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iforgotmypassword 01-11-2009 11:23 PM

can anyone explain a 3-4 positional breakdown?
you guys probaly know what to look for in players better than i would and a fellow poster could use some coachin up....

I know the D-line consists of basically two 4-3 type DT's sittin at D ends bein cogs.... and also it seems like it all starts with monsterous NG's... not very many successful 3-4's without a dominant NG... if that's the case that's just gotta move haynesworth even higher on peoples wishlist... and also bowlen seems to let new coaches spend some $ on building thier schemes last few years

linebackers I'm not real sure on middle i think size becomes a factor again as they will play head up with an o lineman.... outside obviously you want some tweeners i think most people have a grasp on what you look for there...

which brings me to the secondary?? no idea what you'd look for there?

would appriciate some feedback

LongDongJohnson 01-11-2009 11:36 PM

what you look for a in a 3-4 secondary is a champ bailey.
i think we have one.

we could also use an ed reed.

basically the 3-4 is known to cause a lot of pressure forcing qb's to make bad throws so a ball hawking secondary is probably the best to have. atleast a ball hawking saftey

iforgotmypassword 01-11-2009 11:42 PM

run support corners important? champs the best in the luege and bly stepped up huge end of last year

Spider 01-11-2009 11:45 PM

3-4 ........ First you need a monster for a Nose tackle , with out that , you are screwed , then you want some tweeners Line Backers / DE types , and then you want head hunter for one safety and a ball hawk for the other , but most of all you have to control the center and a guard ......

Play2win 01-11-2009 11:52 PM


Originally Posted by Spider (Post 2246944)
3-4 ........ First you need a monster for a Nose tackle , with out that , you are screwed , then you want some tweeners Line Backers / DE types , and then you want head hunter for one safety and a ball hawk for the other , but most of all you have to control the center and a guard ......

Which will be a lot easier to get good value for in the draft. We can get some of these with mid to late round pickups...

Kinda like we used to do with runningbacks... ;D

~Crash~ 01-11-2009 11:53 PM

right now we need a


Larson will man NT ILB we need PR (pass rusher) ILB I now want to draft Rey

and a FS that is a real ball hawk ...

the rest we got

OLBer Moss OLBer Dvile

we could move Dvile to PR ILB'er IMO and draft a big OLBer pass rush type

Br0nc0Buster 01-12-2009 12:00 AM

If I had to guess, I would guess they are going to move Robertson back to NT and pair him up with a rookie at that spot.
I guess Thomas and Peterson will man the DE spots.
Larson and DJ will take the inside backer spots while Moss and Doom take outside, or possible Crowder.

I am sure, we are going to need a lot of work on the front 7 if we want to go to a 3-4.
Well actually we need a lot of work on our front 7 regardless of what scheme we want to run

TheDave 01-12-2009 12:11 AM

Fairbanks - Bullough 3-4 defensive system

The New England Patriots run a modified base 3-4 Chuck Fairbanks - Hank Bullough system<SUP class=reference id=_ref-9>[10]</SUP> installed by Bill Belichick. The term 3-4 means that their base formation consists of 3 defensive linemen (defensive end, nose tackle, and defensive end), 4 linebackers (outside "Jack" weak side linebacker, middle "Will" weak side linebacker, middle "Mike" strong side linebacker, and outside "Sam" strong side linebacker), and 4 defensive backs (cornerback, free safety, strong safety, and cornerback)<SUP class=reference id=_ref-10>[11]</SUP>. In the Patriots system the inside linebackers are the "Will" and "Mike" linebackers<SUP class=reference id=_ref-11>[12]</SUP>. It is believed that this 3-4 structure gives the defense the greatest amount of flexibility because the linebackers are among the most versatile players on the defense, capable of doing any of the following: rushing the quarterback, tackling runners or dropping into coverage. By mixing the roles of their linebackers from play to play, the Patriots defense seeks to cause confusion on the part of opposing offenses. At times the Patriots will also shade their defensive linemen different ways, creating "over" or "under" defenses. "Over" and "under" defenses simply refer to the shift of the defensive linemen to the strong or weak side of the offense, respectively, and the rotation of the linebackers in the opposite direction. Chuck Fairbanks was a head coach for the National Football Leagues New England Patriots. ... Hank Bullough is a former head coach of the Buffalo Bills. ... A defensive lineman is any of the down positions on the defensive side of American football. ... A linebacker is a position in American and Canadian football. ... Defensive back (DB) is a player in American football whose role is primarily pass coverage; that is, the defensive back will stay near a receiver and try to deflect or intercept any passes thrown to him. ...

