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Old 05-28-2009, 12:19 PM   #1
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Default Breakdown of 3-4 Positions vs. 4-3 - Good Read

Break down position by position ...


NOSE TACKLE
Old job: In the 4-3 defense, the Packers used two defensive tackles to occupy the center and two guards. The primary responsibility of the tackles was to take up blockers so the linebackers could make plays stopping the run. Any pass rush was a bonus.

New job: There is only one "tackle" is this defense. He should be the strongest person on the defense because he must occupy at least two offensive linemen on each play in the base defense. If he fails, then the center and/or guards will have no trouble wiping out the two inside linebackers.

Biggest adjustment: "You're not going to be making the plays you used to make," said former Packer Gilbert Brown, who played a similar position in Fritz Shurmur's defense in the 1990s. "You're going to be getting constantly pounded on for the whole game. One of your first things is make sure you're holding up these guys so your linebackers can roam and get free. You can't get pushed out of there; you have to stay low."




DEFENSIVE ENDS

Old job: Pretty simple. Rush the passer on passing plays. They were the designated sackers. Set a hard edge against the run.

New job: Be much more of a worker bee. They must occupy blockers to make the run defense and pass blitzes work. The ends will not be counted on as much for sacks. The blitzing linebackers and/or safeties will fill whichever gap the end is not in to generate pressure. Ends play much like tackles in the old scheme.

Biggest adjustment: "It's a very unselfish position," said Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert. "In college or in the pros, those guys are used to getting to the quarterback. That's their goal. Now they might not get a sack for several games. That's hard to adjust to for certain guys. But they are very important to the defense. They must be strong and hold the line."



INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Old job: The Sanders scheme had only one middle linebacker, Nick Barnett as the Mike, and he was designed to be the playmaker. With two defensive tackles up front, Barnett was allowed to run free and make tackles from sideline to sideline.

New job: Barnett and A.J. Hawk, who was the starting weak-side linebacker in the 4-3, essentially switch positions. Hawk will play more of the Mike role with an emphasis of attacking the run and blitzing. Barnett will have more coverage responsibilities.

Biggest adjustment: Brian Noble, former Packers ILB: "In a 3-4 defense, you have to take linemen on and what these guys have been used to in a 4-3 is that they just fly around and make plays. They never had to really take anybody on. They were protected by all the big tackles they had in front of them. When you get into that 3-4 and those offensive linemen start pushing and combo blocking, the linebackers are going to have to come up and hit somebody and not only stop them in their spot but hold their ground and get off them and make a play. And to me that's going to be the hardest thing."



LEFT OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

Old job: In the 4-3 scheme used by Sanders, Aaron Kampman was a defensive end whose primary responsibility was to rush the passer. On a few occasions, he was asked to drop into zone pass coverage.

New job: It will depend on how the defense is lined up. Most of the time, Kampman will be asked to rush the passer. Kampman is a creature of habit, and he has been one of the league's best at rushing the previous seven seasons. The Packers want to make the transition as comfortable as possible for him. But he's also going to have to drop into coverage more often and read the offense to figure out his responsibility.

Biggest adjustment: "The hardest part is probably having to drop back into coverage and opening your hips up to be able to move like that," Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor said about the similar switch he made in 2005. "It is a lot different then lining up as defensive end and going forward and chasing the quarterback or chasing the ball carrier. You have to play with your pads over your knees and your knees bent and play low and still come out with power and be able to drop back and move around in zones. It is not an impossible position; it is just a little different when you have been doing one thing for so long. . . .It is a completely different position than I have played in the past."



RIGHT OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

Old job: The strong-side linebacker in the old scheme was asked to take on blockers at the point of attack against the run, and to cover the tight end on pass routes.

New job: This is a new position that will blend new and old techniques. Undoubtedly the right outside linebacker will be asked to blitz more than in the past. But how versatile the job description will be likely will depend on how adept Kampman is at dropping into coverage on the other side.

Biggest adjustment: ESPN analyst Merril Hoge: "The guy on the right side is going to need to be able to recognize when the offense is setting protection to Kampman's side. When that happens, Dom Capers is going to bring him. The Packers will ask that guy to blitz a lot more than they have in the past. There's a technique to that."[/COLOR]



FREE SAFETY

Old job: Most of the time the free safety stayed back as the last line of defense and was free to jump coverages as he saw fit. Provided run support if the back got past the linebackers.

New job: Takes over for the middle linebacker as the quarterback of the defense. Free safety must make all the calls to the keep the defense on the same page. Pass and run responsibilities remain the same but stays deeper more often.



STRONG SAFETY

Old job: To be an extra linebacker in the box and to provide coverage help, usually against the tight end. Had to be adept at making open-field tackles against running backs.

New job: One of the playmakers on the defense - think Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Is a mainstay in the box and likely will be asked to blitz often. Has to anticipate and cover for mistakes made by the front seven.
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Old 05-28-2009, 06:53 PM   #2
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