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Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

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Old 07-25-2009, 01:14 PM   #1
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Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

Youve got 3-4 undr/over, 3-4 stack, 3-4 solid, and 3-4 even. Does anyone know the differences between each and what are the strengths and weaknesses of each defensive scheme

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Old 07-25-2009, 02:18 PM   #2
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

I really like playing with the 3-4 defense. The big thing with the 3-4 defense at least in real life is it is a blitzing defense usually based on faster quicker blitzing/coverage LB's and bigger stronger DT & DE to assist in run stopping. The idea is you will have at least a 4 man rush most plays except unlike a 4-3 the 4th rusher can be any of your lb's.

In the game at least in years past I liked it because the pass rush was so ineffective I figured why waste another dl rusher when I could just drop eight into coverage. This year the pass rush is a little more effective so I have been playing the 3-4 as intended and blitzing at least one if not more most of the game.

3-4 over

In real life an over defense has the lb's shifted to the strong (te) side with the dl shifted to the weak. It will look like a 4-3 with the Sam olb closer to the LOS head up or outside of a TE. The over defense tries to balance up with the offense and usually provides for a strong side blitz or pass rush. The reason I say in real life because in the game the over usually aligns the lolb (the offenses right) on the los and the under aligns the rolb (offenses left) on the los.

3-4 under

The under defense usually shifts the lb's to the weak side (away from te) of a formation and shifts the d-line to the strong side. This defense is usually better for weak side blitzes and also aligns a de over a te, which can make for a tough block by the te. Again this is not represented in the game so I will usually do a quick flip of the play when I am calling defenses. So if I want to try to get a weak side rush and I call 3-4 under but the offense comes out with the te on the offenses left I will quickly flip the play so that I am aligns in the 3-4 under like I wanted. I will say the offense snaps the ball super quick this year so you need to be on top of it if you are going to switch because you can get caught mid switch.


3-4 stack

Stack defenses will stack the lb's directly behind the d-line providing some good inside blitz possibilities because the d-lineman can go one way and the lb's the other making for some difficult blocking for the o-line. I am not sure how this is represented in the game.

3-4 solid

Probably my favorite alignment. This defense squeezes all of the d lineman inside covering the G/C/G with the two inside lb's moved out over the tackles. The idea is the three d-lineman handle the inside run allowing the lb's to flow to either side for the run. This is a balance d so blitzes can come from both sides.

3-4 even

Looks very close to a 4-3 defense. The olb is up on the los and usually becomes a pass rusher because of his position. Probably my least favorite because if I wanted to play a 4-3 I would.

Sorry for the long post hope it helps.
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Old 07-25-2009, 02:41 PM   #3
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

CoachChris, great, great post brother! Can honestly say I learned a lot from this short defensive session and have bookmarked this thread.

Thanks again man!
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Old 07-25-2009, 02:57 PM   #4
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

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Originally Posted by 65South
CoachChris, great, great post brother! Can honestly say I learned a lot from this short defensive session and have bookmarked this thread.

Thanks again man!

Thanks, glad it helped. I can definitely get long-winded when it comes to talking football so I am glad it wasn’t too long of a post.
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Old 07-25-2009, 03:06 PM   #5
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

The only problem is, if you are playing dynasty and recruiting, there are not any big enough Defensive Ends too recruit. A 3-4 Defensive End is as big as Defensive Tackles in the 4-3. Also, Defensive Ends in the 4-3 are the size of outside Linebackers, in most cases. Therefore, if you were trying to build a 3-4 defense in dynasty it would be like having six Linebackers on the field at any given time.
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Old 07-25-2009, 03:26 PM   #6
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

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Originally Posted by kzdwfy
Youve got 3-4 undr/over, 3-4 stack, 3-4 solid, and 3-4 even. Does anyone know the differences between each and what are the strengths and weaknesses of each defensive scheme
chris could not have said it any better.

one of my fav things about the 3-4 its as if you have 4 DE on the field. both olbs and the DEs. It also does a good job against the option. having ur NT line up over the C, where ther NT can usually take the FB out of the equation. (IE Uva vs GT 08).
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Old 07-25-2009, 03:35 PM   #7
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

You make a good point. One of the things I have done in the past is move DT's to the DE position because like you said the DE's in a 3-4 scheme are really DT's.