The "Fairbanks - Bullough" 3-4 system is known as a two gap system<SUP class=reference id=_ref-12>[13]</SUP>, because each of the defensive linemen are required to cover the gaps to both sides of the offensive lineman that try to block them<SUP class=reference id=_ref-13>[14]</SUP>. Defensive linemen in this system tend to be stouter, as they need to be able to hold their place without being overwhelmed in order to allow the linebackers behind them to make plays<SUP class=reference id=_ref-14>[15]</SUP>. This is the reason that defensive linemen such as Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork do not always rack up gaudy sack and tackle statistics despite their critical importance to the team<SUP class=reference id=_ref-15>[16]</SUP>. An offensive lineman (football) is one of a group of positions in American football. ... Richard Vershaun Seymour (born October 6, 1979 in Gadsden, South Carolina) is an American football defensive lineman for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. ... Vincent Lamar Wilfork (born November 4, 1981 in Boynton Beach, Florida) is an American football defensive tackle who currently plays for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. ...

The system is at times more conservative than certain other defenses currently in vogue in the league<SUP class=reference id=_ref-16>[17]</SUP>, despite the constant threat of its potent linebacker blitz. The Patriots defensive system generally places an emphasis on physicality and discipline over mobility and risk taking and is sometimes characterized as a "bend but do not break defense"<SUP class=reference id=_ref-17>[18]</SUP>.


The 3-4 defense was originally devised by Bud Wilkinson at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1940s<SUP class=reference id=_ref-18>[19]</SUP>. Former Patriots and Oklahoma coach Chuck Fairbanks is credited with being a major figure in first bringing the 3-4 defense to the NFL in 1974<SUP class=reference id=_ref-19>[20]</SUP>. Patriots defensive coordinator Hank Bullough made significant further innovations to the system<SUP class=reference id=_ref-20>[21]</SUP>. Parcells was linebackers coach under Ron Erhardt as head coach of the Patriots in 1980 (after Fairbanks left for Colorado in 1978 and Bullough lost out on the head coaching position). When Parcells returned to the Giants as defensive coordinator under Ray Perkins in 1981, he brought the 3-4 defense with him. Charles Burnham Bud Wilkinson (April 23, 1916–February 9, 1994) was an American football player, coach, and broadcaster. ... The University of Oklahoma features 17 varsity sports teams. ... The 1940s decade ran from 1940 to 1949. ... A defensive coordinator typically refers to a coach on a football team in the National Football League (or at other levels of American football) who is in charge of the defense. ... Hank Bullough is a former head coach of the Buffalo Bills. ... The New England Patriots finished the National Football Leagues 1980 season with a record of ten wins and six losses, and finished second in the AFC East division. ... The New England Patriots finished the National Football Leagues 1978 season with a record of eleven wins and five losses, and finished tied for first in the AFC East division. ... Year 1981 (MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays the 1981 Gregorian calendar). ...

Bill Belichick was initially exposed to the 3-4 defense while working as an assistant under Red Miller, head coach of the Denver Broncos and a former Patriots offensive coordinator under Fairbanks. Joe Collier was the defensive coordinator under Red Miller at the time<SUP class=reference id=_ref-21>[22]</SUP>, and his orange crush defense was very successful at stifling opposing offenses. The Broncos had decided to adopt the 3-4 in 1977. Bill Belichick subsequently refined his understanding of the 3-4 as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator under Parcells with the Giants. Belichick returned the 3-4 defense back to New England when he become coach of the team in 2000<SUP class=reference id=_ref-22>[23]</SUP>. Romeo Crennel subsequently became defensive coordinator for the team. Robert Red Miller was a professional football coach with the the Denver Broncos. ... City Denver, Colorado Other nicknames Orange Crush (1977-1979 defense) Team colors Orange, Broncos Navy Blue, and White[1] Head Coach Mike Shanahan Owner Pat Bowlen General manager Ted Sundquist Mascot Miles League/Conference affiliations American Football League (1960-1969) Western Division (1960-1969) National Football League (1970–present) American... Orange Crush Defense was the defense of the Denver Broncos during the 1970s. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... Romeo Crennel (born June 18, 1947 in Lynchburg, Virginia) has been the head coach of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League since February 8, 2005. ...

