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4-3 53%  53%  [ 10 ]
3-4 47%  47%  [ 9 ]
Total votes : 19
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 Post subject: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 09:44 
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Hypothetical Situation -- If you were a defensive coordinator of an all-star team and had the opportunity to cherry pick from all the defensive players in the NFL, but had to choose a predominantly 3-4 or 4-3 alignment, which one would you pick and why? Assume that of all the offensive teams you would be facing, half are stronger in the passing game and the other half are stronger in the running game.

I'm mostly curious to see if there's a public sentiment out there among the knowledgeable that one alignment is superior, all other things being equal.

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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 10:00 
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4-3

If you can get consistent pressure from just rushing 4, your defense can be elite.

Just ask Tom Brady after facing the Giants D-Line twice in the SB.

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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 10:00 
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So much of that question is personnel driven. In a 3-4 you must have a dominating, immovable nose tackle (a Wilfork or a BJ Raji-type), and a disruptive mobile OLB who can rush the passer and drop into coverage and ILBs who can stuff the run. In the all-star game scenario you describe, it'd be a lot easier for the d-lineman to have 1-gap responsibility in a 4-3, as opposed to having to play two-gaps in a 3-4. So, it depends on who I've got. If I've got BJ Raji and Clay Matthews, I'm running a 3-4, if I've got Jason Pierre Paul and Justin Tuck, I'm running a 4-3.

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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 10:16 
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I've always had a personal preference for the 4-3. I'm not 100% sure why, I think it might be because I enjoy seeing the d-line and the o-line line up and go head to head in one-on-one battles for the most part. As opposed to the less straightforward 3-4 where a lot more of it is based on deception. If I could have my pick of d-linemen who would win most of those one-on-one battles, I'd run the 4-3 for sure.


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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 10:19 
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This is a bit odd but I think the best defense to build is a 4-3. I think if you could select the best hall of famers, I would construct a 3-4. But that is because the skills of the 3-man D-line are rare. Most teams that build a 3-4 defense suck because you can't build a good 3-man D-line.

I didn't choose in the poll, because of that distinction. As a defensive coordinator I would build a 4-3. Even with 2 average DT's and 2 average DE's and 3 average LB's, you can make a good showing, and getting an above average position player can move that group up. If you get an average NT, 2 average DT's and 4 average LB's, you just can't do as well.

Surprisingly, I think Vince Woolfork might be the best NT ever.
3-4
DT Dan Hampton
NT Vince Woolfork
DT Warren Sapp

LB Lawrence Taylor
LB Jack Lambert
LB Ray Lewis or Dick Butkis
LB Derrick Thomas



4-3
DE Richard Dent
DT Warren Sapp
DT Joe Greene
DE Bruce Smith

LB Jack Lambert
LB Ray Lewis
LB Dick Butkis

Not surprisingly, both those defenses would be good. Both are weighted to the years I've followed football. I see names like Merlin Olsen at DT, but he finished in 1976 ... really before I watched as much football, and he played in LA ... I only watched the Bengals and the Bengals divisional opponents, and usually just until halftime (you know why). Dick Butkis is the lone guy I really never saw play at all.

I bet that 3-4 would be better than the 4-3 though. The defense is a bit more versatile with Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas being able to pass rush, defend the run, and even drop into zone coverage. But then again, imagine Dent and Smith lining up at opposite ends.

EDIT: I just saw your hypothetical was defensive coordinator of a current all-star team. I think what it comes down to is that in a 3-4 you need the high quality NT and the versatile outside linebackers ... at least one with outstanding pass rushing skills off the edge. If you have the personnel, use a 3-4. Otherwise sick with the 4-3.


Last edited by votingmachine on Wed 10.17.2012, 10:28, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 10:25 
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Houston's 5-2 is pretty good.

