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Old 05-20-2010, 05:36 PM   #1
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Default 3/4 Defense, Is Martindale the Answer?

I was watching a Video on NFL Network where Warren Sapp and Jamie Dukes were discussing the 3/4 defense and the necessity of having the right coordinator to call the defense. I've heard it several places now but apparently there are only 7 or 8 guys in the league that can call the 3/4 properly. A couple of questions for discussion:

Do you feel it's accurate that there are only several people in the league who can call the defense?

Is Martindale one of those guys or is Josh rolling the dice with him?

Discuss:
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:39 PM   #2
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http://www.milehighreport.com/2010/5...alist-whatever

educate yourself...



Lost in your regularly scheduled blatheringon NFLN yesterday was a terrific opportunity to talk about something significant happening to the Denver Bronco defense.
And no, I'm not talking about the revelation that Don Martindale isn't a "3-4 specialist," whatever that means. Dukes' comment that there are only a handful of good signal callers for the 3-4 in the NFL doesn't hold water at first glance, which is all I plan on giving it, but I'll leave Steve Nichols with the final word on that subject. From his MHR University 3-4 post:
So is the 3-4 a "coach driven" scheme, or is it based on personnel?

The truth is, any defensive coordinator can run a 4-3 or 3-4 indifferently. While coaches have preferences, they more often defer to what they have available. If the team could go either way, the coordinator is probably going with what he is more comfortable with.
In a discussion on points of interest to watch for as several teams begin their OTAs, NFLN missed a wide-open opportunity to talk about something that definitely is interesting, and simultaneously they managed to bring up Wink without getting close to the real story in Denver, which Wink also happens to be central to.
The story of the defense isn't one of a defensive coordinator promoted beyond his means, it is a story of a defense finishing its conversion to something completely different...

Mike Nolan was the first step in the reinvention of the Denver defense, and a better contractor couldn't have been found for the task. Nolan has come to be known as one of the pre-eminent "fix-it" men in the league, with multiple stops under his belt, preaching the gospel of the 3-4 conversion in true troubadour style. His specialty was the hybridized 3-4/4-3/whatever-the-heck-else-might-work, and in Denver that happened to be a 3-4/5-2 combo that used existing personnel in a way that would benefit them, and the team, the most.
It also put the focus on a more bend-but-don't break architecture, with down-lineman playing 2-gap football. This was classic Fairbanks-Bullough, with strong contain concepts, limited blitzing, and rare LB pressure on the QB. Nolan brought pressure into the scheme by adding the 5-2 part of the equation, which brought a numbers overload on the DL, while opening up opportunities for some tweaked zone-blitz concepts. This gave the Denver defense equal parts conservative mindset and skills, via the 3-4, and a more aggressive mindset via the 5-2. It was also a relatively simple system to install on a defense which had 7-8 new starters.
It wasn't meant to last. It was simply the first step in transition.
Along with all the other Bronco Assistant Coaches, Nolan's contract was set to expire after 2011, part of the Broncos' plan not to lock in too many things during a transition period. As part of this plan, they also took on the idea that if assistant's could get promoted elsewhere, the team would be open and encouraging to that promotion. When the Broncos received a written request to interview Nolan from the Dolphins, applying the attitude about wanting what was best for their assistants led to them opening up the decision for Nolan to make a lateral move, as reported by the NFL's Sam Wyche:
The Dolphins sent the Broncos a written request to interview Nolan. McDaniels approached Nolan with the request and, in a nutshell, asked him if he’d rather be in Miami or Denver. Nolan said he would like to interview with the Dolphins. McDaniels then granted Nolan permission and wished him well.
For Nolan, the decision involved a number of factors, not the least of which was that his contract was set to expire on the eve of a possible lockout in 2011. But perhaps equally as important was the fact that Miami needed him, for exactly the sort of job he seemed to excel at, with unique new challenge for him. The Dolphins, who already ran a 3-4/4-3 hybrid, wanted to start getting some pressure from it without having to invest to heavily at NT, so Nolan was brought in to "tweak" them into shape. His solution so far seems to be a heavier emphasis on some 2-gap concepts, as well as visualizing multiple roles for interior linemen like rookie Jared Odrick.
Meanwhile, in Denver, Don Martindale's promotion heralded something similar. Martindale's background, as Warren Sapp correctly notes in the NFLN piece referenced above, was as a coordinator for 4-3 defenses, which are one-gap, penetrating schemes. Along with Martindale's promotion, multiple DL signings carried intrigue. On the one hand the late season fade of the DL was a major contributor in the Denver rush defense dropping from 2nd in the league through the 1st 9 weeks of the season to 31st over the last 7. The added depth that the signings represents is, of course, vital.
But certain additions, like Jamal Williams, represent allegiance to 1-gap principles, especially when one considers that the coach for the DL will be none other than Wayne Nunnely, who ran a penetrating attack style Phillips 3-4 in San Diego, where Williams also made his name. Hoosierteacher adds the following about Phillips' system:
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.
Existing players like Marcus Thomas, who's natural talent is as a 1-gap style penetrator, could be expected to thrive, whether at end or inside. New additions like Jarvis Green are players that could get a lot more mileage in a Phillips D compared to their limited situational rusher roles in a Fairbanks-Bullough.
Now, this all makes a decent case for a move to a Phillips 3-4, but of course, in Denver it is never as simple as that. This defense will be expected to know the 1-gap 3-4 as well as the 2-gap 3-4, and be able to shift between the two ideas seamlessly, either from game to game, or possibly even play to play. All part of the amoeba concept. The 5-2 variation on the Denver defense may get phased out, or it may be retained for its zone-blitz concepts, but it is doubtful to be used anywhere near as much as last year, which will make the defense more complicated to game-plan for, and hopefully, more effective as the season wears on.
Now, isn't that a much better story than "Wink isn't a 3-4 specialist?"
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:40 PM   #3
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let me add: JAMIE DUKES IS A GIANT TURD AND SO IS WARREN SAPP.
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:40 PM   #4
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If Sapp and Dukes agree then there is no way in hell it is correct.

