Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, May 12: Bears combat emerging 3-4 defenses with Cutler

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Let's get right to the mail.

Q: My question concerns the Green Bay Packers' implementation of the 3-4 defense. Under Lovie Smith's tenure, the Chicago Bears' record vs. teams that run the 3-4 is 2-6. Here are the results:

2004: Houston Texans (coached by Dom Capers) 24 v. BEARS 5
2005: Cleveland Browns 20 v. BEARS 10; BEARS 17 v. San Francisco 49ers 9; Pittsburgh Steelers 21 v. BEARS 9
2006: BEARS 41 v. San Francisco 49ers 10; New England Patriots 17 v. BEARS 13
2007: San Diego Chargers 14 v. BEARS 3; Dallas Cowboys 34 v. BEARS 10
2008: no opponents

Dom Capers (an associate of 3-4 students Bill Cowher and Dick LeBeau) has taken three separate basement dwelling defensive units and flipped them into formidable forces in his first year on the job. The 3-4 defense can can prove to be exotic, dynamic and perplexing all within the same possession. What are your thoughts on Capers and his history? Any insights on how the Bears prepare themselves for the Packers new defense?

Jim A., Parts Unknown

A: To take your well made point a step further, the Bears are 0-6 vs. teams that implement the 3-4 defense that are not in San Francisco. I think the 49ers were running more of a hybrid 3-4 there at the time, however, because of some personnel shortages. At any rate, Capers' success has been well documented and Dan Pompei recently put together a nice story in the Tribune about it. There is a lot of work that goes into switching a defense and the key is acquiring the personnel. The Packers believe they are off to a good start after landing tackle B.J. Raji and linebacker Clay Matthews in the draft. I don't know what to say about that 2004 game with Houston, though. That meeting came at the end of a disastrous offensive season for the Bears. If you recall, Chad Hutchinson was the quarterback at the time. I think the one thing the Bears have going for themselves in this situation is new quarterback Jay Cutler. He comes from the AFC where the 3-4 has been more prevalent and he's played twice a season against one of the better 3-4 defenses in the league in San Diego.

He's got experience against the scheme and that's going to be useful because the Bears are destined to see the best the 3-4 has to offer this season. They will see it against Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and Arizona. So that's at least six games vs. the defense by our count. Cutler may have a better feel against the defense than Kyle Orton. If the Bears don't feel they have a lot of experience vs. it, they'll be singing a different tune after opening against the Packers and Steelers in the first two weeks. A little tidbit: teams using the 3-4 have won six of the last nine Super Bowls.

Q: Dez Clark is 32 this year and that is ancient for a tight end given the punishment they take so he must be near the end of his career. When the Bears drafted Kellen Davis last year in the fifth round, it looked like Jerry Angelo had found a very promising developmental and large athletic blocking tight end who could catch a pass. But Davis seemed to disappear last year from the formations and now we are seeing the Bears bring in the seventh-round draft choice Louis Lance, who Angelo called an athletic 300-pound tight end and who Lovie Smith later called a guard. Now, the Bears are bringing in 29-year-old blocking tight end Michael Gaines, recently released from the Lions, about whom you wrote last week, ``Gaines, who is 6-4, 277 pounds, also has some receiving skills.'' Have the Bears given up on Davis? It seems pretty early to do that. Or are they just getting ready for Clark to retire and adding experience at that position as they continue to develop Davis and maybe Lance if he makes the team? Clearly, the Bears need better red zone blocking for their run game looking at their scoring problems last year. What do you think is happening?

David H., Chicago

A: We've got a lot at play here so let's see if we can get to it piece by piece.

