Fairbanks - Bullough 3-4 defensive system
The New England Patriots run a modified base 3-4 Chuck Fairbanks
- Hank Bullough
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)
. In the Patriots system the inside linebackers are the "Will" and "Mike" linebackers
. 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
, because each of the defensive linemen are required to cover the gaps to both sides of the offensive lineman
that try to block them
. 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
. 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
. 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
, 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"
The 3-4 defense was originally devised by Bud Wilkinson
at the University of Oklahoma
in the late 1940s
. 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
. Patriots defensive coordinator Hank Bullough
made significant further innovations to the system
. 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, 1916â€“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
, 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
. 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 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 (1970â€“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
. 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 (1970â€“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
. 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
. 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 (1967â€“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 (1960â€“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
. 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. ...