Other teams running similar defensive systems

Bill Parcells ran the Fairbanks - Bullough 3-4 defensive system during his coaching years<SUP class=reference id=_ref-23>[24]</SUP>. Many teams coached by members of the Parcells - Belichick coaching tree currently run similar defensive systems, such as the University of Alabama under Nick Saban, the New York Jets under Eric Mangini and the Cleveland Browns under Romeo Crennel. The University of Alabama (also known as Alabama, UA or colloquially as Bama) is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA. Founded in 1831, UA is the flagship campus of the University of Alabama System. ... Nicholas Lou Saban (born October 31, 1951 in Fairmont, West Virginia) is an American college football coach and the current head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. ... City East Rutherford, New Jersey Other nicknames Gang Green, the Green and White, Jersey Jets Team colors Hunter green and white Head Coach Eric Mangini Owner Woody Johnson General manager Mike Tannenbaum League/Conference affiliations American Football League (1960-1969) Eastern Division (1960-1969) National Football League (1970–present) American... Eric Mangini (born January 19, 1971 in Hartford, Connecticut) is the current head coach of the New York Jets of the NFL. At the age of 35, he was the youngest head coach in the NFL, as well as the youngest coach in the four major North American sports, including... Browns redirects here. ... Romeo Crennel (born June 18, 1947 in Lynchburg, Virginia) has been the head coach of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League since February 8, 2005. ...

Comparison to other 3-4 systems

The "Phillips 3-4", a one-gap version of the 3-4, was also brought into the league by Bum Phillips, head coach of the Houston Oilers in the 1970s. The Phillips 3-4 defense is currently run by the San Diego Chargers as well as the Dallas Cowboys now being coached by Wade Phillips, the son of Bum Phillips. Wade Phillips replaced Joe Collier as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos in 1989. The modern Phillips 3-4 is largely a one gap 3-4 system, meaning that the defensive linemen are often only responsible for one gap between the offensive linemen<SUP class=reference id=_ref-24>[25]</SUP>. The linemen can afford to be more aggressive because they receive more support from the linebackers in performing their roles. This system generally prefers relatively lighter, more agile lineman better able to perform aggressive slants, loops and gap charges in order to directly attempt to sack the quarterback and make tackles<SUP class=reference id=_ref-25>[26]</SUP>. Oail Andrew Bum Phillips (born on September 29, 1923 in Nederland, Texas or Orange, Texas) is a former National Football League (NFL) head coach. ... City New Orleans, Louisiana Team colors Old Gold, Black, and White Head Coach Sean Payton Owner Tom Benson General manager Mickey Loomis Mascot Gumbo League/Conference affiliations National Football League (1967–present) Eastern Conference (1967-1969) Capitol Division (1967; 1969) Century Division (1968) National Football Conference (1970-present) NFC West... City Irving, Texas Other nicknames Americas Team, The Boys Team colors White, Silver, Silver-Green, Royal Blue, Navy Blue Head Coach Wade Phillips Owner Jerry Jones General manager Jerry Jones League/Conference affiliations National Football League (1960–present) Eastern Conference (1960-1969) Capitol Division (1967-1969) National Football Conference... Wade Phillips (born June 21, 1947 in Orange, Texas) is the current head coach for the National Football Leagues Dallas Cowboys. ... Year 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays 1989 Gregorian calendar). ...

The 3-4 zone blitz defense was developed by Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It commonly calls upon linemen to be mobile enough to drop back into zone coverage in place of blitzing linebackers<SUP class=reference id=_ref-26>[27]</SUP>. Elements of the 3-4 zone blitz defense have been incorporated over time into the modern Phillips 3-4. The Zone Blitz is a common method of defensive pressure applied in American football, usually at the collegiate and professional levels. ... Richard Dick LeBeau is a former football player and is presently the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator. ... Steelers redirects here. ...

BroncoMan4ever 01-12-2009 12:27 AM


Originally Posted by 56crash (Post 2246969)
right now we need a


Larson will man NT ILB we need PR (pass rusher) ILB I now want to draft Rey

and a FS that is a real ball hawk ...

the rest we got

OLBer Moss OLBer Dvile

we could move Dvile to PR ILB'er IMO and draft a big OLBer pass rush type

I agree, Rey is now more suited for us considering a 3-4 allignment and is a better pick than Spikes would be.

I also would really like to bring in Suggs to be one of our OLB, because in the best case scenario, 1 of either Doom or Moss will be good for us and that might be a pipe dream.

lostknight 01-12-2009 12:39 AM

It sounds like we want to move more towords a Phillips 3-4 system given the LB corp we have today.

cutthemdown 01-12-2009 12:55 AM

It's hard to say because we haven't heard any of the new coaching staffs plans for the defense. No doubt though if we are going 3-4 we need to get bigger upfront and at linebacker.

I'd say Broncos main goals will be to find a DT with some size and some ends that can hold the edge and rush the passer.

I'm really curious to see if the new staff has any faith in Moss or Dumerville to play standing up at the Jack spot in a 3-4.