Now I just started my Air Force dynasty last night and they play with a 3-4 defense so I have not had a chance to really delve into the recruiting yet but I know this has been an issue in the past.

One thing to note is a team like Air Force plays the 3-4 for different reasons then some other teams. The Academy knows they are not going to have any really big guys to play those three d-line positions because of the height/weight limitation. However, they are sure of one thing they will have year in and year out some tough, strong, hard-nosed guys they can fill into those spots. Of course, this is hard to replicate in the game but when looking for d-lineman at Air Force I generally look for strength as my number one factor over size, speed or anything else. The 3-4 also allows them to get their more athletic guys on the field, which they have more of because of the height/weight limitations at the Academy.
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Old 07-25-2009, 05:35 PM   #8
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

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Originally Posted by coachchris
You make a good point. One of the things I have done in the past is move DT's to the DE position because like you said the DE's in a 3-4 scheme are really DT's.

Now I just started my Air Force dynasty last night and they play with a 3-4 defense so I have not had a chance to really delve into the recruiting yet but I know this has been an issue in the past.

One thing to note is a team like Air Force plays the 3-4 for different reasons then some other teams. The Academy knows they are not going to have any really big guys to play those three d-line positions because of the height/weight limitation. However, they are sure of one thing they will have year in and year out some tough, strong, hard-nosed guys they can fill into those spots. Of course, this is hard to replicate in the game but when looking for d-lineman at Air Force I generally look for strength as my number one factor over size, speed or anything else. The 3-4 also allows them to get their more athletic guys on the field, which they have more of because of the height/weight limitations at the Academy.
So true...I am a big fan of the 3-4 defense, cause of the Packers are changing too it and I saw its effectiveness in New England, and I was thinking about switching too it soon. The only problem I have is the Defensive Ends. What kind of ratings drop are you seeing from switching Defensive Tackles to Defensive Ends.
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:35 PM   #9
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

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Originally Posted by DerkontheOS
So true...I am a big fan of the 3-4 defense, cause of the Packers are changing too it and I saw its effectiveness in New England, and I was thinking about switching too it soon. The only problem I have is the Defensive Ends. What kind of ratings drop are you seeing from switching Defensive Tackles to Defensive Ends.

Good question Derk. I know DE's get a ratings boost when they move inside to DT but I don't know about the other way around.
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:13 PM   #10
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Re: Strengths and weaknesses of 3-4 schemes

I too love the 3-4 defense! I think I'm going to slowly work my way back to it. Right now I'm using multiple. At first I don't think my reaction time was good enough for this game because I was getting owned anytime I went straight 3-4.

In the game, I've always deviated somewhat from what a real 3-4 defense looks like. I do recruit at least one big, strong (and slow if necessary) defensive end, while the other is more of a typical rusher but still has to be 250+. On the side of the smaller DE, I also have my best block-shedding/tacklling OLB. Block shedding (BSH) is a huge key to the 3-4 defense. It's the first thing I look for at every position except FS. I want it there too but I'm looking for speed/AWR there first. You want corners with above-average BSH ratings (in my best defenses in the '09 version of the game, both starting corners had 70+ BSH and TAK ratings...

I guess the thing I love most about the 3-4 is that no matter what the offense is doing, I don't necessarily HAVE to come out of my base, I could just play Cover 4 or Cover 3, or even zone blitzes a few plays in a row if I have to. I think it frustrates people when they bring out 4-wide with the intention to spread you out... And you're still plugging up any run lanes for the most part.

With my final team in '09 on Heisman difficulty we allowed a total of 202 points and 505 yards rushing on the season with the 3-4.


Also... A little off topic but a quick note about the 4-2-5 and the 3-3-5. I think the 3-4 is superior to these because it is better against the run. A lot of people thought that those "one safety back" D's were cheesy in last year's game because they were deceivingly difficult to pass against.., but it's just because they weren't determined enough to run against the weak SS trying to hold the edge. In the last two seasons of '09 in my OD there wasn't one time where I faced a one-safety-back D and didn't get 200 yards on the ground. Usually with one back.

Last edited by Hellisan; 07-25-2009 at 09:21 PM.
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