Prior to the 2007 season who was considered the best OC in the league? Things change very quickly in the NFL and maybe last year only 7 or 8 guys could manage a 3-4, but who is to say this year things won't be different?

The NFL changes so fast that it is almost pointless to use history as an argument for anything, 5 years ago there weren't even 8 teams who played the 3-4, now nearly half the league uses the 3-4 to some extend. With that kind of popularity more people will become versed in how to run the defense and make tweaks to it.
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:41 PM   #5
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Jamie Dukes is a sarcastic ass shat. I will not lower myself to watch this m f'er anymore. I mean what are we going to do without Nolan? His 3 4 scheme really held strong the last half of the season. It had nothing to do with poor d line performance down the stretch.....
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by hambone13 View Post
I've heard it several places now but apparently there are only 7 or 8 guys in the league that can call the 3/4 properly.
I think one of them works for the Dolphins. Now.
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:45 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by crush17 View Post
http://www.milehighreport.com/2010/5...alist-whatever

educate yourself...



Lost in your regularly scheduled blatheringon NFLN yesterday was a terrific opportunity to talk about something significant happening to the Denver Bronco defense.
And no, I'm not talking about the revelation that Don Martindale isn't a "3-4 specialist," whatever that means. Dukes' comment that there are only a handful of good signal callers for the 3-4 in the NFL doesn't hold water at first glance, which is all I plan on giving it, but I'll leave Steve Nichols with the final word on that subject. From his MHR University 3-4 post:
So is the 3-4 a "coach driven" scheme, or is it based on personnel?

The truth is, any defensive coordinator can run a 4-3 or 3-4 indifferently. While coaches have preferences, they more often defer to what they have available. If the team could go either way, the coordinator is probably going with what he is more comfortable with.
In a discussion on points of interest to watch for as several teams begin their OTAs, NFLN missed a wide-open opportunity to talk about something that definitely is interesting, and simultaneously they managed to bring up Wink without getting close to the real story in Denver, which Wink also happens to be central to.
The story of the defense isn't one of a defensive coordinator promoted beyond his means, it is a story of a defense finishing its conversion to something completely different...

