The 3-4 defense is all the rage in the NFL right now, and rumors persist that UW is leaning towards running it this spring. Everything old always becomes new again with a few twists. The 4-3 first became popular in the 80's when Chuck Noll started running it with the Steelers. Defenses come and go as offenses change to take advantage of them.
We have no idea what UW will run till they bring in a new DC who then has to take a good look at the personnel he is inheriting.
The 4-3 defense has the following characteristics:
There are 4 defensive lineman (DL) and 3 linebackers (LBs)
On plays where a LB or DB does not blitz, the pass rush is generated by the defensive linemen.
The DEs in particular must be able to get pressure on the QB. The best/fastest pass rushing DE typically plays at RDE and is referred to as the "rush end".
The LDE is referred to as the "base end" and must be solid against the run, because teams often run strong-side, which is the side where the TE is, and the TE often lines up next to the RT.
The DEs play from a 3-point stance, so they have a hand on the ground
The SLB matches up against the TE. SLBs are on the taller side for a LB.
The MLB plays the middle of the field and provides run support.
The WLB often plays in space, has the freedom to flow to the ball, and must have good range. WLBs are often undersized compared to the other LBs.
The 3-4 D has the following characteristics:
There are 3 defensive lineman (DL) and 4 linebackers (LBs)
The primary function of the DL is to protect the LBs and play the run. Each defensive lineman is responsible for 2 gaps.
The pass rush is generated by the 3-4 OLBs. On almost every play, 1 of the OLBs will rush the QB.
The OLBs play from a 2-point stance, so they're standing up
What are the advantages of the 3-4 defense?
The offense does not know which of the 2 OLBs is going to rush the QB, as both of the OLBs are in a 2-point stance.
This creates the following advantages:
It's harder for the offensive linemen to correctly determine their blocking assignments before the snap and execute
It puts more mental pressure on the QB, because the defense is harder to read.
It is more flexible than the 4-3 which allows for greater flexibility when it comes to situational substitutions
3-4 Defensive Alignment
The front 7 players in the 3-4 defense are significantly different from their counterparts in the 4-3. In a nutshell, the defensive line in the 3-4 are bigger than the defensive line in the 4-3. The 3-4 OLBs are bigger than 4-3 OLBs because they have to match up against OTs.
The 3-4 NT is the toughest position to fill. The NT plays head-up on the Center and is responsible for defending both gaps one each side of the Center in the running game. He faces constant double-teams and takes a pounding. He must have size, mental and physical toughness, stamina, durability, lateral quickness, and good technique in terms of playing with leverage. If the NT can not hold his ground, the defense is very vulnerable to runs between the tackles. You need a big, strong, quick guy for the middle that usually weighs over 300 pounds.
The DE's also have two gap responsibility. In college these guys weigh between 270-290 pounds. It's tough for a 3-4 DE to pick up as many sacks as a 4-3 DE, because a 3-4 DE doesn't have the freedom to go up field. He has to protect the LBs in order for the 3-4 to work.
3-4 ILBs must be stout in run support. Because there are only 3 DL to match up against 5 OL, they must be able to stack and shed an unblocked offensive lineman in the running game.
3-4 OLBs are the play makers of this defense. They get the glory of picking up sacks on the QB. They must have strong pass rush skills and also be able to drop into coverage. If the 3-4 OLBs are unable to consistently apply pressure on the QB, the defense is very vulnerable in the passing game. Many 4-3 OLBs are not suited to playing 3-4 OLB because they lack the pass rush skills and the ability to head on with an OT.
Why a 3-4 for Washington?
The main reason it is being kicked around is because Washington is going to be very green on the defensive line, and they have some talented LB's they could get on the field next year to help make up for that.
Will Washington have the right personnel to run a 3-4 this Fall?
This team was recruited with the idea of running a 4-3 defense. We will have 12-13 DL on the squad for next season. This is how the roster would most likely break down if we started playing a 3-4. These are just guesses using the Fall 2007 roster.
Ta'Amu is your prototype NT just by size alone, but is he ready to take on double teams every play as a true frosh?
Alameda Ta'Amu 6'4 330
Craig Noble 6'3 290
Jovan O'Connor 6'5 290
Tyrone Duncan 6'2 290
Cameron Elisara 6'2 275
Senio Kelemente 6'5 275
Nick Wood 6'2 265
Deshon Matthews 6'3 245
Daniel Teo Nesheim 6'4 265
Johnnie Kirton 6'3 270
Everette Thompson 6'6 255
Strong Outside Linebackers
You need a big LB that can go up against an offensive tackle. Just the place to put two of your smaller defensive ends.
Darion Jones 6'3 245
Kalani Aldrich 6'7 244
Fred Wiggs 6'1 230
Cory MacKay 6'4 216
Weak Outside Linebackers
EJ Savannah 6'2 222
Chris Stevens 6'0 215
Matt Houston 6'1 215
Donald Butler 6'1 220
Mason Foster 6'1 225
Trenton Tuiasosopo 6'2 240
Cort Dennison 6'1 220
Bradly Roussel 5'11 210
Josh Gage 6'2 220