TheDave 01-12-2009 01:00 AM

A good but very long breakdown...

The 3-4 Defense: A Primer

I am writing this piece in response to some of the announcers and writers out there that obviously wouldn't know the difference between a 3-4 defense and a punt formation. And there might be some fans out there that do not know when they are seeing a 3-4 or a 4-3 or what the differences are. To some it might seem redundant and to others informative.
As always, I write with out the benefit of a proofer, so please ignore typos, etc.

Unfortunately, I cannot (or don't know how to) include diagrams. If some of it might seem confusing in reading I suggest the following: diagram out a typical offensive formation or offensive line. Mark the gaps as A, B, C, D with the center-guard gap being the "A", the guard-tackle the "B", the tackle-tight end being the "C", outside of the tight end is the "D". To designate the "techniques" (where the players align in opposition to the offensive line), start with the center as "0", his outside shoulder is "1", the gap between center-guard is "2", the inside shoulder of the guard is "3", and so on. Adding a "0" to any of these numbers would indicate a LB lining up off the line of scrimmage. I hope that this helps. In addition, and excellent resource (with diagrams) can be found at


The 3-4 might seem like a recent innovation. In fact, it has been around for a relatively long time. The system had been in use on the collegiate level since the 40's (Oklahoma is credited with its first use), but the defense looked vastly different as it was played very close to the line and every player was a brute. In 1970, in Superbowl IV, Hank Stramm wanted to utilize the strength of Curly Culp, a defensive lineman that was very strong and couldn't be blocked one-on-one. Stramm wanted Culp to tie up the Vikings All-Pro center Mick Tinglehoff and tie up additional guard support. He wanted to prevent the Vikings outstanding line from being able to pull and lead the great Vikings outside rushing attack. This worked out pretty well for the Chiefs as they dominated the heavily favored Vikings by holding them to just 67-yards rushing, 3 picks, and recovering 2 fumbles.

Early innovators of the defense on the professional level were Coaches Bum Phillips, Chuck Fairbanks and Hank Bullough. Today, the most familiar 3-4 with 2-gap line technique (we will get to that later) is referred to as the Fairbanks-Bullough.

In the 80's, the success of the 49ers and Cowboys with the 4-3 alignment saw most of the other teams adopt it as their base defense. However, the recent success of the New England Patriots, utilizing the 3-4, has given new life to the 3-4 in the professional football level. "It's not so much that teams are changing," said coach Bill Parcells, who won his first Super Bowl title in 1991 using the 3-4. "It's the people that have become decision makers have backgrounds in that defense and that is what they are implementing." Patriots coach Bill Belichick first learned the 3-4 while working under Parcells. Browns coach Romeo Crennel, New England's former defensive coordinator, was an assistant on the same Giants staff. Nick Saban also worked with Belichick ... and on down the coaching tree.

So why the switch to the 3-4?

Proponents suggest it's most effective in combating today's sophisticated passing attacks, with their multiple formations and intricate routes, because a fourth linebacker allows a defense the luxury of disguising its blitzes and coverages better.

If the offensive guards are responsible for blocking the inside linebackers, the center has the nose tackle and the offensive tackles are designated to block the defensive ends, who's got the two outside linebackers? And where are they?

The 3-4 also can morph into a 4-3 in the blink of an eye. The 3-4's outside linebacker can quickly come up to the line of scrimmage, drop his hand down, and voila, 4-3. Or he can stay on the edge as a decoy, pick up a running back in the flat or cover the tight end.

"I'm not saying it's better," Parcells said. "Here's what I think some of the advantages are: At any time you can drop eight people into coverage, and that complicates things for the quarterback. Not many four-man line teams have the ability to do that.

"The second thing is it's more 1-on-1 football. It forces the offense to block more straight and use less angles than a gap defense does. Sometimes that's more difficult for the offense to do."

In the 4-3 defense, you need two very large and athletic defensive tackles and two somewhat large and very athletic defensive ends. These guys are very hard to find. If you can't find a couple of good defensive ends, you're in for a long season of living and dying by the blitz.

In the 3-4 defense, you need one really large nose tackle. This NT has to be a real monster of a guy, 350 pounds or so, because his job is to take on the center and one of the guards simultaneously on every single play. Then you get two more defensive tackles at around 300 pounds each, and play them up against the offensive tackles. All three of the defensive tackles have what is called a gap responsibility. They are expected to hit the offensive linemen head on, and watch the play to make sure the running back doesn't come through on either side of them. Also, they're expected to hold their block so that the offensive linemen can't get out and block a linebacker.