Mike Nolan was the first step in the reinvention of the Denver defense, and a better contractor couldn't have been found for the task. Nolan has come to be known as one of the pre-eminent "fix-it" men in the league, with multiple stops under his belt, preaching the gospel of the 3-4 conversion in true troubadour style. His specialty was the hybridized 3-4/4-3/whatever-the-heck-else-might-work, and in Denver that happened to be a 3-4/5-2 combo that used existing personnel in a way that would benefit them, and the team, the most.
It also put the focus on a more bend-but-don't break architecture, with down-lineman playing 2-gap football. This was classic Fairbanks-Bullough, with strong contain concepts, limited blitzing, and rare LB pressure on the QB. Nolan brought pressure into the scheme by adding the 5-2 part of the equation, which brought a numbers overload on the DL, while opening up opportunities for some tweaked zone-blitz concepts. This gave the Denver defense equal parts conservative mindset and skills, via the 3-4, and a more aggressive mindset via the 5-2. It was also a relatively simple system to install on a defense which had 7-8 new starters.
It wasn't meant to last. It was simply the first step in transition.
Along with all the other Bronco Assistant Coaches, Nolan's contract was set to expire after 2011, part of the Broncos' plan not to lock in too many things during a transition period. As part of this plan, they also took on the idea that if assistant's could get promoted elsewhere, the team would be open and encouraging to that promotion. When the Broncos received a written request to interview Nolan from the Dolphins, applying the attitude about wanting what was best for their assistants led to them opening up the decision for Nolan to make a lateral move, as reported by the NFL's Sam Wyche:
The Dolphins sent the Broncos a written request to interview Nolan. McDaniels approached Nolan with the request and, in a nutshell, asked him if he’d rather be in Miami or Denver. Nolan said he would like to interview with the Dolphins. McDaniels then granted Nolan permission and wished him well.
For Nolan, the decision involved a number of factors, not the least of which was that his contract was set to expire on the eve of a possible lockout in 2011. But perhaps equally as important was the fact that Miami needed him, for exactly the sort of job he seemed to excel at, with unique new challenge for him. The Dolphins, who already ran a 3-4/4-3 hybrid, wanted to start getting some pressure from it without having to invest to heavily at NT, so Nolan was brought in to "tweak" them into shape. His solution so far seems to be a heavier emphasis on some 2-gap concepts, as well as visualizing multiple roles for interior linemen like rookie Jared Odrick.
Meanwhile, in Denver, Don Martindale's promotion heralded something similar. Martindale's background, as Warren Sapp correctly notes in the NFLN piece referenced above, was as a coordinator for 4-3 defenses, which are one-gap, penetrating schemes. Along with Martindale's promotion, multiple DL signings carried intrigue. On the one hand the late season fade of the DL was a major contributor in the Denver rush defense dropping from 2nd in the league through the 1st 9 weeks of the season to 31st over the last 7. The added depth that the signings represents is, of course, vital.
But certain additions, like Jamal Williams, represent allegiance to 1-gap principles, especially when one considers that the coach for the DL will be none other than Wayne Nunnely, who ran a penetrating attack style Phillips 3-4 in San Diego, where Williams also made his name. Hoosierteacher adds the following about Phillips' system:
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.
Existing players like Marcus Thomas, who's natural talent is as a 1-gap style penetrator, could be expected to thrive, whether at end or inside. New additions like Jarvis Green are players that could get a lot more mileage in a Phillips D compared to their limited situational rusher roles in a Fairbanks-Bullough.
Now, this all makes a decent case for a move to a Phillips 3-4, but of course, in Denver it is never as simple as that. This defense will be expected to know the 1-gap 3-4 as well as the 2-gap 3-4, and be able to shift between the two ideas seamlessly, either from game to game, or possibly even play to play. All part of the amoeba concept. The 5-2 variation on the Denver defense may get phased out, or it may be retained for its zone-blitz concepts, but it is doubtful to be used anywhere near as much as last year, which will make the defense more complicated to game-plan for, and hopefully, more effective as the season wears on.
Now, isn't that a much better story than "Wink isn't a 3-4 specialist?"
Great article. Thanks for posting it. I wasn't hoping to discuss Dukes and Sapp. I agree they're both douches. That's why I specifically put questions in the OP. Where is this mysterious conversion headed? If any coach can coach either way, then why is Nolan the "specialist" in converting? There seems to be some contradiction there.

