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View Full Version : Effectiveness of 3-4 vs. 4-3 is found in the numbers


tony hipchest
12-18-2008, 09:30 PM
another must read kirwan article complete with x's and o's and 9 chalkboard diagrams drawing up different plays-

http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d80d6974b&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true

Getting to the quarterback is critical to any football team's success -- perhaps second only to the quarterback's ability to throw the ball. There's debate about the most effective way of sacking the signal-caller, but some clues about what works best have been revealed this season.

The top three pass rushers this season are outside linebackers from 3-4 defenses. Dallas' DeMarcus Ware (19), Miami's Joey Porter (17.5) and Pittsburgh's James Harrison (15) have 51.5 sacks between them. The top three pass rushers from 4-3 defenses -- Atlanta's John Abraham (15.5), Minnesota's Jared Allen (14.5) and Carolina's Julius Peppers (12.5) -- all are defensive ends and have 42.5 sacks between them.

So, is the 3-4 defense a better package for rushing the passer? Is the 4-3 defense easier for an offensive line to counter? Those are some of the questions I'll try to answer here.


3-4 outside linebacker blitz
Two weeks ago against the Cowboys, the Steelers' creative defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, occasionally put both outside linebackers next to each other rather than one on each side in the 3-4. The outside linebacker stepped inside the other linebacker, and it was clear sailing to the quarterback.

The 3-4 defense offers flexibility in looks, features quicker athletes rushing from the outside and forces offensive adjustments that empty the backfield. Not many teams want to be in a 4-3 defense when the opponent has a 3-by-2 empty set with no one in the backfield except the quarterback. However, 3-4 teams are ready for that adjustment with a three-man rush while many four-man fronts have to pop out a lineman into coverage.

The NFL's top two defenses (Pittsburgh and Baltimore) are 3-4 teams. The top two defenses in sacks (Dallas and Pittsburgh) are 3-4 teams. Therefore, it might be time to consider the 3-4 a better package against modern offenses.
i bring up this play because madden brought it up on his weekly spot on sirius with adam schein. he was talking about how he sees the steelers lining up in formations and giving looks he has never seen before.

he also went on to say that the steelers defense runs THROUGH blockers and ball carriers while making tackles unlike any he has seen in his whole career. this from somebody who is as familiar with j. tatum and j. lambert, as anyone else.

he basically just stopped short of calling them the best defense ever. it was pretty heavy praise coming from someone who many contend is a steeler hater.

TheWarDen86
12-18-2008, 09:33 PM
Good stuff Tony, thanks!:drink:
I'm sorry I missed the Schein/Madden call on Sirius. Figures.....

43Hitman
12-18-2008, 09:37 PM
Great find Tony. It's true, I love when I see Harrison and Woodley lined up on the same side. It usually means sure death to either the RB or the QB. Thanks for sharing bro!!

ShutDown24
12-18-2008, 09:41 PM
While I agree that the 3-4 is a superior package, this article does only compare the two in terms of pass rush. I think that overall other things need to be taken into account when determining which is the dominant system.

Steelman16
12-19-2008, 12:22 AM
Great article. The thing about the 3-4 is that you have to build it over time. We've done an excellent job of constantly and consistently finding gems that fit into the system.

Overall, I like the 3-4 and what it brings. Even on Madden in franchise mode, I always build for a 3-4 and eventually switch. (if I'm not playing as the Steelers)

Dino 6 Rings
12-19-2008, 07:08 AM
While I agree that the 3-4 is a superior package, this article does only compare the two in terms of pass rush. I think that overall other things need to be taken into account when determining which is the dominant system.

Like having Clark, Troy, Taylor, McFadden, Gay and Townsend in the secondary!

DACEB
12-19-2008, 07:46 AM
While I agree that the 3-4 is a superior package, this article does only compare the two in terms of pass rush. I think that overall other things need to be taken into account when determining which is the dominant system.

I think when you start to look into those other factors it would provide even further evidence that the 3-4 is superior in terms of scheme and flexability. With less 'bigs' on the field you have more atheletes to counter what weapons the offense has on the field.

markymarc
12-19-2008, 07:10 PM
Great stuff and thanks for finding and posting this information Tony. In order to be fair though they really should compare everything including passing defense along with stopping the run.

steelwall
12-19-2008, 08:20 PM
Hampton sucking up 2 blockers helps as well in the 3/4

devilsdancefloor
12-19-2008, 09:00 PM
the only thing i go noooooo noooo is when harrison and woodly both drop into passnig lanes and we just run 3! (i am sure i will eat my words soon cause one will get in a lane for a slant and int lol) But i totally agree that the 3-4 allows the best players on the field at the same time. Not to long ago the steelers where one of the only teams who ran the 3-4. So now with al the teams switching over i am sure it is very diffcult to find those gems in the rough to draft. But we do such a awesome job. Great article thanks for posting it!

markymarc
12-20-2008, 03:06 PM
the only thing i go noooooo noooo is when harrison and woodly both drop into passnig lanes and we just run 3! (i am sure i will eat my words soon cause one will get in a lane for a slant and int lol)

I am with you on that feeling. While I know the OLB are responsible for dropping into coverage at times, I would much rather see them both going after the QB most of the time.