1. This isn't the only e-mail I've gotten that seems to suggest the end is near for Clark. I'm not sure why. Sure, he's on the back side of his career but what the Bears have gotten from him has been nothing but consistent performance. Clark has been remarkably durable at one of the most-injury riddled positions in the league. He has not missed a game in four seasons and has sat out just two games in six years with the Bears. I'd call him, unquestionably, one of the best free-agent signings in the Angelo era. Clark turned 32 last month and he's signed through 2010. He's been a leader in the locker room and has certainly helped bring Greg Olsen a long to this point. Clark has had between 41 and 45 receptions each of the last three seasons even as Olsen has begun to take off. Clark is a far better blocker than Olsen. He's been a strong member of the offense for some time and I can't really say he slowed down last season even if his yards per catch dipped. Let's not be too quick to say his days of being a valuable contributor are over or just around the corner.

2. I don't think Davis really disappeared from the formations last season because I don't think he ever really appeared, even at the beginning. Most of his 40 snaps came in jumbo packages with three tight ends.

3. Let's get this straight--I don't see any way Louis plays tight end. The Bears might have announced he was a tight end on draft day in order to try to sign some linemen as undrafted free agents. It appeared at least that they went the entire draft without getting a lineman. But Louis wears No. 60 so I don't see him lining up in the backfield either. The last time this much was made of a seventh-round pick, I believe it was Kirk Barton. Louis' best shot to last longer than Barton might be sticking around on the practice squad as the numbers make it hard to find a spot on the 53-man roster for him as we sit here in mid-May, more than two months from the start of training camp.

4. Bringing in Gaines doesn't necessarily signal the end of the line for Davis. Remember, it's no guarantee Gaines makes the team. He can earn up to $1.25 million in his one-year deal, but he has to make the roster and then hit some incentives to get that pay day. But Gaines is certainly competition. Here's the deal with Davis--the quickest way for him to get on the field last season as a rookie was to excel as an in-line blocker. He didn't do that. He's a big guy with terrific athletic ability. Could he improve in his second season? Sure. He's got draft pick pedigree and as it's been proven around here, draft picks get extra time to develop. Davis was heavily involved on special teams and essentially took the role of Israel Idonije. While Davis was largely a nonfactor on the coverage units, one place Idonije stood out, he was better as a blocker on returns. If he can improve as a blocking tight end, that will help his future. Yes, the Bears have to begin considering a future without Clark and Davis could be part of that. They'd also be well served to look longer at Fontel Mines, a guy who has developed on the practice squad pretty well.

5. Ultimately, though, when the post-Clark era arrives, we'd suggest the Bears would be much better off working diligently to develop more wide receivers. Two pass-catching tight ends are nice, but they don't provide the big-play threat a wideout does. Olsen will do well for years to come. I'd be far less concerned with the tight end situation and much more concerned what happens at receiver.

6. As far as the red zone blocking, the Bears must get better in short yardage. It will be interesting to see if they consider Kevin Jones some in that area. Matt Forte is an upright runner and that makes it tougher to find the small holes in a tight space. That could be one way to reduce Forte's workload a little bit.

Q: What is there to say about Mark Bradley in hindsight? After the Bears released him, Kansas City acquired him and actually got some decent production and big plays out of him as their second starting wide receiver. Throughout the course of four years he failed to live up to the expectation of a second-round pick, but just in context of last season, did the Bears give up too early on him?

Arlen M., Madison, Wis.

A: I don't think so. Bradley was constantly dealing with knee issues and that's believed to be the case in Kansas City these days as well. He was an inconsistent route runner for the Bears and never really seemed to lock in to a role that you felt was going to last for more than a few weeks. The 2009 draft was a good thing for him, though. Needing help at the position but handcuffed after dealing a second-round pick to New England for quarterback Matt Cassel, the Chiefs didn't get to wide receivers until the end of the draft when they selected McNeese State's Quinten Lawrence in the sixth round and Miami of Ohio's Jake O'Connell in the seventh round. Right now, Bradley and Dwayne Bowe are penciled in as starters for the Chiefs with another ex-Bear in the mix, Bobby Engram. It's probably a safe bet that new Kansas City coach Todd Haley, the ex-Bears wide receivers coach, would like nothing better than to develop a star out of a former Bears player. But keep in mind that the Chiefs grabbed Bradley last season when Haley was still in Arizona, so he has nothing invested in the player. If Bradley can remain healthy, he could be productive for the Chiefs but the Bears reached the conclusion that he was always going to be a guy who has nagged by one injury or another. Looks like the Chiefs and Bears are trying the same thing. Both clubs are hoping the quarterback makes the wide receivers better.