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Old 05-20-2010, 05:53 PM   #8
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I think one of them works for the Dolphins. Now.
Have you heard that before, other than from the not so splendid Dukes? It seems I've heard other analysts say it as well.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:08 PM   #9
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NFL Network basically spends most of their time hating on the Broncos.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:09 PM   #10
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I find the notion that there are only 7 or 8 guys on the planet are capable of calling a 3-4 defense to be absolutely laughable, quite frankly.

What happened, did someone gather these guys one day and give them some sort of magic potion to drink that gave them powers that nobody else could ever attain?

Sure, there are only a few people who have proven that they can do it.

But that's not the same thing. AT ALL.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:13 PM   #11
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NFL Network basically spends most of their time hating on the Broncos.
I do wonder if that dig McD took at them after the Giants game struck some sort of chord with someone in the NFLN.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:31 PM   #12
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I do wonder if that dig McD took at them after the Giants game struck some sort of chord with someone in the NFLN.
What was the dig? I don't recall it.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:48 PM   #13
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I find the notion that there are only 7 or 8 guys on the planet are capable of calling a 3-4 defense to be absolutely laughable, quite frankly.

What happened, did someone gather these guys one day and give them some sort of magic potion to drink that gave them powers that nobody else could ever attain?

Sure, there are only a few people who have proven that they can do it.

But that's not the same thing. AT ALL.
Is there anything you're aware of that points towards Martindale being a solid prospect or is this just his shot? I would think that that fact that he's a 4/3 guy by experience is a bit of a red flag.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:53 PM   #14
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NFL Network basically spends most of their time hating on the Broncos.
Dukes & Sapp are so bad, it makes one actually want to watch ESPN instead
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:58 PM   #15
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NFL Network basically spends most of their time hating on the Broncos.
I wonder if it has anything to do with the number of ex-Raiders they employ.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:59 PM   #16
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What was the dig? I don't recall it.
Wasn't it something in response to his MF remark on the air, something like "It's the NFL Network, it doesn't surprise me"

It didn't surprise me either
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Old 05-20-2010, 07:05 PM   #17
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Have you heard that before, other than from the not so splendid Dukes? It seems I've heard other analysts say it as well.
I noticed that myself when we went from the worst defense in the league last year to the 7th ranked defense this year.
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Old 05-20-2010, 07:15 PM   #18
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Is there anything you're aware of that points towards Martindale being a solid prospect or is this just his shot? I would think that that fact that he's a 4/3 guy by experience is a bit of a red flag.

Here, it's an article from back in January highlighting how Don Martindale is actually from the Ryan (Rex, Buddy, etc) coaching tree.

http://www.denverpost.com/premium/broncos/ci_14298690

Broncos' Martindale, Ryan linked
By Mike Klis
The Denver Post
Posted: 01/30/2010 01:00:00 AM MST

Don "Wink" Martindale will be directing the Broncos' defense this upcoming season. ( Denver Post file photo, John Leyba )

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Don Martindale notified the hostess he and his son would be ready for a table, just as soon as his good friend and mentor joined him.

A minute or two later, Rex Ryan stepped up to the Pro Bowl hotel restaurant, ready for lunch. By the looks of them, Martindale and Ryan weren't going to be ordering watercress salads.

Was Ryan, who is now head coach of the defensive-oriented New York Jets, surprised that Martindale was promoted to his first NFL defensive coordinator gig by the Broncos?

"No," Ryan said. "He's not a first-year guy. He's been with the Ryan family forever."

