Someone posted pre-draft that they were sick and tired of hearing about the 4-3 vs. the 3-4. I made a promise to basically STFU about it if we got Raji over Crabtree. This post is in full compliance.
FYI--- Capers calls our two ILBs mack (weakside---Barnett will play) and Buck (strongside spot). There is also a Nickel in certain packages, which is primarily a cover guy, and Barnett will play that as well.
Some more numbers:
(Differing defenses we just might see this year, whether we know it or not)
I didnt put up the nickel or dime, most know those.LINK
The 4-4 defense is based around speed, athleticism and intelligence rather than relying too heavily on size and strength as many other defenses do. Versatility is a key as every player can have a variety of roles from one play to the next. It is an attacking defense stocked with multiple blitz packages that can be easily concealed and altered. The top priority of the 4-4 defense is stopping the run and with 8 men in the box (around the line of scrimmage) on every snap, it puts a defense in a very good position to do just that. In addition, with 8 men in the box, it is difficult for the offense to pin point exactly where the pressure will be coming from when the defense blitzes. One final significant advantage of the 4-4 defense is that it can easily adjust to the offense. The 4-4 can shift into a nickel or dime coverage simply and effectively.
The major drawback to the 4-4 defense is the potential to give up the big play, both through the air and on the ground. Shifty scat backs with breakaway speed are most successful against the 4-4. If they can cut their way through the layer of linebackers, they will likely only have 1, maybe 2 men to beat in the secondary and depending on their coverage assignments; they may not even be in position to make a tackle anyway. The other way the defense is exposed is on the deep pass. The cornerbacks are often left on an island (without help from the Safeties), either in man coverage or playing in a 3 deep zone. If a speedy receiver gets past his defender, there likely is nothing between him and the end zone. The hope, however, is that even if a receiver opens up deep, the quarterback wont have time to deliver the ball because of the pressure.
While size is definitely a plus for defensive tackles in the 4-4, its not as important as quickness and the ability to use leverage to manipulate the offensive linemen. It's imperative for the defensive tackles to hold their ground. They cannot allow themselves to get turned around and under no circumstances can they allow themselves to be base blocked, one on one. Again, size is great and certainly helps, but a smaller tackle can be just as effective if he is a good technician. In the base 4-4, the defensive tackles will generally line up in the B gap in a 3 technique (outside eye of the guard). Depending on the read, the defensive tackle will either be asked to penetrate the line of scrimmage, or hold his ground and attempt to take on both the guard and offensive tackle.
The defensive end's primary role in the 4-4 defense is to get to the quarterback as fast as possible. They need to be strong enough to fight their way past offensive tackles; but they also need to be athletic enough to act as linebackers because there are plenty of scenarios in the 4-4 defense that require the defensive ends to drop into coverage, just as an outside linebacker would do. The ends should do whatever they can to get to the quarterback and on running plays they should pursue down the line of scrimmage, but be careful not to over-commit as they need to be ready for a potential cutback.
There are two inside linebackers in the 4-4 scheme known as the Mike and Buck linebackers. While they both play inside, Buck will shade to the strong side of the offense, Mike shades to the weak side. It is important for these inside backers to be aggressive and have a nose for the ball. As in most defenses, the Mike backer acts as the quarterback of the defense and is often the defensive leader. The primary responsibility of both Mike and Buck is to stop the run. The Buck backer will generally be more active in pass coverage than the Mike. Because of this, the Buck backer needs to be athletic enough to drop and almost play like a strong safety.
As there are two inside linebackers, there are also two outside linebackers. These outside backers are known as Sam and Rover. The Sam linebacker typically sticks to the strong side. Sam does his fair share of blitzing, however he also needs to play the run and will usually be relied upon to cover the tight end or potentially a back out of the backfield. Rover will generally play on the weak side, however he can be moved to just about anywhere to better suit the defensive call or adjustment. The rover is probably the single most versatile position in the 4-4 defense. Depending on the call and the personnel in place, the Rovers job could be purely to get after the quarterback or to drop into coverage. In a blitzing situation, the Rover is the most likely player to get to the quarterback. The Rover position can be played by a variety of athletic types ranging from an outside linebacker, to a strong safety. The "Rover" linebacker is sometimes also known as the "Willie" position (Sam comes from strong side linebacker, and thus Willie signifies the weak side backer).