Q: Why not try out Zack Bowman at free safety? With the cornerback depth the Bears have and his ability to ball hawk (remember the Minnesota game last year) and his coverage abilities, why not?

Jesse M., Parts Unknown

A: The Bears mentioned that Bowman could be in the mix at the position and he was moved there for the March minicamp because of the numbers at the position. Bowman is a rangy guy at 6-1, 193 pounds, and could certainly offer decent range. Whether or not he has the instincts to play the position, I cannot say. While I remember a couple nice plays in a wild and wide open game against the Vikings, I also recall that was his only game of the season. Bowman suffered a ruptured biceps that landed him on injured reserve. He came out as a fifth-round pick because he was a medical red flag for a lot of teams. What the Bears are trying to do is find some sturdy help at safety, someone who isn't going to be breaking down. I don't know if Bowman is that guy and I also don't know if he can handle the responsibilities that come with the position in the run game. It will be interesting to see if he's still in the mix at the position. I'm not ruling him out but I think if the Bears are going to convert a cornerback it's more likely that Corey Graham is the man.

Thanks for all of the participation and thanks as always for reading. We're going to give the fine people at our mail center a few days off. We'll return with a Q&A on Friday. Get your questions in and we'll come with Four Down Territory again on that day.

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Brad- I don't really buy into the fact that the Bears gave up on Bradley because of his "nagging" injuries. Even when he was able to play they didn't call on him to do much; this part of the equation is hardly mentioned at all. Why not use him when he was healthy? It makes zero sense, and it's not like the Bears have had a good history with drafting WRs and developing them.

The emerging 3-4 defenses seem to be very good when it comes to against the run situations and in rushing the passer with the linebacker in particular.

As for whether the 3-4 is significantly better than the 4-3 to me it comes down to the talent level of the players and not so much to the scheme.

I copied the last 9 SuperBowls below and the only really stellar defensive days by any team was the Baltimore D (record D that year) when they gave up 7 points to New York (mediocre offense), Pittsburgh when they gave up 10 to Seattle (suspect D that year backfield weak) and the Giants when they gave up 14 to New England against (great offense). The rest of the games it appears to me the offense seemed to carry the day not the Defense. The end result 6 out of 9 games were offensive games, teams with great offenses. The three New England wins were teams with great offenses, Tampa bay won it on offense and Inidanapolis won it on offense (Bears D and offense tanked) and St, Louis had a good D but was known for its offense with Tennessee known for a weak offense.

My point is that it is quite close when comparing schemes 3-4 or 4-3 and really if you look at the talent in the D you can win the SuperBowl with either scheme.

With Cutler having more experience facing this scheme I think the Bears stand a good chance to do well against it in the future.

Brad could you help us with obtaining a more telling statistic that would indicate what is the record of all teams when playing against a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense for the last 10 years?

Super Bowl Scores

Game Date Result
XLII Feb. 3, 2008 New York 17, New England 14
XLI Feb. 4, 2007 Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17
XL Feb. 5, 2006 Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10
XXXIX Feb. 6, 2005 New England 24, Philadelphia 21
XXXVIII Feb. 1, 2004 New England 32, Carolina 29
XXXVII Jan. 26, 2003 Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21
XXXVI Feb. 3, 2002 New England 20, St. Louis 17
XXXV Jan. 28, 2001 Baltimore 34, N.Y. Giants 7
XXXIV Jan. 30, 2000 St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16

Go Bears just dominate on each side of the ball and you win anyway regardless of scheme.

