Breakdown of defensive alignments 3-4 vs 4-3

Discussion in 'Main Sports Forum' started by GatorJ, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. GatorJ

    GatorJ Hopeful
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Messages:
    13,895
    Oxbucks:
    $2,858
    Ratings:
    +10,878 / -98
    I’d like @ltraz to comment - but I thought it would help to have a discussion on the difference between assignments on the 3-4 vs the 4-3.

    Here are a couple snippets explaining the different techniques.

    https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/defensive-prototypes-5-technique

    As we continue our look through the Defensive Line prototypes we come to the 5-technique, which has been suffering from a confused identity in common parlance.

    When the draft rolls around we hear talk about the traditional 5-tech, the long, strong 3-4 defensive end who plays over the offensive tackle and dominates against the run. That player is actually a 4-tech in the most widely used naming system. The 5-tech actually lines up shaded to the outside of the offensive tackle.

    The 4i, 4 and 5-tech alignments have tended to be lumped together through the years and collectively labeled as 5-tech players, but in truth the 5-tech is actually the least used of the three, with 4 and 4i accounting for approximately seven times the number of snaps 5-techniques were played in 2014.


    5570F8CE-E837-4155-B2C8-195BCFDCFED9.png



    In reality, because the league plays nickel on around 60% of defensive snaps in today’s NFL, every 3-4 defensive end is going to spend more time as a 3-tech than he is playing 4i, 4 or 5 because of the nature of pass-rushing sub-packages.

    As we move further out from center the more we move from the realm of true interior players into that of hybrids, or players that ply their trade in defensive fronts that are more multiple than they are either 3-4 or 4-3. Each of the players to appear in this graph (click to enlarge) has a far higher spike at either 3-tech or outside of the 5-tech in the area usually occupied by 4-3 defensive ends and true edge-rushers. Some have higher spikes at both than they do at 5-tech, but these five players are the five with the highest percentage of their snaps at 5-tech in 2014.

    [​IMG]
    5-Tech, Click to Enlarge
    Perhaps the two most interesting lines to focus on are those of J.J. Watt and Michael Bennett, because they are extremely close matches. If you are looking for an analogue of what Watt has evolved into, at least by alignment he is far closer to Bennett than he is a true interior presence like a 3-tech defensive tackle or 3-4 end.

    Watt’s biggest spike, like Bennett’s, is well outside the tackle, and he has a relatively small spike inside at 3-tech, but both players do spend a significant amount of time lining up around the tackle across all of those various technique spots. They are inherently edge defenders that also move inside and adjust their alignment according to the defensive front on the play. Watt, it’s worth noting, also has a pretty significant spike at the 9-technique spot, the widest alignment possible and one usually reserved strictly for speed rushers and stand-up outside linebackers.

    Muhammad Wilkerson is another interesting player to appear on the list. His graph shows lower peaks than any of the other players because he is the most versatile in terms of his alignment. Wilkerson essentially has been moving all over the line and playing everywhere for the Jets. They seem happy to stall on his contract and plan for a future without him, but they might be wise to seriously consider how many players can realistically replace his versatility and ability to play all across the line.

    Corey Redding is the player with the biggest spike at 5, thanks largely to the Rex Ryan-inspired hybrid defense that the Indianapolis Colts run. Even Redding plays far more as a 3-tech defensive tackle than he does at 5-tech. Finally Ray McDonald, playing in San Francisco’s pretty traditional 3-4 defense, was one of the highest percentage players aligned at 5-tech in 2014.

    The 5-tech might not be exactly what you thought it was, but perhaps the most interesting point in all of this is that the entire position of 3-4 defensive end is dissolving the more the league is forced to defend the passing attack of offenses with nickel and dime defensive packages.
     
  2. GatorJ

    GatorJ Hopeful
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2014
    Messages:
    13,895
    Oxbucks:
    $2,858
    Ratings:
    +10,878 / -98
    https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/defensive-line-techniques-the-prototypes

    Here’s another on on prototypical technique players. To help you better gauge fits.



    0-Technique (3-4 NT) – Vince Wilfork

    The 0-technique plays head-up over the center, and is responsible for defending both A-gaps (between the guards and the center). His job is to control the center, often draw a double team from a guard, and still be able to prevent the run from going right up the gut. That’s why traditional 3-4 NTs are monsters. Wilfork is listed at 325lbs, but he looks a lot bigger than that, and it’s his sheer size and strength that allows him to anchor inside and control multiple, smaller, blockers at the point of attack.
    .
    With various one-gap 3-4 systems around these days, you find players that play the 0 technique position, but instead of playing both A gaps, they’ll shoot one and rely on linebackers behind them to plug the other. These players rely on speed and athleticism off the ball rather than size and bulk. The Cowboys under Wade Phillips were fond of this type of defense and Jay Ratliff was particularly adept at disrupting plays in the backfield from his NT spot.
    .
    Alternative prototypes: Aubrayo Franklin, Paul Soliai, Sione Pouha
    .
    .

    1-Technique (4-3 NT) – Pat Williams

    The 1-technique does much the same as the 0-technique, except he is shaded over the inside shoulder of one of the guards, and is rarely expected to control two gaps. He is, however, expected to command a double team from the center and guard, which frees up other linemen to be one on one with their blockers. Pat Williams has been the prototype for this position for years. Williams was an immovable force in the middle for the Vikings and required two players to try and shift him from the point of attack, leaving Kevin Williams single-blocked by a guard, and allowing linebackers to run free to the ball and make stops close to the line of scrimmage. A good 1-technique DT can dramatically improve an entire run defense, because he makes several players’ jobs much easier.
    .
    Alternative prototypes: Haloti Ngata, Antonio Dixon, Colin Cole
    .
    .

