January 19, 2010

Will Redskins go 4-3, 3-4 or Hybrid?

The Daily Redskin 1.19.10

Whether you can articulate the difference between a Fairbanks-Bullough 2-gap 3-4 defense and a Phillips 1-gap 3-4 defense, are someone whose eyes glaze over at mention of such things, or, like most of us, fall somewhere in between … you probably know that one of the key stories we’ll be following during this offseason will be the style of defense the Redskins employ in 2010.

Message boards and sportstalk radio are bursting with debate over which scheme the Redskins' current defensive roster is best suited to run. And of course, over what the impact might be if the Redskins decide to go away from the 4-3 defense they have stood by since, well, since someone invented the thing back in the 1950’s, or decide to make the big switch and go 3-4.

I’m here to say I don’t think they’re going to do either.

I think they’re going Hybrid.

What the hell?

Hybrid Defenses Popping Up Across NFL

But that's just for the record.

For today's "quickie" I thought some of you--those who might not, you know, fully understand the subtleties of the 4i-technique (meaning most of us)--might find some of the links I've been coming across in researching a piece on where the new Redskins defensive brain trust (Allen, Shanahan, Haslett) is taking the team interesting.

I'm focusing less on straight X and O stuff (don't know about you, but when I left school for the last time after my undergrad days--Hokies!--I swore I would only ever go back if it meant serious bucks ... and to date, I remain both homework- and big-buck free) and going more for accessible, plain-language stuff written by and for people who love the game, can talk the game and understand how to explain it to a broad audience.

The links below are just a downpayment. I'll be adding to and refining the list periodically. I also invite any and all who have particularly well-researched or insightful links they think would be appropriate to add to let me know ... either put 'em in a comment below (please feel free to write up a quick synopsis if you like) or e-mail them to me directly at om.steven@gmail.com.

Hail and happy munching.


Dude, I've been a Redskins fan for a long time. Around here we've always considered that 3-4 crap kinda, well, like NFL Light or something. What's the fuss all of a sudden?

The Rage of the 3-4 Defense

The 3-4, Debunking the Myths

Okay, so my favorite team may be switching to a 3-4. Which 3-4?

The Schemes Matter

There are three primary strains of 3-4 defense in the N.F.L. The Steelers, the Patriots and the Browns use a scheme in which three huge defensive linemen control two gaps each. Their job is to occupy blockers and clog lanes so the linebackers can tackle.

The Cardinals and the Chiefs use a hybrid 3-4 designed by Clancy Pendergast, the former Cardinals defensive coordinator now in Kansas City. In this hybrid, one linebacker often slides down to defensive end, and the strong safety usually plays close to the line of scrimmage. The result is a 3-4 that looks more like a 4-3, 4-4, or 3-3-5, depending on the situation.

Tyson Jackson of L.S.U. will play in the Chiefs’ hybrid 3-4 defense. (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)The Chargers and the Cowboys run yet another variation on the 3-4. Their outside linebackers play with one hand in the dirt at the line of scrimmage and usually don’t drop into pass coverage. Their linemen usually attack one gap, not two like the linemen in New England. The Chargers-Cowboys scheme might better be called a 5-2, because the outside linebackers play like de facto defensive ends.

Okay, so ... complications?

Changing A Base Defense Not as Easy as 1, 2, 3-4

And what happens when teams actually try it?

Chiefs Likely To Utilize 3-4/4-3 Hybrid Defense

Do fans of other teams go as nuts as we do about this stuff?

Silly question.

There's talk in New York right now about the Giants switching up and going 3-4 or hybrid. Which of course impacts the Redskins in that another team NFCE team might be targetting the same kind of players we will be after.

Here's an interesting piece/discussion from Big Blue Interactive. You may want to check it out, if for no other reason than as a Redskins fan, you may be involved in very similar discussions vis a vis the Redskins current personnel and needs ...

The Hybrid 4-3/3-4 Defense

More to come. Lots more.

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