I agree with Brad, Chicago needs to work on developing more wide receivers vs tight ends, and it looks like they are. I think in the long run Chicago has sat themselves up to be pretty good as far as their tight ends go. With players like Greg Olsen, newly signed Michael Gaines, and Kellen Davis, who could still develop into a pretty good tight end for the Bears. Also, Clark probably has a few more solid seasons left in the tank.

Wide receiver is where the Bears need to concentrate, and they are. Chicago spent three draft picks on the position in the draft. Starting in the third with Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias, in the 5th with Abilene Christian's Johnny Knox, and in the 7th round Derek Kinder of Pitt. Kinder could be a surprise, Kinder was a Biletnikoff semifinalist before he tore his ACL in 07. So much like current Bear defensive end Adewale Ogunleye who fell out of the draft because of an injury back in 2000, Kinder could end up being a pretty good player that slipped because of injuriy concerns, we'll see. Devin Hester was coming on nicely toward the end of last season, so he might be primed for a breakout season in 2009, it should be interesting to see it all unfold GO BEARS!!

I forgot to mention on my above blog that Adewale Ogunleye tore his ACL in his knee in college just like Derek Kinder did in 2007. I made the comparison because both Ogunleye and Kinder were promising players at their positions who fell out of favor draft wise with NFL teams because of injuries, both had the torn ACL's to heal up from. Unfortunately for Ogunleye, he tore his during his senior season, it then took him a couple seasons to come on for Miami, it usually takes players with torn ACL's two seasons to come back. The good thing about Kinder is he is already two years removed from his torn ACL. It worked out pretty good for Ogunleye, hopefully it will for Kinder as well, he could end up being a steal much like Ogunleye GO BEARS!!

There is nothing funny about those 3-4 stats. Hopefully Turner can find a bag of tricks to open on the offense this year. Cutler will surely make it easier. This is just another example of the Cutler deal looking better as time goes on. The better the defense, the more an athletic QB who can make ALL the throws is worth.

Do you think that some of the Bear's other moves were made with the 3-4 in mind? Offensive linemen are more often called on to block quicker players in space in the 3-4. Orlando Pace and Chris Williams represent a quantum leap at tackle in the ability to do that. Can you imagine St. Clair trying to block a guy like Shawn Merriman on the edge?

It seems playing against the 3-4 in general would call for an athletic offensive line. The Bears have really improved in that area during this off-season.

A day or so ago I left a blog about Kellen Davis getting caught in a numbers crunch at O-line, D-line, D-secondary, and running back. I should have included wide receiver.

The Bears appear to be achieving their goal of creating competition on the roster. The flip side is that they are setting themselves up for some tough decisions in this pre-season.


How is it that you know that "Chris Williams represent[s] a quantum leap at tackle"? He hasn't played a single game. He could be a complete bust.

With the rules of the NFL making easier to pass as time goes on, the 3-4 will prove to be significantly superior to the 4-3, which is more suited to stopping the run. But the 3-4 has another advantage: on passing plays, you don't know which, if any, linebacker is going to blitz. I've been touting this defense for years and it finally seems to have bloomed in that more teams are playing it. Of course, it requires different personnel than the 4-3, mainly two big and powerful nose tackles taking turns who at the very least require two blockers on every play. But with the right personnel, I'll take the 3-4 any day over the 4-3 in today's football.


News flash: Williams did play for the Bears last year -- not much. But "not much" is a heck of a lot more than "he hasn't played a single game."

You overstated your case. Williams is unproven and subject in 2009 to the Missouri standard: show me.

""How is it that you know that "Chris Williams represent[s] a quantum leap at tackle"? He hasn't played a single game. He could be a complete bust.""

Another thing to consider is that last season we had St.Claire, Tait and Fred Miller as our OT's with Terrance Metcalf as an emergency backup for the first half of the season until Chris Williams was able to suit up.