In the 3-4 system, the linebackers are expected to make most of the plays. In the 3-4 system, the DTs play a more physical game as they are taking on one or two offensive linemen directly, play after play. Unlike the DTs in the 4-3, the DTs in the 3-4 are responsible for every single gap in the offensive line. Although the DTs get relatively few chances to make tackles or sack the quarterback, anything bad that happens is still ultimately their fault.

In the 3-4, you have four linebackers. Two of these guys are inside linebackers, and are expected to weigh roughly 240 pounds and be quite athletic. You also have two outside linebackers. These guys are sometimes called "tweeners," as they are in between the normal size of defensive ends and linebackers. These guys should weigh perhaps 255-265 pounds and also be quite athletic. Because these are linebackers, they tend to be faster than the heavier defensive ends. Their presence makes it much more difficult for the quarterback to roll out, as he will be rolling out directly into the path of one of these linebackers.


The 3-4 is composed of 3 down lineman, 4 linebackers and 4 defensive backs.

The defensive line positions are 2 defensive tackles and 1 noseguard. Typically, the noseguard (NG) plays head-up on the center (OC). This known as the "0" technique. The defensive tackles (DT) line up just off the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle (OT) in what is known as the the "3" technique. The primary function of the DL is to protect the LBs and play the run. Each defensive lineman is responsible for 1 or 2 gaps, depending on the scheme being used.

NG is the toughest position to fill. The NG is head-up on the OC and is responsible for defending both "A" gaps ("A" gap is the gap between the OC and OG's. "B" gap is between OG and OT. "C" gap is between OT and TE.) in the running game. He faces constant double-teams and takes a pounding. He must have size, mental and physical toughness, stamina, durability, lateral quickness, and good technique in terms of playing with leverage. If the NT cannot hold his ground, the defense is very vulnerable to runs between the tackles.

DTs tend to weigh around 290-310, and many are former 4-3 DT/DE "tweeners". They must be able to play the run well. The 3-4 DT is responsible for the "B" and "C" gaps in the running game and lines up in either the "3" or "5" technique (head-up on the OT) position. It's tough for a 3-4 DE to pick up as many sacks as a 4-3 DE, because a 3-4 DE doesn't have the freedom to go willy nilly upfield. He has to protect the LBs in order for the 3-4 to work.

The inside linebackers must be stout in run support. Because there are only 3 DL to match up against 5 OL, they must be able to stack and shed an unblocked offensive lineman in the running game. The left inside linebacker is called the “MIKE" linebacker (keep in mind that different teams might use different nomenclature for the different positions). He closely resembles his counterpart in the 4-3 except that he aligns himself in a “2" technique over the guard to the tight end side. The right inside linebacker, referred to as the “MAC" Linebacker also aligns himself in a “2" technique except he is on the “weak side” away from the tight end. In the 3-4’s most basic form both the “MIKE” and “MAC” linebackers have “A" and "B" gap responsibility, so like the middle linebacker of the 4-3 they must play the run from the inside out. However, in many of the 3-4 scheme’s seen today you see the “MAC" backer playing more of a weak side linebackers role and the “MIKE” can likewise find himself in the strong side role. The strong-side "MIKE", must have an attacking style of play to come up and meet a ball carrier at the line of scrimmage and be fast enough to string him out to the sideline. Though his first priority would be to stand the blocking back up in the hole yet plugging another running lane.The weak-side "MAC", is responsible for backside pursuit and must be disciplined enough not to overrun a play which could result in a big gain. Both players also must be able to blitz the QB and be able to drop into short zone depending on the defense called. Personnel wise the inside linebackers in the 3-4 are usually the prototypical linebacker that runs a 4.5 to 4.7 in the forty and stands 6’ to 6’4”tall at 240-255lbs. Most linebackers that play inside in a 3-4 scheme can usually translate well to the middle and weak side linebacking positions in a 4-3.

The two outside linebackers of the 3-4 defense have very similar jobs, especially in the very basic concept of the defense. An OLB in this defense is simply stated, the pass rusher. Both the “SAM” (strong-side) and “WILL” (weak-side) of the 3-4 will usually have “D gap” responsibility and will line up outside of the DE as a 5/7 technique (outside shoulder of either OT or TE). He is the guy who chases down the QB. His ideal frame is tall in the 6'4" range and normally anwhere from 240-260 lbs. Long arms are needed to disengage from NFL offensive tackles in the run game and also used in pass rush. They must be very fast as to be able to beat a Tackle to the corner in pass rush but also strong and athletic enough to utilize bull rush moves when needed. This player is also responsible for outside contain in the run game.