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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 10:46 
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votingmachine wrote:
This is a bit odd but I think the best defense to build is a 4-3. I think if you could select the best hall of famers, I would construct a 3-4. But that is because the skills of the 3-man D-line are rare. Most teams that build a 3-4 defense suck because you can't build a good 3-man D-line.


Interesting, I would actually go the other way with that. Yes, if we're talking about elite 3-4 linemen, then I agree, those guys are very difficult to find. When you consider that their main function in a 3-4 is to occupy blockers, sometimes two at a time, there aren't many players who can do that job and still break free for sacks and tackles as well. But, to me, a good 3-4 DL is someone who can do his primary job well - take on blockers and free up the LB's to make plays. In a 4-3, the DL has to be able to rush the passer but they also have to be able to play the run when necessary as well. I'd say it's easier to find three big guys who can focus on doing one thing well than to find four big guys who have to be able to do two things well.

In effect, in a 3-4, the DL's job is simplified and the LB's are asked to do more, making the quality of the LB's more important to the overall effectiveness of the defense. I think you can get away with just a good DL if you have elite LB's. While the opposite is true for the 4-3.


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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 12:12 
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If you could pick the best players, I'd go 4-3 every time.

A dominant front 4 is enough of a pass rush to create turnovers. Throw in some good dual-threat cover / run stop linebackers and an intelligent safety, and you don't even need good CBs.



Most of the reason teams go 3-4 is for versatility. If they miss a valuable asset, they can make up for it with scheming and strategy.

3-4 is more flexible in terms of personnel packages too, so you can still have 3 linebackers to stop the run when employing a nickel package.


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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 12:13 
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In all honesty i would go with a multiple set package using some form of both as both have good points in different situations. But if i had 2 choose 1 or the other it would be a 3-4. I think the 3-4 will be better to use for both the pass & the run if you have the right mix of Linebackers.

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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 12:23 
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I like 4-3, but I remember reading an article that it was easier to field 3-4 players in a world of draft and free agency.


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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 12:41 
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jetsman2806 wrote:
In all honesty i would go with a multiple set package using some form of both as both have good points in different situations. But if i had 2 choose 1 or the other it would be a 3-4. I think the 3-4 will be better to use for both the pass & the run if you have the right mix of Linebackers.


This. A lot more flexibility on press vs drop coverage, blitzes, etc.

W/ strong LBs, it's super effective.


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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 12:45 
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This is simplified but IMO, 4-3 is better against the run as it creates less bubbles at the LOS and the 3-4 is better against the pass because you can bring that 4th rusher from any of 4 locations. This is why so many teams are multiple in their defensive fronts.

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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 14:28 
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db45655 wrote:
I like 4-3, but I remember reading an article that it was easier to field 3-4 players in a world of draft and free agency.

I think this is a function of team's using it. A few years ago, most teams were using the 4-3. Players that fit better in a 3 man D-line and not so well in a 4 man D-line were available simply because no one wanted them. I recall when the 3-4 was the predominant defense and the Bengals started Wilson Whitley, Eddie Edwards, and Coy Bacon as the 3 down linemen and they would get driven back every running play.

Now most teams use a mix of the two formations. But for a while only Pittsburgh and New England used the 3-4 base as default. A lineman that fit the mold of nose tackle was going to one of those teams.

I hated the 3-4 as a kid watching the Bengals. They could not stop the run. When Tim Krumrie manned the NT and David Fulcher was a beast from the safety slot, they finally could almost stop the run.


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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 14:43 
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If I was a DC, I'd run a 3-4 because I know it a lot better than the 4-3. That's probably outside the point of this question though.


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 Post subject: Re: 4-3 vs. 3-4
PostPosted: Wed 10.17.2012, 15:08 
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A 3-4 requires 3 special players, a nose who can consistently draw a double team and still be a factor in both A gaps. The other 2 are MLB's that can take on guards and FB's with a 5 yard running start and cover backs out of the backfield in the passing game. Not easy to find these guys.

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