This year it is Pace, Willams and Shaffer with Omiyale serving as the emergency OT backup. That is alot better then last season no matter how you slice !!

Williams could bust out but I doubt it. He was a highly touted OT prospect in college. Most scouts and experts had Williams rated as a top-5 O-lineman coming into the draft and as a sure fire day-1 draft prospect with potential to start as a rookie. He fell out of favor with a handful of teams because of concerns involving his back. It did end up costing him most of his rookie season but it could be a blessing in disguise for Chris.

He was able to get a cronic issue fixed. His rehab made him stronger physicaly which was the only real knock on him at the combine before his back issue came to light. He was able to get acclimated to the NFL game at slower pace instead of being forced onto the field right away.

I think a fully healthy Chris Williams with his rookie season out of the way and that mental block involving a serious injury tested and put behind him should allow him to have a breakout type season. If not we have a proven Veteran in Kevin Shaffer waiting in the wings as the swing tackle if neccessary.

Go Bears !!

Brad, I agree that the practice squad might be the best way for rookie guard Lance Louis to stick, but I do think he does have an outside chance of making the 53-man roster.

Numbers wise, if Chicago goes with 9 offensive linemen [which I think they should] like they did last season, there will be a spot for Louis. You have to figure Pace will be the left tackle, with Chris Williams at right tackle, and Kevin Shaffer will be the swing. Then there's Frank Omiyale who the team's web site still list as a tackle, even after they changed his number from 76-68. He should be in the mix at left guard, my question is, why is Omiyale still listed as a T, why not T/G, or better yet G/T? Jerry Angelo said he wants tackles that can play guard, Omiyale should fit the profile, it should be interesting to see where he ultimately ends up. So you got Pace, Williams, Shaffer, and Frank Omiyale, with Omiyale having the ability to play either tackle or guard. At center you know Kreutz is a lock. Then at guard theres Josh Beekman on the left side, with Roberto Garza on the right side, and Dan Buenning as a reserve. Lance Louis could make the 53-man roster as the 9th lineman.

Louis started at tackle last season in college, then in rookie mini camp the Bears lined him up at LT and LG, so obviously he fits Angelo's bill as a tackle that can play guard. Not saying he's a tackle, he's definitely a guard, but could play tackle in emergency situations. I think if he impresses during camp and the pre-season, the Bears will keep him on the 53 man roster. You have to figure a 6-3 303lb lineman that runs a 4.8 40, did 30 reps on the bench press, and has a 30-inch vertical jump is probably known by a few other teams out there. So if he impresses in camp and the pre season, putting him on the practice squad might not be a good idea, some other team will definitely swipe him. With his size and atleticism, if he shows anything during camp, I'd sign him as the 9th lineman, this guy could be something special in the future GO BEARS!!

Wrigley, the 4-3 that the Bears run is predicated on stopping the pass. The key is the undersized quicker players used in the scheme. The 3-4 however, nowadays at least uses parts of the 4-6 and utilises size in the same way the 3-4 does speed employing 3 larger linemen to allow the (larger) LBs to provide much of the pass rush and run support.

By the way......Orton sucks!!!! I'm willing to wager any of you fair-weather Orton loving fans that he will not be the Broncos starting QB by the end of this season!!! Put some money where your mouths are!!! Orton SUCKS!!!!

Biggsy, have you heard anything regarding a Desmond Clark/Braylon Edwards trade?

OK, I'll type real slow this time.

What I said was that the COMBINATION of Pace and Williams was a quantum leap over Tait and St. Clair in the specific ability to block quicker players IN SPACE. I was making the point that ability might be more important against a 3-4 than in a 4-3. In a 3-4 the defense gives up a d-line position and puts in a more mobile player at linebacker. The O-line therefore has to block one more linebacker instead of a lineman.