The cornerbacks are often on islands in man coverage or in a deep zone, and they need to possess exceptional speed and change of direction skills. They also need to be intelligent when diagnosing the play and when in zone coverage, must be able to play the ball. The corners will generally line up 3 to 5 yards off the ball, but will rarely jam because of the risk of a big play. If the corner jams and the receiver is able to get past him, it has a high probability of ending up a big play for the offense. Of course it helps to have corners that can assist in run support, however, their primary responsibility is to shut down any receiving threat they are assigned to. The safety in the 4-4 defense should be one of the teams better athletes. He needs to be fast enough to play in coverage and strong enough to help against the run. He needs to have a nose for the ball and be able to diagnose the play to put himself in a position to make a play. The safety will almost always be assigned to the deep middle of the field, however he can also be blitzed in various packages.
A 5-2 defense is a defense with 5 defensive linemen and 2 linebackers. The defensive linemen almost always line up to the weak side, with the backside lineman on the outside shoulder of the end man on the offensive LOS.
Because the extra defensive lineman makes this a strong defense against the run, it is more popular in leagues (or specific situations) that favor the running game. Thus, this defense is most often used in middle school and little league, and occasionally in different looks and variations in the NFL or college. The 5-2 used to be more popular in college football, when the running game was much more prevalent; for example, teams in the 1980s would often employ the 5-2 to combat the extremely run-oriented offenses of the time. From the mid-1950s until the early 1990s, the 5-2 was the base formation for most teams in the Big Eight Conference, due to the powerful rushing attacks of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Oklahoma Sooners, and later in the 1980s, the Colorado Buffaloes. Currently, the Arizona Cardinals use this defense regularly, in addition to their base 4-3.
The benefit of having a 5-2 is that it adds size to your defense by replacing a linebacker with a defensive lineman. This helps in short-yardage situations where you want to stall the line of scrimmage and not give up the inside run. The disadvantage is in pass coverage -- most 5-2 teams will rush all 5 defensive linemen leaving only 6 pass defenders. In some circumstances a 5-2 team will drop one of the linemen, typically an end, off into coverage. But this is primarily a situational defense, and not often used in situations where downfield pass coverage is a significant concern.
The 3-3-5 alignment, sometimes known as the "Mustang" or "30-Stack," typically relies on 3 down linemen, 3 linebackers, and 5 defensive backs: 1 free safety, 2 cornerbacks playing off the line, and 2 roving safeties that move around. The safeties take on 2nd receivers or tight ends and have to be able to come up and make tackles, usually outside the box. Generally, when running a 3-3-5 the user is trying to confuse the offense by "exchanging" different pressures in the A, B, and C gaps using the lineman, linebackers, rovers, and free safety while playing mostly zone or sometimes man coverage behind. Teams that run the 3-3-5 generally use it because they are a fast but sometimes smaller unit who wants to cause assignment issues for the opposing offense. Also, a 3-3-5 can be adjusted based on formation to a 4-3, 3-4, 4-4, Goal Line, etc. with the same starting players.
To effectively play the 3-3-5 the "Front 8," especially the lineman and linebackers must be physical, stout, and tough. The lineman must be able to control their assigned gaps, get an effective pass rush, and take out double teams to free up the linebackers to make plays. The 2 outside or "Stud" linebackers must be effective at pressuring, reading and reacting to the play, and play at a low pad level as they will be taking on lineman and fullbacks while the "Mike" must be intelligent in lining up the defense in a counter to the offense's formation as well as flowing to the ball and being able to shed blockers and make plays. The rovers or "Drillers" must be capable of pressuring, dropping back in coverage, being physical, taking on lineman, keeping contain, and coming up and making plays. The cornerbacks must be good in coverage and be physical tacklers. And finally, the free safety is the most versatile athlete on the field as on any given play he can drop in coverage, pressure the quarterback or play one of the "Mike" backers in the 3-4. In addition to this the free safety must be a physical tackler and hitter and generally your best playmaker and smartest athlete.
...and, in case you haven't got enough numbers yet,
The 5-2-4 formation is a variation of the 46 defense and the 3-3-5, often called "Bear Down". Takes away plays from the out side in. A linebacker and a safety come down on the outside sides. the tackles line up in the C gap, they both read the last man on their side of the line of scrimmage. Depending on that offensive players move (inside or outside) determines the defensive players role, if the outside man is getting kicked out he has outside containment and the DE comes down the line. If the outside man is let free then he comes down the line and the DE fights to get outside containment. It makes for two down the line of scrimmage players two outside contain guys and three inside players. Bear is also man coverage.
There will be no quiz, but at least when all those numbers get bandied about, perhaps you will be able to remember a little of it, or at least remember having read about it. I hope this was somewhat informative, but admit it is a bit much...probably should have done them individually or something. I'm number out, now. :icon_smile: