View Full Version : Steelers' Tomlin shrugs off scheme talk

04-03-2008, 04:07 AM
Steelers' Tomlin shrugs off scheme talk
By Scott Brown
Thursday, April 3, 2008

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Two years into his job as head coach of the Steelers, Mike Tomlin still can't make people forget about his past.
Specifically, they recall that he became a disciple of the 4-3 defense after breaking into the NFL as a defensive backs coach under Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay.

The significance of his NFL upbringing is that the Steelers have a long and successful history with the 3-4 scheme that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau employs. So, when the Steelers do something as simple as hosting free-agent defensive tackle Anthony "Booger" McFarland, it prompts the questions of whether Tomlin is trying to stock his team with players that will allow him to switch his defense.

"A lot of people like to trace my origins to Tampa, Fla., but I coached a little football in college prior to that," Tomlin said at the NFL owners meetings. "I've been involved with a 3-4 defense, a 4-3 defense. The longer you coach, there's many ways to skin it. You better skin it in a direction that lends itself to your guys being able to do what they do best."

Tomlin made it clear this week that he is not changing direction in regard to the way the Steelers play defense, no matter what signals he sends out that suggest otherwise.
Those include the recent meeting with McFarland, who always has played in a 4-3 defense, and they even can be tracked back to last year with the drafting of Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.

The Steelers selected Timmons in the first round with the idea that he could play either inside or outside linebacker (the team has moved him inside after he spent the 2007 season backing up outside linebacker James Harrison). They also took Woodley, who played defensive end at the University of Michigan, in the second round and converted him to outside linebacker.

"We've got a great deal of continuity in terms of (the 3-4). We play great defense. It's not broke, so why fix it?" Tomlin said. "To me, part of good coaching is doing what your guys do well and putting them in position to be successful."

One fundamental difference between the 3-4 and the 4-3 is how pressure on the quarterback is generated. The latter generally relies on the four down-linemen; in the former, outside linebackers figure more prominently in the pass rush.

Given how much players move before and after the snap and how defensive coordinators try to disguise what they are trying to do in today's NFL, there is a question as to how much of a difference there is between the 3-4 and the 4-3.

After all, each is simply a base defense.

"A lot of it's semantics," Carolina Panthers coach John Fox said. "Everybody plays the same spacing. It's just kind of really where you start with the numbers with (defensive) linemen and linebackers."

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, however, said the difference between the 3-4 and the 4-3 is more than just "labeling."

Bills coach Dick Jauron agreed.

"Almost everybody is multiple, but to greater and lesser degrees," Jauron said. "I don't think too much is made of (the difference) because offensively you handle those schemes a little bit different. Your protections change some; your matchups change some."

Teams won't have to change against the Steelers for the foreseeable future.

They still will line up in the 3-4 and try to disguise where they are bringing pressure from by sometimes morphing into a 5-2 alignment, among other things.

Tomlin can only laugh about the talk that the Steelers will change their basic alignment. After all, he said, most if not all defenses in the NFL show so many different looks during the course of a game that calling one a 3-4 or a 4-3 is almost irrelevant.

"Whether it's football or otherwise, everybody always wants to be able to put people in a box, and I understand that," Tomlin said. "I don't try to defend what we are or who we are. It's barbershop talk. Let people have their fun."

Galax Steeler
04-03-2008, 04:43 AM
I think we will be 3-4 for as long as dick L is still deffensive cordinater and after he is gone than I can see us going to a 4-3.

04-03-2008, 08:41 AM
Hey if switching to a base 4-3 helps us win another Super Bowl then I say pull the plug on the 3-4 now and switch. But since there is no guaretee of that, I'll stick by my coach and his philosophy.

04-03-2008, 08:45 AM
Dear Lord, WE ARE NOT GOING TO THE 4-3!!! Not now. Not any time soon. This a 3-4 team with 3-4 personel. Give it a rest with the 4-3 talk. It ain't happening....

04-03-2008, 08:58 AM
I love our defense, but I think its more the intensity that they play then the alignment. Just because Mike Tomlin has run the 4-3 in the past, and could possibly run it again is n't going to make me start rooting for the next 3-4 team I come across. 4-3 or 3-4 if it produces the hits and the excitement and most importantly one of the top defenses in the NFL, I am pretty content.:tt02:

Rhee Rhee
04-03-2008, 02:53 PM
im all for a hybrid system but for now i'd say stick to the 3-4 until we get another bigger DE/OLB opposite woodley and a solid 4-3 pass rushing DT...

04-03-2008, 03:11 PM
Like the article says, there's too much time spent worrying about whether you call yourself a 4/3 or a 3/4 defense. No defense lines up the same two plays in a row.

Barbershop talk.

04-03-2008, 04:35 PM
Barbershop talk.

I wish my barber talked Steelers football!!!! :sofunny:

04-03-2008, 05:14 PM
If you ask me, a renewed 4-3 Steel curtain sounds kinda nice.

04-03-2008, 05:33 PM
If you ask me, a renewed 4-3 Steel curtain sounds kinda nice.

Yeah... I'm so used to a 3-4 for the last how many years, my jaw dropped the other night when watching the old Super Bowls and realizing we ran 4-3 back then.

I paraphrase a few other posts... we have 3-4 personell.... and the defense is already relatively fluid so all the 3-4, 4-3 labelling is a waste of time

Let the D be the D as long as it is INTENSE and getting the job done!