    3-Technique (4-3 Pass Rush Tackle) – Tommy Kelly

    Probably the most well known of the defensive techniques, the 3-technique lines up shaded to the guard’s outside shoulder, ready to shoot the B-gap on his side of the formation. Various line shifts and defensive schemes have been developed with the express purpose of getting the 3-technique the most beneficial situation possible, which is why guys like Warren Sapp, John Randle, Keith Millard and now Ndamukong Suh have been able to rack-up sack numbers. The 4-3 Under front, discussed in our article on Hybrid defenses, was designed to isolate the weak side guard 1-on-1 with the 3-technique (or under) tackle. This player’s job is to penetrate the line of scrimmage through his B-gap and disrupt plays in the backfield, whether pass or run. Unlike the first two tackle positions, the 3-technique relies far more on speed and agility than brute strength. Oakland’s Tommy Kelly is arguably the NFL’s prototype for the position. At 6’6 and 300lbs he is quick, nimble and has the kind of burst off the ball that can make it tough for a blocker to recover position.
    .
    Alternative prototypes: Kevin Williams, Shaun Rogers, Kyle Williams
    .
    .

    5-Technique (3-4 DE) – Ty Warren

    Much like the 0-technique, the traditional 5-technique is a two-gap player, lining up directly over the offensive tackle, he is responsible for the B and C gaps on his side of the formation. He has to be able to stack tall offensive tackles and shed blocks to make the stop in either of his gaps. Nose tackles rely largely on their mass to control blockers and gaps, but defensive ends from the 5-technique have to be able to handle offensive tackles, who have grown into man mountains over the past decades. This is why part of the scouting profile for these players isn’t just size, but ‘length’ (height and arm length combined).
    .
    Though he has seen his game time curtailed over the past few seasons through injury and the ever increasing use of sub-packages in nickel and dime situations, the prototype NFL 5-technique player remains former Patriot Ty Warren. Warren is quite possibly the NFL’s best run stuffer from the 3-4 DE spot and he has the prototypical length (6’5) and size (300+lbs) that teams look for.
    .
    You might ask why I’m not listing Justin Smith, a player we regard as clearly the best 3-4 end in football, in this spot. The answer is because Smith often doesn’t play the traditional 5-technique in the 49ers’ defense, and does much of his damage inside as a DT in their sub packages (in more of a 3-technique role), and often knifes into gaps while shaded slightly to either side of the tackle (in more a 4 or 6-technique). He is certainly well capable of playing the 5, and would be a perfectly reasonable example, but if coaches were drawing up a player for the traditional 2-gap 5-technique role, he would look like Ty Warren.
    .
    Alternative prototypes: Stephen Bowen, Kendall Langford, Shaun Smith
    .
    .

    7 & 6-Techniques (4-3 DLE) – Ray Edwards

    The 7-technique is often used by 4-3 teams on the left side of the defense as the run-stuffing, power end. He lines up in the gap between the RT and the TE (if there is one on that side of the formation) and is just as often playing the 6-technique depending on how the offense lines up. He’s usually responsible for setting the edge in the run game, but is also expected to be able to beat the RT for pressure in the passing game, or force his way inside the TE to do the same. Because they’re often forced to fight through a double team or at least a chip from the TE, and they face the ‘power’ right tackle, the 6 or 7-technique DE is usually a more powerful player than the speed rushing DRE, and almost always a better run defender.
    .
    Ray Edwards is the prototype for this type of player. Edwards is a strong run defender who has enough pass rushing skills to be able to beat his man with speed or power. There are better run defenders as 4-3 DEs in the NFL, but they just don’t happen to play the 6 or 7-technique much. Other players you could make a case for being the prototype here would be Trent Cole and Terrell Suggs. Both players play on the right side of their formations, but they often line up just outside of the tackle and rely on strength and leverage to be exceptional run defenders.
    .
    Alternative prototypes: Terrell Suggs, Trent Cole, Juqua Parker
    .
    .

    9-Technique (4-3 DRE) – Dwight Freeney

    The 9-technique is the speed rushing defensive end, and aside from a few defenses in the NFL, is often used more in obvious pass-rushing situations than as an every down alignment, such is the size of the gap left between the DRE and anybody else inside him. The 9-technique lines up well outside the offensive tackle, and outside even the tight end if there is one on that side of the formation. If there isn’t a tight end there, the alignment can look almost comical with the defensive end maintaining width to be able to attack the passer. Dwight Freeney is the NFL’s prototype player from this technique. Freeney has the speed to beat anybody around the edge and the low center of gravity to be able to dip his shoulder and turn the corner on much taller offensive tackles. The width that he aligns at often forces the tackle to panic and over commit to the edge rush, allowing Freeney to spin back inside to a gaping hole.
    .
    Alternative prototypes: Jason Babin, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Chris Clemons
     
  3. Swamp Donkey

    Swamp Donkey Wait til 2025
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    Messages:
    36,749
    Oxbucks:
    $15,532
    Ratings:
    +39,663 / -1,245
    Well... we have plenty of speed rush specialists, for whatever that is worth.
     

Share This Page

The Box

Help

You don't have the necessary permissions to use the chat.

  • About Us

    Our community sprung up when the Gatorsports message board was shut down in the summer of 2014. We pride ourselves on offering Gator-biased, yet critical discussion among people of all different backgrounds. We are working every day to make sure our community is the best Gator message board you will find.
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Buy us a Zima!

    The management works very hard to make sure the community is running the best software, best designs, and all the other bells and whistles. Care to buy us a non-alcoholic Zima? We'd really appreciate it! Just click the "Donate" tab at the top of the page.