"I've been with the Ryans for about 12 years," Martindale said. "It's that type of mentality, get guys playing hard. Schematically, you don't tip what you're going to do. But mostly, I know our guys are going to play hard, and we're going to be fun to watch."

If the Mannings — Archie, Peyton and Eli — are the first family of quarterbacks, the Ryans — Buddy, Rex and Rob — are the most prominent tribe of NFL defenses.

Martindale is part of the Ryan family. He may work directly for Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels now, but much of his defensive coaching education came from the Ryans. Martindale was part of Rex Ryan's defensive staff at the University of Cincinnati in 1996-97 and coached linebackers for Rob Ryan with the Oakland Raiders from 2004-08.

"Wink's going to be great, no question," Ryan said. "I told him he can finish second in the league."

The numbers say Ryan is the best defensive coach around. His Jets ranked No. 1 in total defense this past season, while his previous team, the Baltimore Ravens, ranked No. 2 in 2008.

The Broncos were No. 1 through six games in 2009 with Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator and Martindale as linebackers coach. But the Broncos' defensive performance fell precipitously in the final 10 games.

Showing he already has one vitalcharacteristic of becoming a quality defensive coordinator, Martindale doesn't pretend to know more than anyone else.

"It's hard to pinpoint one thing," said Martindale, who is here at the Pro Bowl as a guest of the prominent linebacker he coached this year, Elvis Dumervil. "If I had all the answers, we wouldn't have had that problem. I think it was the accumulation of things as a team. Just coming together, and staying together and working in unison. We saw that formula works. We saw that in the beginning of the year."

In the 3-4 defensive system, Ryan and Martindale trust. And yes, Martindale knows how to scheme the famed "46" defense devised by Buddy, the Ryan patriarch, in the mid- 1980s with the Chicago Bears.

"Mike used to always give me guff. Every time we'd go into a game, he'd say, 'OK, Rex,' " Martindale said.

Mike Nolan is another common link between Rex Ryan and Martindale. Nolan was the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator until he left in 2005 to become head coach in San Francisco. His job in Baltimore was filled by Ryan.

Nolan returned to Denver and the defensive coordinator position in 2009, until he left two weeks ago to take the same position with the Miami Dolphins. His job with the Broncos was filled by Martindale.

Oftentimes, an awkward strain can develop in a relationship when an underling succeeds his boss. Not so between Nolan and Martindale.

"He called and congratulated me," Martindale said. "I told him I was glad he left so I could take his job."

Martindale smiled. It sounded like something Rex Ryan would say.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:01 PM   #19
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Wasn't it something in response to his MF remark on the air, something like "It's the NFL Network, it doesn't surprise me"

It didn't surprise me either
Yep.

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Old 05-20-2010, 08:06 PM   #20
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Is Martindale one of those guys or is Josh rolling the dice with him?

Discuss:

It's Josh's defense that he brought with him from New England. Martindale is just going to help him run it, just like Nolan did.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:47 PM   #21
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It's Josh's defense that he brought with him from New England. Martindale is just going to help him run it, just like Nolan did.
Huh?

Wasn't Josh the OC in NE? Nolan ran his own scheme.

I must be missing something here.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:00 PM   #22
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Huh?

Wasn't Josh the OC in NE? Nolan ran his own scheme.

I must be missing something here.
Josh was a Defensive Coaching Assistant coach from 2002-2003 for NE
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:02 PM   #23
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Josh was a Defensive Coaching Assistant coach from 2002-2003 for NE
That, and even Nolan openly talked about how Josh had him ditch the read and react defense for a more aggressive style defense like the Patriots run.
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Old 05-20-2010, 10:22 PM   #24
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To answer the question, those 6 good defenses were/are good because of personnel and good overall coaching not because one guy calls a good game.
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Old 05-20-2010, 10:33 PM   #25
montrose
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Originally Posted by Florida_Bronco View Post
That, and even Nolan openly talked about how Josh had him ditch the read and react defense for a more aggressive style defense like the Patriots run.
Yeah I remember that, having watched Nolan's defenses in Baltimore and the one year I watched from SF (08), there were some differences - but no scheme stays the same year-to-year.
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