When Coach Hank Stram first introduced the 3-4 to the NFL it was four legitimate linebackers playing zone defense behind three down linemen. Later on teams started replacing one of those outside linebackers with a pure pass rusher and now the most prevalent version has both outside linebackers rushing the passer from a defense that more closely resembles a 5-2. On almost every play, 1 of the OLBs will rush the QB. The OLBs can play from a 2 or 3-point stance.

A cornerback (CB) in this defense has many different responsibilities from a traditional zone coverage CB. This player needs to be very fast with good ball skills as he plays alot of man coverage due to the schemes employed, dependant on what the front 7 does. Certain packages will also ask this player to play a variety of zones. The CB also be must tough enough to help support the outside run game. Normally, due to defensive formations, these players will line up on the WR with a 5 to 7 yard cushion as to not get **** the line scrimmage and surrender a deep pass play due to the extra safety playing in the box on run support, better known as cover 3. The roles of a CB vary greatly depending the defensive playcall and responsibility of the safety.

Like a Safety (S) in any defense, they must be able to play centerfield to be successful. Due to the versatility of the defense, its common to only have one deep safety in the pass game, which is why referring back the CB's will line up with a cushion b/c there isnt alot of help there. These players make all the secondary calls and must be strong in second level run support. The free safety (FS) is responsible for reading the offensive plays and covering deep passes. Depending on the defensive call, he may also provide run support. He is positioned 10 to 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, toward the center of the field. He provides the last line of defense against running backs and receivers who get past the linebackers and cornerbacks. He must be a quick and smart player, capable of making tackles efficiently as well as reading the play and alerting his team of game situations.

The strong safety (SS) is usually larger than the free safety and is positioned relatively close to the line of scrimmage. He is often an integral part of the run defense, but is also responsible for defending against a pass; especially against passes to the tight-ends.


Without a doubt the 3-4 defense is the poster boy for flexibility. The strength of this defense rests in the number of quick footed athletes you can place on the field at the same time. It is so versatile of a defense that you could be in what appears to be a 5-2 defense on one play and then drop back in to a 4-2-5 zone on the next. Zone blitzing is especially effective from the 3-4 because you have so many players who can do similar things. You almost have endless combinations of the zone blitzes you can call. This is what has made Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel so successful over the past; they were completely unpredictable and nobody had any idea what they are going to do next. They did so many different things every week that at times it seemed like they were drawing defensive calls out of a hat.

On the defensive line, the two most commonly used schemes are the "2" and "1" gap. In the "2" gap, the defensive lineman are responsible for the gap to either side of their technique. For instance, the NG, in a "0" technique (head up on the center) would have the job of covering either gap between the OC and the OG's. He accomplishes this by driving into the OC and then shedding him once he reads which gap the play will come to. At the very least, he hopes to tie up the OC and at least one of the OG's and keep them off the inside linebackers. Same applies for the DT's. This is why in a typical 3-4 defense, the ILB's will have the majority of the tackles. The "2" gap is usually know as the Fairbanks-Bullough, named after Chuck Fairbanks and Hank Bullough, two early innovators of the 3-4 as mentioned previously.

In the "1" gap, the defensive lineman will have a single gap responsibility. This system is not what people think of when they think of the 3-4, because the original 3-4 was/is strictly a 2-gap system. The Phillips is named after "Bum Phillips". Bum learned under Paul "Bear" Bryant at A&M and had coached high school football well enough to break into the college ranks (not a common route). He was a defensive coordinator in SD, then in HOU (that's the Oilers for you young folks). He later was a head coach in HOU and later for NO.

Phillips was an innovator who turned the 3-4 upside down. His system is one-gap. The DL penetrates, and is charged with constant harrasment of the QB. The LBs are typically fast, and at least one of them will blitz on any given play.

The reason for the near constant 1-LB blitz is to account for the fact that the outnumbered DL is also relatively undersized and only one-gapping. However, the adjustments work out well. The OL never knows who the blitzer will be, or where he will come from. The Phillips is more aggressive that the Bullough. The school of thought for the Phillips 3-4 is the need to pressure against the QB to stop the pass threat, and this is done by varying who the "fourth rusher" (who is really a blitzer) is. Add another blitzer in here and there, and the speedy/aggressive Phillips system is a threat to QBs, and attempts to get turnovers by slashing the time that a QB has to make decisions.

Another system is the Lebeau Zone Blitz and the theme for the Lebeau system is attack, attack, attack. The Zone Blitz is very nasty thing to deal with. In terms of player types, one can vary the NT type and even the DEs, but 1 gap speed DEs are much more common.