I did NOT say that Williams, individually, was a quantum leap over Tait overall. I think Tait was (and probably still is) a good player who simply decided to hang it up while he could still walk. If Williams plays the complete package at right tackle this year as well as Tait did, the Bears will probably be more than satisfied.

I was only talking about the ability to PLAY IN SPACE. While the jury is still out on Williams, the one thing we DO know is that he is very quick and agile for an offensive tackle. He isn't much doubt that he will be able to PLAY IN SPACE. The rest of his play remains to be seen.

Against quicker players, Pace is a future HOFer and St. Clair had to work very hard to be as effective IN SPACE as a traffic cone. That change alone is a quantum leap.

4-3 vs the 3-4

A few facts based on NFL points allowed per games stats.


1 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 13.9 223 223 13.9 7 12 0 0 2 0 0 0 21 24 2 0
2 Tennessee Titans 16 14.6 234 234 14.6 12 12 0 0 0 1 0 0 24 20 0 0
3 Baltimore Ravens 16 15.2 244 244 15.2 4 17 0 2 1 2 0 0 25 21 0 0
4 Philadelphia Eagles 16 18.1 289 289 18.1 7 19 0 1 2 0 2 0 29 24 1 0
5 New York Giants 16 18.4 294 294 18.4 14 17 0 0 2 0 1 0 31 19 0 1
6 Washington Redskins 16 18.5 296 296 18.5 12 16 2 0 0 2 0 0 30 24 0 1
7 Indianapolis Colts 16 18.6 298 298 18.6 18 6 0 0 3 1 0 0 25 33 1 2
8 New England Patriots 16 19.3 309 309 19.3 8 27 0 2 0 0 0 0 34 17 0 1
9 Miami Dolphins 16 19.8 317 317 19.8 11 18 2 0 2 0 0 0 28 29 1 1
10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 20.2 323 323 20.2 8 23 0 0 2 1 0 0 33 28 0 1
11 Atlanta Falcons 16 20.3 325 325 20.3 17 20 0 0 0 1 0 0 35 20 0 1
12 Carolina Panthers 16 20.6 329 329 20.6 14 19 1 0 0 1 0 2 31 24 0 2
13 Minnesota Vikings 16 20.8 333 333 20.8 10 15 4 0 2 3 1 1 35 26 1 1
14 Buffalo Bills 16 21.4 342 342 21.4 18 14 0 0 1 1 0 0 34 34 1 0
15 San Diego Chargers 16 21.7 347 347 21.7 11 25 0 1 1 1 0 0 31 24 3 2
16 Chicago Bears 16 21.9 350 350 21.9 16 21 0 0 1 1 0 0 38 26 0 0
16 Cleveland Browns 16 21.9 350 350 21.9 16 19 0 1 5 1 0 0 41 19 0 0
18 New York Jets 16 22.2 356 356 22.2 10 23 0 0 4 3 0 0 37 25 0 2
19 Cincinnati Bengals 16 22.8 364 364 22.8 15 23 1 0 2 1 0 1 40 22 0 0
20 Dallas Cowboys 16 22.8 365 365 22.8 11 19 0 1 1 3 0 1 33 38 1 0
21 Jacksonville Jaguars 16 22.9 367 367 22.9 14 25 0 0 1 1 0 0 40 27 0 0
22 Green Bay Packers 16 23.8 380 380 23.8 20 22 0 0 0 1 0 0 39 25 3 1
23 San Francisco 49ers 16 23.8 381 381 23.8 14 22 0 0 2 1 0 0 38 35 2 0
24 Oakland Raiders 16 24.2 388 388 24.2 23 20 0 1 0 1 0 0 43 23 1 2
25 Seattle Seahawks 16 24.5 392 392 24.5 13 25 1 0 1 0 0 0 39 37 0 1
26 New Orleans Saints 16 24.6 393 393 24.6 14 21 0 1 2 2 1 0 37 34 1 3
27 Houston Texans 16 24.6 394 394 24.6 18 24 1 0 1 1 0 0 43 25 1 2
28 Arizona Cardinals 16 26.6 426 426 26.6 13 36 1 1 1 0 0 0 49 21 0 1
29 Kansas City Chiefs 16 27.5 440 440 27.5 25 21 0 1 2 0 0 0 45 33 0 1
30 Denver Broncos 16 28 448 448 28.0 26 20 1 1 2 0 0 0 48 32 1 1
31 St. Louis Rams 16 29.1 465 465 29.1 26 20 0 0 4 3 0 0 52 31 0 1
32 Detroit Lions 16 32.3 517 517 32.3 31 25 2 0 5 0 0 0 62 25 1 0

