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  • Questions for the 3-4 Buffs out there....

    Quick question....

    My Broncos are switching to the 3-4 hybrid defense this year and I have a question for the 3-4 aficionados out there. Other than the NT, what is the second most crucial individual position on the defense. Also, which level is more important for overall success, the line, backers, or secondary? Thanks in advance....

  • #2
    The line is the most important. If they can get double teamed, the LB can have room to make players. The early 2000 Patriots and current Steelers are great examples of this. They both have great Dlinemen and allow LB to make plays.


    "Just Win Baby"- Al Davis
    @SirStackAlot707

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    • #3
      Thanks Raider, hey got a question for ya, did you guys actually release Huff or are you keeping him? I know you guys let Wilson go, but aren't sure if you are releasing Huff as well...

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      • #4
        No official news to if we are releasing Huff. Id rather kee Wilson and cut Huff though. I still think we give Huff another chance this season.


        "Just Win Baby"- Al Davis
        @SirStackAlot707

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        • #5
          Here's a rough outline of an explanation that was given to me once, and I thought it gave a good explanation of the 4-3 vs. the 3-4 defense.

          The 4-3 defense is a Superstars defense, while the 3-4 defense is a Specialists defense.

          The 4-3 defense is a defense made up of stars: You need 2 defensive ends who can rush the passer and be stout against the run, you need three instinctive LBs who can cover reasonably well, and you generally use two specialists at DT: A single man-mountain who can stop the run and a big who can both stop the run and rush the passer.

          By contrast, the 3-4 is a defense made up of specialists (particularly the 1-gap 3-4 systems preferred by teams not descended from the New England Coaching Tree): You need 2 pass rushers at OLB who don't need to be especially stout against the run, you need 2 instinctive LBs who can cover at ILB, and you need 2 bigs who can stop the run and are reasonable pass rushers (but don't need to be elite at either) at DE, and one man-mountain run-stopper at Nose.

          The weakness of the 4-3 from a personnel perspective is that the DE that can rush the passer and hold the point in the running game is a very rare animal. They tend to be expensive in terms of dollars and draft picks, and can be difficult to hold on to. Likewise, you tend to have problems getting a full complement of instinctive LBs who can cover, since you need one more of them than 3-4 teams, and this can be a premium position. The advantage that the 4-3 teams have over the 3-4 teams is that they can really afford to skimp quite a bit more on the bigs on the defensive line.

          By contrast, the advantage of the 3-4 is that a much greater spectrum of players fit it than fit the 4-3 defense. Some players fit the 3-4 that really have no real (non-specialist) role in the 4-3 defense, such as quick, undersized pass-rushers who would be a liability at the point in a 4-3 base (and are traditionally only put in for 3rd down pass rushing situations), and huge athletic big men who are not quick enough from rush from the edge as a 4-3 DE and not stout enough against the run to play DT in a 4-3. There are precious few players anywhere in football who would be clearly better suited to a 4-3 defense than a 3-4 defense (though there are those who are more valuable to a 4-3 team than a 3-4 team, e.g. Julius Peppers is more valuable to a 4-3 team as a DE than a 3-4 team as an OLB, simply because the 4-3 DE position is harder to fill than the 3-4 OLB position). The disadvantage of the 3-4, and it can be a very big one, is that the NT is really very important, and is the linchpin of the entire defense, and good NTs are as rare as good QBs in free agency and in the draft. If you don't have a good NT, you're soft in the middle, the offense gets blockers on the ILBs who are counted on to be able to run free to make plays, and the whole edifice crumbles.

          So a 4-3 team will have trouble filling 2 star DE and 3 star LB positions, but will make up for it by being able to skimp on the NT (the rarest position on defense).

          A 3-4 team only needs to fill 2 star LB positions, and will be able to fill the OLB, and DE positions largely with players who are numerous, somewhat easy to find, and of less value to 4-3 teams. They pay for this by having to base the defense on a star NT (the rarest position on defense.)