The zone blitz play (also know as a zone fire play) has been around for ages. Dick Lebeau took the play and turned it into a full system for Pittsburgh in the early 90's. He tried his hand at head coaching and being a coordinator elsewhere, but with little success. He doesn't seem to be a good manager, and isn't great at adopting to the existing systems of other teams. What Lebeau is know for it two things. His players love him (they play hard for him), and he is an excellent theoretician who develops elaborate plays with many twists.

The idea is that the different DLs will often drop back into coverage, while several linebackers (and even defensive backs) will blitz. The OL can't brace themselves, because if they do they will likely brace for the wrong assault. This is the one defense that prides itsself on turning the tables - the defensive line and the LBs hit the OL hard and often and try to wear down the other side.

CBs most often jam or jack the WRs , then either drop into zone or blitz. SAFs either zone or blitz (a safety blitz is called a "monster"), the LBs blitz most often, and sometimes zone, the DL either rushes or ends up in zone. It's a very fun defense to watch.

This defense tries to stop the run by penetrating the OL and disrupting the offense's backfield. They stop the pass by targetting the QB with heavy blitz packages. The zone blitz is very effective against screen passes, wreaks havoc against check offs by QBs (because the zones can't be anticipated, nor can the rush), and is the only major defensive scheme that is predicated on wearing down the OL instead of the OL wearing down the DL. For these reasons, the timing system used by many spread offenses can face more troubles here than in many other systems.

There is one glaring weakness. You drop a DL into a zone and the blitz doesn't hurry the QB and the QB has a quick-realease for an arm... well your defensive lineman isn't probably going to match a WR or TE going for a reception, is he?

Another scheme that makes the 3-4 so flexible is the Over/Under. In this alignment, the linebackers rotate can "rotate" or "slide" to the "Over" (towards the strong side) or the "Under" (towards the weak side). The rotating OLB moves up to the line of scrimmage and plays the "50" or "60" technique (adding the "0" means he is lined up off the line of scrimmage on the OT or TE outside shoulder). He can be in either a three-point or two-point stance. The two ILB's rotate to a "40" and "10" technique and the backside OLB now plays the "40" technique. While this alignment can easily be confused with a 4-3, it is definitely different. Either OLB can be in blitz, stunt or coverage. By moving the OLB to a "60" technique (slightly outside of the TE) it puts him in great position to either jam the TE, a speed rush, or coverage in the shallow flats. Also, the backside OLB can loop around the tackle for an outside rush or overload the weak side protection by blitzing the "A", "B", or "C" gap. The Over/Under also yields itself well to the zone blitz and makes it very easy to disguise coverages.

Finished at the link below:

cutthemdown 01-12-2009 01:01 AM

I'm also curious as to if Crowder can be used for anything? Isn't he about 280 pounds? you would have thought since he made team that he would have played some.

Very upset that neither Moss or Crowder has done a damn thing. Had even one of them worked out last yr may have been different.

Just a couple more defenders playing well and sometimes role players who looked like crap before start making plays.

If Broncos can get some things going on around the QB maybe our corners and safety's wouldn't look so utterly helpless all the time.

Also I noticed today often Pitt CB were playing 10 yrds of the WR just like we do. Difference? pressure on the QB and linebackers and dlineman who kill the RB.

cutthemdown 01-12-2009 01:07 AM

By the way that was a great read Dave.

It's obvious to me even if we ran a 4-3 we needed bigger MLB. DJ I think would be a little small but I think he can do it inside ina 3-4, maybe Larsen as well. No doubt though broncos will look to add a good inside backer.

As for outside linebackers in a 3-4 we are a mess. Boss Bailey? No way, Woodyard way to small for outside, and also too small for inside. Winborn I don't think so.

If we go 3-4 I would imagine Broncos make a huge push for a guy like Suggs.

orange crusher 01-12-2009 01:48 AM

I still think Woodyard can play ILB. James Farrior was weighing in at 218 pounds in December. It's easy to discount WW as an ILB in a 3-4 because of his weight, but I think he will prove people wrong. I guess we'll see how it all shakes out.

Bronco Yoda 01-12-2009 02:55 AM

I say yes to the 3-4

btw, an added bonus is that the special teams should also improve with the extra LB types on the roster.

s0phr0syne 01-12-2009 05:24 AM

Mmmm, I hope Thomas can be retained and used at the DE spots. He's been one of our best DL players, it'd be a shame to lose the one draft pick we finally seem to have hit on.

Rohirrim 01-12-2009 06:58 AM

Brandon Spikes would be a good pick up for this defense. He can do it all; Rush, tackle, cover...

cmhargrove 01-12-2009 07:10 AM


Originally Posted by orange crusher (Post 2247125)
I still think Woodyard can play ILB. James Farrior was weighing in at 218 pounds in December. It's easy to discount WW as an ILB in a 3-4 because of his weight, but I think he will prove people wrong. I guess we'll see how it all shakes out.