The 4-3 had 11 out of the top 17 defenses in 2008 and the 3-4 had 6 out of 17. The Bears and Cleveland tied for 16th.

Anyone please correct me if I am incorrect I count 12 teams in the league that used the 3-4 last year. If that is the case then 50% 6 out of 12 teams that run the 3-4 defenses were in the top 17 and the 4-3 had 11 out of 20 teams in the top 17 which is 55% of the 4-3 teams are in the top 17 teams.

Pretty even stats and my thinking as the 3-4 becomes more prevalent in the NFL the offenses will start to scheme it more effectively.

The experts say the way to beat the 3-4 is to double team the nose tackles and run between the tackles, the Bears with bigger guards seem to be better prepared to do this in the upcoming season because their guards are bigger and stronger than the past. The other way to beat this scheme is to effectively control the linebacker pass rush, if this is done then the passing games opens up significantly because less coverage in the 5-15 yards area from the line of scrimmage.

With faster tackles that move in space and more two tight end packages it appears that the Bears will totally dominate the 3-4 this year and that Cutler will cut it up in pieces. Cutler is the " The Cutter" he will cutting up a lot of defenses this year whether 3-4 or 4-3.

Go BEARS and I can't wait to see the Bears play the new 3-4 defense of the Slackers.

dahli way too many stats but insightful. I just wish the Bears would wise up and put Garza on the bench and take a serious look at Buenning Garza has been a human doormat and if they want to improve short yardage get Garza out and it gets better.

By Alec on May 14, 2009 8:31 AM
"Wrigley, the 4-3 that the Bears run is predicated on stopping the pass. The key is the undersized quicker players used in the scheme."

Actually I don't think size matters much as Brian Urlacher has proved, he is a huge MLB for a 4-3 player and is a giant in the Tampa 2. Speed and the the ability to press the QB with the front four. The real problem with the 4-3 seems to be a lack of players, the 3-4 can find hybrids and giant NT's all day. but finding true
4-3 ends and Under Tackles is becoming harder and harder too do. If a teams scheme, coaching and talent level are good you will have a good defense 3-4 or 4-3, if it's bad then you will have a bad defense. Defensive ends have been getting smaller and DT's have been getting bigger and slower. The 4-3 tends to pigeon toe it's players, where as the 3-4 can grab 4-3 style players or hybrids and have them be equally effective.

The 3-4 beats the 4-3 in it's ability to select from a deeper pool of talent. There is also the fact that a 3-4 can be more cost effective allowing a team to allocate more money away from the D'line and invest it in LB's which are cheaper than End's. The NT is a very cost effective position in the 3-4 and all you really need to do is be good against the run. Look how much Haynesworth cost as compared to Hampton. Outside of Seymore I cannot think of a very expensive DE in the 3-4. Now you have more money for your other positions.

Many experts have predited the demise of the 4-3 because of what is going on in college and the types of players that are comming out of college. This years draft is a perfect example of that. While the NFL is the monkey see, monkey do league their is a reason lots of teams are switching. A good 4-3 is a better defense as proven by history but it often costs more or at least certain positions due, and it is a lot harder to build. It's like buying a Ferrari when a Corvett will do the same job. The Ferrari is going to take a lot more work to mantain than the Vet. The Bears were among the most expensive defenses in the league last year. Baltimore was number 1 I think but they got a lot more bang for their buck than we did.