          Really though, I would wager that it's less than 1/5 of players in the league or in college who are really better fits for one scheme than the other. Good players will play well in whatever scheme they end up in. The main different is just that the 4-3 stocks up on players who have a complete game, so they can skimp at the Nose, and the 3-4 gets a good Nose so that they can stock up on guys who do one thing really well for the other positions. To make a sort of strained metaphor, the 3-4 is like more of a pro-style passing offense: you really need to have a star QB (NT) to make the thing work; where the 4-3 is more of a rush oriented (or even wildcat) offense: you get as many good players as you can at the other positions, so you can afford to skimp at the QB (NT). Other than that, they're not really all that dissimilar. Most 3-4 bases are only a couple of steps and a hand on the ground away from a 4-3 base.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Bronco in UT View Post
            Quick question....

            My Broncos are switching to the 3-4 hybrid defense this year and I have a question for the 3-4 aficionados out there. Other than the NT, what is the second most crucial individual position on the defense. Also, which level is more important for overall success, the line, backers, or secondary? Thanks in advance....
            Good recent examples

            San Diego - Had an NT (Williams) they drafted DE Oshansky (2nd 2004), OLB Phillips (4th 2004), OLB Merriman (1st 2005) and DE Castillo (1st 2005), LB Waters (3rd 2007)

            Dallas - Had an NT (Fergusen) they drafted OLB Ware (1st 2005), DE Spears (1st 2005), OLB Burnett (2nd 2005), DE Canty (4th 2005), OLB Carpenter (1st 2006), DE Hatcher (3rd 2006), OLB Spencer (1st 2007)

            Miami - Had NT (Fergusen), DE (Starks) and OLB (Porter) drafted DE Merling (2nd 2008), DE Langford (3rd 2008)

            New England - DE Seymour (1st 2001), DE Warren (1st 2003), NT Wilfork (1st 2004), DE Hill (2nd 2004), DE Brown (4th 2007), LB Mayo (1st 2008), OLB Crable (3rd 2008)


            Everyone's system will be different, but as a general guide when switching from 4-3 to a 3-4 defense:

            1. NT is the top priority
            2a. one quality passrusher at OLB
            2b. Quality DEs
            3. Secondary
            4. OLBs
            5. ILBs

            Cleveland and the Jets tried to switch to a 3-4 without loading up at the front with limited success; both teams ended up trading for players to fill much needed gaps in the trenches.

            In fact here may be a big contributing factor as o why they struggled:

            Cleveland: OLB Wimbley (1st 2006), ILB Jackson (2nd 2006), LB Williams (4th 2006), NT Oshinowo (6th 2006), DE Purcell (6th 2007), DE Pittman (7th 2007), DE Rhubin (6th 2008)

            New York Jets: DE Adams (7th 2006), ILB Harris (2nd 2007), OLB Gholston (1st 2008)

            Miami, New England, San Diego and Dallas built defense as their priority before offense. Cleveland and NY Jets tried to do a bit of everything.
            Last edited by Big_Pete; 02-22-2009, 06:41 AM.

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            • #7
              The other guys did a great job of answering your question. I'd like to go a step further.

              NG - Most important. Already discussed.

              DE - Need to play a 2-gap. For example Richard Seymour is a perfect 3-4 de because he can stack the T and still provide a bit of a pass rush. Dwight Freeney is a much better pass-rusher than Seymour but can't hold position to stop the run. De's should be around 300lb. Not those 270lb burners.

              OLB - Need to get a pass rush here in the 3-4 because the de's are tying up the tackles. They should be bigger than an olb in a 4-3 because of pass-rushing ability required and have to set the edge on running plays.
              Proto type olb in a 3-4 would be a guy like Merriman or D.Ware. Where your
              4-3 lb's can be a little smaller but have more speed. Proto-type would be a guy like Derrick Brooks. Though Derrick is so good he could play in any D.

              ILB - In a 3-4 they have to take on G's more frequently than your MLB
              in a 4-3. Should be a little heavier than your 4-3 guy, but doesn't quite need
              that sideline to sideline speed because you have a fellow ilb to help you out.

              I've followed the Pats since mid 70's and they have almost always run a 3-4. I'm not saying it's the correct way. Just a different way. I feel that if you follow the blueprint you will have a bigger, tougher front 7. But, they won't be as athletic as your 4-3 bretheren. I think it goes to the psychology of what you expect out of your defense. Mine is to stop what the other team likes to do best and prevent big plays. Some guys want a defense that attacks the offense and create turnovers, but might give up some big plays.