I agree, when the status quo is thrown out the window (Slowik) - the coaches will immediately identify WW's playmaking abilities.

I would not be surprised at all to see him as a starter by the end of TC next year.

Wow, this is going to be interesting.

cmhargrove 01-12-2009 07:12 AM


Originally Posted by Rohirrim (Post 2247230)
Brandon Spikes would be a good pick up for this defense. He can do it all; Rush, tackle, cover...

Why wouldn't Curry now be the more important pick?

We have been looking at Rey and Spikes because of a 4-3 MLB spot, but shouldn't we be talking about the potential of Curry as a 3-4 OLB?

GoBroncos DownUnder 01-12-2009 07:13 AM


Originally Posted by orange crusher (Post 2247125)
I still think Woodyard can play ILB. James Farrior was weighing in at 218 pounds in December.

Farrior has NOT weighed under 220 since High School, where did you pull that "stat" from?? (I'd say 235 at MINIMUM this year)

Dumerville COULD make a massive leap as OLB in the 3-4 ... depends on how he adapts though, so we can figure out which OLB/side!

Dump the Suggs idea, you seen the "after the ball" crap he pulls??? Putting your hand on the throat of a DOWNED Miami RB after the play was done is absolute crap, and should not be ignored. Let him go "implode" on some other team with his cheap/macho/thug/crap!

gyldenlove 01-12-2009 08:24 AM

We need linemen more than anything to play the 3-4. We need a NG desperately, as well as at least a pair of 2-gap DE's. Carlton Powell could MAYBE play one of the DE's, he is a run stopper and has faced double teams before, he is pretty good at facing the play and uses a stacks the point of attack more than he relies on quick burst like Thomas.

If we do switch to 3-4 I expect our 1st draft pick will be BJ Raji who will go in a rotation at NG right away. I expect we will be after a smallish DT in the middle rounds, maybe one of the Georgia Tech guys.

If he is still there in the 2nd round Cushing could come into play as an OLB. He is a Calvin Pace clone.

I think Jarvis Moss will get looks at OLB, a lot of people liked him as a 3-4 OLB in the draft back then.

Drek 01-12-2009 08:31 AM


Originally Posted by cmhargrove (Post 2247240)
Why wouldn't Curry now be the more important pick?

We have been looking at Rey and Spikes because of a 4-3 MLB spot, but shouldn't we be talking about the potential of Curry as a 3-4 OLB?

Curry is probably the best LB prospect for any defense in the last decade. If he's available then hell yes, we should take him.

If not? Then I'd prefer BJ Raji who would be a dynamic NT.

I like some of the talent we have for a 3-4 though.

Thomas is an excellent option for the 3-4 DE job, and I think Crowder could be solid in the weakside DE role. Robertson has played in the 3-4 at NT, while he was only average there he'd make a solid stop gap option while we train our long term NT (Raji hopefully).

At OLB, well, I think it might be the position that best suits Jarvis Moss at this point, since he clearly can't add weight, and the 3-4 OLB is probably the only position Dumervil might be an every down starter in. Even if he isn't I think he'd play well as an OLB who gets up on the line in a three point stance a la Willie McGinest.

Inside the MAC or Will role (weak side ILB) is a good fit for DJ, much like it was a good fit this year for Carlos Dansby. Larsen also finds an immediate home in the starting lineup next to him as the Mike (strong side ILB).

We'll need to get a lot of extra depth across the board in the front seven, but our young high potential guys almost all find a home. Woodyard is the tough one to place but I don't really rule him out, guy is a gamer and he's always finding a way to get on the field.

Rabb 01-12-2009 08:31 AM

I would love to see that safety from USC now more than before, what a monster he could be if we straighten our line out

orange crusher 01-12-2009 08:47 AM


Originally Posted by GoBroncos DownUnder (Post 2247241)
Farrior has NOT weighed under 220 since High School, where did you pull that "stat" from?? (I'd say 235 at MINIMUM this year)

Dumerville COULD make a massive leap as OLB in the 3-4 ... depends on how he adapts though, so we can figure out which OLB/side!

Dump the Suggs idea, you seen the "after the ball" crap he pulls??? Putting your hand on the throat of a DOWNED Miami RB after the play was done is absolute crap, and should not be ignored. Let him go "implode" on some other team with his cheap/macho/thug/crap!

Before you call BS, you could try a simple google search. It really isn't that difficult, but here:

So yes, Farrior WAS 218.

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