As DE's get smaller and O'lines get bigger and more athletic your looking at a real mismatch problem, how many times do you need to see Alex Brown get crushed by Bryant McKinnie, and he is better than average against the run? No offense to Alex thats just what happens when they match up. It's one of the reasons the Bears are putting 8 in the box to stop the run, big lines are killing them. The 3-4 eleviates this problem by putting 3 very big men up front to occupy the line and spreading their pass rushers wide in what is essentially a five man front, this often forces the TE to stay home and block. The two MLB's and NT make it almost impossible to run up the middle.

It's not as flashy as a good 4-3 but it's more flexible, it's generally cheaper but not always, it's faster, easier to build and mantain, and tougher to scheme against because of it's flexablity, it also disguised blitzes and coverages better.

Also remember there different types of 4-3 defenses, one and two gap schemes and the vaunted Tampa 2. Here is a good question how many teams in the NFL who ran the Tampa 2 where in the top 10 in Total defense and points allowed. Only the Colts and Bucs made it in points allowed and none made it in total defense. The Bucs have sense switched schemes.

It's interesting to note that several teams have dropped the Tampa 2 defense this year, my only guess to why that happened is because it is just so difficult to find the right types of players for it. I think only two or three teams still use it, thats down from the 8 teams that ran it in 2006.


Put you money where your mouth always seems to be. Why don't you dress up in a TUTU and dance out front of Soldier Field if Orton at least performs, and plays decent. Orton has always been a good guy, A Great teammate, and a pretty classy individual. He has been a starter in the NFL.

What are you? Nothing but a negative individual, who criticizes others because they are never up to YOUR standards.

You need to """move""" out of your parents basement already ! !


Good to hear from you as Anonymous, I thought that was you on some of the recent posts I have read.

Of course you made some very good points in regards the 3-4 and the 4-3. the bottom line is the talent level and coaching that determines the quality of a Defense.

The way to beat the 3-4 is with a double team on the nose tackle and running inside the tackles and in having an offensive line that can protect and move effectively against the disguised pass rush by usually the linebackers.

As more teams go to the 3-4, the 4-3 may be the more difficult to defend because teams will get so much practice against the 3-4 and the 4-3 will become the more exotic defense.

As for the Tampa 4-3 I have seen it be very effective with Tampa and Indianapolis at various times, am I sold on it, not necessarily.

Creighton, you may be right about the cost of running a 3-4 as less expensive for a team than the 4-3. Good fodder for the upcoming season.. I am really looking forward to seeing how teams will learn to handle the 3-4 as teams and offenses evolve in the future NFL.

"Wrigley, the 4-3 that the Bears run is predicated on stopping the pass. The key is the undersized quicker players used in the scheme."

That's the problem with Lovie Smith's defense: the linemen are so small they can't stop the run. To top it off, they're not getting any pass rush out of their line, which is death for that type of defense (any defense needs a good pass rush to be effective against the pass, but the Tampa 2 needs to get it strictly out of the line).

Good comments about the 3-4 v. the 4-3, I'm glad I was able to spark a good discussion. I agree with most of what has been said, but I still think the 3-4 is superior for the reasons I stated and because, as Anonymous said, it's more flexible.

Dahlillama, while I respect your posts, sometimes you go overboard with the stats. I can tell you know the game, but take a clue from the coaches: people who know the game don't depend on stats and certainly don't overdo them. Your second post on this thread was a perfect example. The stats you cited don't tell you anything, because a major factor in the quality of the defense is the talent and coaching, as everyone including you agreed. What if the talent level and coaching of most of the 3-4 teams was lower than that of the 4-3 teams?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on May 12, 2009 12:30 PM.

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