February 23, 2013

THE 4-3 UNDER SCHEME

WHILE it hasn’t been officially announced that we’re running a 4-3 Under on Defense, I figured I’d break the monotony by starting a discussion about what we may be rooting for, to those who don’t specifically know what it is, but don’t want to look like they’re the only one who doesn’t. (Relax. You wouldn’t be.)

Basically it looks kind of like a 5-2 or a 3-4 as there are 5 guys at the line even before adjustments are made. First, here’s how they’re different:

In a 5-2 you have 5 D-lineman, one of which is a NT. That carries an inherent disadvantage of having no one to run with a RB who flexes out, or simply goes in motion, leaving you to move a Safety down  to cover, which would leave a CB out on an island. This opens up the potential to give up big plays downfield. (This is why you never see a 5-2 alignment outside of the redzone.)

In a 3-4 you only have 3 D-linemen, which is fine if you get an early lead or play ball control offense. But if the other team gets the lead and/or features a power running game, your LB’s will wear down taking on those O-linemen. (That’s why there’s a formula for beating Pittsburgh for example. They’ve done the same thing on both sides of the ball since the 1970’s and only dumb teams haven’t figured it out.)

The 4-3 Under gives you the 4 D-linemen, and a LB who can run with the “flex”, plus you can even “shift” your LB’s to match the Offense if it attempts to unbalance a side. So it’s very much like a 4-3, right? Yes, except when Offenses try to play it straight up. That’s where this Defense starts to shine.

In a traditional 4-3 the DT’s play either over the A-gaps, or directly “over” the G’s. Sometimes you’ll even see an A-gap DT next to an “over” DT. Either way the DT’s are in that G-C-G box. In the Under, the Weakside DT moves outside of that box and plays the B-gap between the G and the T, not the A-gap between the C and the G. The Weaskside DE now has the OT mano-a-mano, with no help to come unless the Offense calls a “Back stay” (to block) or goes to a Max Protect.

Now the bit that makes the whole thing special is that the SLB is now primarily a passrusher. He isn’t a blitzer. He doesn’t shadow TE’s. He’s a pass rusher. Similar to what you’d see in a 3-4, but with more size and strength backing him up on the line. He could be called upon to cover, but won't often. So it's 5 rushers on most downs.

So this system would use the best parts of what we have and turn a weakness into a potential strength. By this I mean the fact that we have 2 good LB’s in Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans and everyone else is so-so. If Brandon Graham (or Phillip Hunt) can cover underneath well enough to get moved out to SLB, we’d already (pre-Draft or Free Agency) be set with our front seven.

I’ve seen the Raiders use it effectively. I’ve seen the 49ers win the 1994 Super Bowl with it (they called it the Elephant). We have way more talent up front than either one of those teams did when they used it. So if we’re running this, we should be good up front.

Now about that Secondary…

 

17 Comments:
  • I am excited about the idea of changing up the D and this make a lot more sense then doing a complete switch to the 3-4. in the 3-4 i just dont know who besides Cox and Landri idk who else would play the line effectively assuming that Graham and Cole would be moved to OLBs. Like you explained we have a lot of talent up front which this would seem to showcase. Id be very excited to see this on the field come week 1. And if we'd have our front 7 set pre draft or free agency i'd let us use both those periods to add some talent to revamp the secondary. One of the things I'd like to see is Vinny Curry getting a larger role with the team I think he's got a lot of talent and could play both DE or LB in the system you've explained.
  • If they slide Graham out to SLB, then Cole can take the LDE spot and Curry can move to the RDE spot, because you need power to hold that edge and power has never been Cole's game.

    Actually what I'd like to see would be Graham at SLB, Jenkins at the LDE spot, a huge LDT playing in the A-gap, Cox at RDT, and Curry at RDE. (Cole and Cedric Thornton would work in rotation.) Stacked behind that line would be Ryans and Kendricks.

    Not too shabby, right?
  • no its not to bad could grab a LDT in the draft but if they can't find the guy couldnt Jenkins play that spot and a guy like Landri play the LDE?
  • I think Landri's on his way out and maybe Cole as well. I don't see Cole starting if he stays.
  • I think cole is one of the more talented guys on that side of the ball, he's only really had one bad year last year but the entire defense was horrible. If he dropped some weight he couldn't he become a 3-4 pass rusher like DeMarcus Ware?
  • I don't know how wise that would be. In order to make Ware more effective, the Cowboys are going from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and moving Ware from OLB to DE. So trying to get Cole to emulate Ware would be going in what even the Cowboys saw as the wrong direction.
  • flip i agree that the 4-3 under would by far be the best scheme to run. however, all of our defensive coaches, or close to all have run the 3-4. i dont think we are too far from being able to play a 3-4. a line of cox, star/jesse williams/tj barnes, n jenkins/star isnt a bad line. cole/graham (as the majority rush LB), DRAFTED PLAYER, ryans, kendricks isnt a terrible LB core.
  • Jenkins is gone now so 4-3 under is making more and more sense
  • Just found this today. Is this the smoking gun?

    http://www.phillymag.com/eagles/2013/02/08/all-22-billy-davis-predators-and-the-4-3-under/
  • With the loss of two defensive tackles the Eagles have made DT a draft priority especially it they are going to stick with any type of 4-3 scheme. Most likely Landy will be gone as well. That position now seems draft priority number 1.
  • Not really. That's not to say they WON'T go DT early, but they don't HAVE TO to get quality.

    If they go to a 4-3 Under, the type of DT they'll need will be a space eater, not a penetrator. (Notice: Dixon is still here.) The Draft has 10-12 320+ pounders projected for round 3 and lower, so we can get a space eater, provided we don't expect him to be more than a Tony Siragusa (who went undrafted) type of player.
  • But even the space eaters like the Geathers kid who is a massive man may take a year to develop. I think they will at least need to address the position in the draft earlier than I anticipated them doing prior to today.
  • If they get a space eater later, they won't be looking for a guy to develop. I'm thinking he'd be a 2 down run-stuffer who'd also suck up blockers so that Cox could get favorable inside match-ups. All they need is a one dimensional bullrusher (ala Casey Hampton) for that.

    Actually I have my eye on Montori Hughes out of Tennessee-Martin who has a 4th-5th round tag on him. Dropped between 2 passrushers this guy could be MUCH more than the sum of his parts.
  • I like the kid you mentioned. I read he's climbing up the board and some are now considering him a possible 2 to 3rd round pick. Still if they are going to run a 4-3 variant they are going to need to add at least two more defensive tackles. We all know the big space eater guys wear down fast in games, because of their size.
  • That's why I said he'd be a 2 down player.

    It all depends on the number of downs they play, and how much work has to go into the guys around them. When the Ravens won the SB in 2000 they had Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams up front. Both were mammoth and neither was a spring chicken.
  • I still say a 3-4 is more likely based soley on the coaches. Most of them ran the 3-4 not the 4-3 under, so why have the entire staff learn a new system as well as the players. The switch may be easier for the players to the under, but the staff teaching them would still be learning it themselves.
  • I still wonder if Trent Cole fits a 3-4 scheme. I know he played some OLB in college, but so much if his pass rush abilities rely in leverage and getting lower than the tackle. Him rushing from a stand up position will negate that. I could see him being ran up the field all day like he was Mike Mamula. That means the Eagles are likely going to have to address that position via FA or the draft as well.
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