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              • #8
                Well in short the pass rushing OLBs are more important than the DEs or ILBs in a 3-4. Depending on what type of 3-4 they can be more important than the NT.

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                • #9
                  Well this is definitely the year to be switching to the 3-4. I've never seen so many tweener Defensive Ends (3-4 OLB's) projected in the top 40 in my life. It's obviously not going to change overnight (especially when only a handful of NT's, DE's are available), but getting one of these pass rushers will certaintly help.

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                  • #10
                    No disrespect to the Broncos but, unless he changes his philosophy, Mike Nolan won't be running a typical 3-4. People can call it a "hybrid" but the fact is most of the time the 49ers ran what became known as the "Big Sub" which was basically a 4-2-5 defense. It was horrendous. As soon as Nolan was fired, Coach Sing, and Manusky transitioned to a more base 3-4 and experienced significantly more success.

                    But as mentioned earlier, NT and Rush OLB are probably the most important. Unfortunately Nolan just kept trying to plug in later round draft picks and FAs at NT and it has hurt the team.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PossibleCabbage View Post
                      Here's a rough outline of an explanation that was given to me once, and I thought it gave a good explanation of the 4-3 vs. the 3-4 defense.

                      The 4-3 defense is a Superstars defense, while the 3-4 defense is a Specialists defense.
                      That may have been the case 5 years ago, but as the 3-4 becomes the 'norm' that will change. It's just like anything else, when you corner the niche on a certain type of player, you can draft him much later. The Tampa 2 used to work wonderfully because they were drafting smaller players that nobody else wanted in the 4th or 5th round and making starters out of them.


                      Nobody cares about your stupid fantasy team.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by phlysac View Post
                        No disrespect to the Broncos but, unless he changes his philosophy, Mike Nolan won't be running a typical 3-4. People can call it a "hybrid" but the fact is most of the time the 49ers ran what became known as the "Big Sub" which was basically a 4-2-5 defense. It was horrendous. As soon as Nolan was fired, Coach Sing, and Manusky transitioned to a more base 3-4 and experienced significantly more success.

                        But as mentioned earlier, NT and Rush OLB are probably the most important. Unfortunately Nolan just kept trying to plug in later round draft picks and FAs at NT and it has hurt the team.
                        None taken, thanks for the response. I haven't heard too many positive things from Niners fans regarding Nolan so lets hope he has wised up with his time off and has evolved his philosophy. So basically as of yet I have the OLB (Rush) and DEs as the potential second most important position on the 3-4. I'm really hoping the Broncos load up on the defensive line in this draft as we have traditionally neglected that level when Shanny was at the helm.

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                        • #13
                          Not an expert but would think the line is the toughest positions to fill. There are enough 3-4 OLBs that you could get one of them later.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bearsfan_51 View Post
                            That may have been the case 5 years ago, but as the 3-4 becomes the 'norm' that will change. It's just like anything else, when you corner the niche on a certain type of player, you can draft him much later. The Tampa 2 used to work wonderfully because they were drafting smaller players that nobody else wanted in the 4th or 5th round and making starters out of them.
                            I think you misunderstand what I meant about Superstars vs. Specialists. The bread and butter of the 4-3 is players who have complete games and who excel in two mostly unrelated activities (e.g. holding the point in the run game and running the passer, filling gaps in the run game and covering RBs and TEs in the short passing game, etc.). The bread and butter of 3-4 is players who do one particular thing very well, and don't need to be anything more than "adequate" in other aspects of their game, since there's a specialist in a different role to take up the slack. The only thing I said about position value was that the 3-4 can afford to make use of a much wider range of players than the 4-3. If the 3-4 defense becomes especially popular, this doesn't change; the average draft position for say, 3-4 OLBs and 3-4 DEs may go up, but it doesn't change the fact that the 3-4 defense can make use of players who struggle more in traditional 4-3 bases (the pass rusher with questionable run-stopping ability, the DE who's not quick enough to edge-rush and not stout enough against the run to be a DT, etc.)
                            Last edited by PossibleCabbage; 02-22-2009, 12:59 PM.

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                            • #15
                              After the NT your 3-4 WILL backer is probably the most important guy. He is the guy that usually makes the whole defense work.
                              Originally posted by 49erNation85
                              I dunno even half of those guys why did we sign them jeez.

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