New York Jets' defense could benefit greatly from switch to 4-3

Discussion in 'New York Jets' started by Pluvrr, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. Pluvrr

    Pluvrr Active Member

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    Pretty good Bucky Brooks article. I normally don't like him, but this seems like good analysis.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000...fense-could-benefit-greatly-from-switch-to-43


    New York Jets' defense could benefit greatly from switch to 4-3

    By Bucky Brooks NFL.com
    Analyst, NFL.com and NFL Network

    The New York Jets have been one of the top defenses in the NFL under Rex Ryan, utilizing a 3-4 scheme that has been problematic for opponents. However, Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine have recently talked about moving to a four-man front in 2012 to take the defense to another level.

    Here are three reasons why a move to a 4-3 defense makes sense for the Jets:

    1. Switching to a four-man front allows the Jets to put their best players on the field.

    The best coaches in the NFL are willing to tailor their tactics to fit the strengths of their personnel. Clever strategists will focus on putting their best players in the ideal position to make plays. In the Jets' case, Ryan and Pettine are revamping their scheme to build around a young, athletic defensive line that could emerge as one of the NFL's best units in 2012.

    Muhammad Wilkerson, a second-year pro from Temple, is a catalyst for the move with his size, strength and athleticism. He is a versatile defender with the ability to play anywhere along the line, and the Jets can really tap into his position flexibility by using a four-man front. In a conventional 4-3, Wilkerson would ideally fit as a three-technique, aligning on the outside shade of the offensive guard. He displays an explosive first-step and excels creating penetration in the middle. Given his impact and production, Wilkerson will command double-team attention on the majority of snaps, freeing linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris to flow freely to the ball.

    The addition of Quinton Coples also makes the move to a four-man front a sensible one for the Jets. At 6-foot-6, 284 pounds, Coples is an athletic edge rusher with quickness and burst. He excels at blowing past defenders with a sneaky first step and utilizes a combination of strength and power to get to the quarterback. Coples' unique skill set allows him to not only thrive off the edge, but also create havoc as an interior rusher in sub-packages. Although he was widely criticized for his inconsistent motor and effort as a collegian, Coples' natural talent is undeniable. If he plays to his potential as a pro, the Jets' defense becomes a ferocious unit along the front line.

    The final piece of the puzzle that makes this an effective transition for the Jets is the adaptability of Calvin Pace. The 10th-year pro has played outside linebacker for the Jets since coming over from the Arizona Cardinals in 2008, but he is a natural defensive end. He spent the first five seasons of his career with his hand in the ground, and placing him at RDE should bode well for him. While Pace has amassed 25 sacks as a 3-4 "Rush" linebacker for the Jets over a four-year period, providing him with the opportunity to pursue the quarterback full-time should result in better numbers for Pace and the Jets' front as a whole.

    2. It is easier to morph into the "46" from a Base 4-3 defense.

    The Jets have boldly discussed unveiling their version of the "46" defense this season. The scheme, which is a variation of a "Double Eagle" defense, aligns three defensive linemen over top of the center and two offensive guards, while positioning a linebacker in front of the tight end (in pro sets) and the corners in press coverage on the outside. The strong safety is positioned beside the linebackers as an eighth defender in the box.

    The scheme is difficult for opponents to block in the running game, due to the presence of eight defenders near the line of scrimmage and clever alignment of the interior defenders over top of the center and two offense guards. The positioning prevents offenses from using pulls and traps to uproot defenders out of the box and makes it difficult for runners to find seams between the tackles. Against the pass, the threat of seven or eight defenders coming on aggressive blitzes forces offenses to simplify their pass protection, creating one-on-one opportunities for rushers.

    The scheme rose to prominence following Buddy Ryan's success with the 1985 Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Oilers, but few teams have been able to effectively incorporate the tactics since. However, Ryan and Pettine have a keen understanding of the nuances of the defense, and they have been able to successfully utilize the scheme in select situations. For instance, the Jets have jumped into the "46" in short-yardage situations to stop teams from running between the tackles. Here is a variation of the "46" used by the Jets against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 last season:

    On this play, the Jets were able to stuff Fred Jackson on a critical fourth-down play in the fourth quarter. (Click here to see the full video.)

    The Jets also used the scheme against the Denver Broncos to slow down Tim Tebow and the zone-read option. The tactic was effective for most of the game, and it held the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense well below its season average. While the Jets ultimately lost the game on a late-game drive, the impressive performance provided the rest of the league with a glimpse of the potential impact of the "46" scheme.

    Here is screen grab of the "46" defense used by the Jets to slow down Tebow and the Broncos. (Eric Smith, the safety at the bottom of the screen, is walking up to the line of scrimmage late to cloud Tebow's pre-snap read.)

    And here is an end-zone shot of the Jets' variation of the "46" defense. Notice how three defensive linemen cover up the center and two offensive guards, eliminating the gaps in the middle of the line.

    That play turned out pretty well for the Jets, as they forced and recovered a fumble. (Watch the video here.)

    With the Jets opting to feature a 4-3 as their base defense, the "46" could become a prominent part of the game plan. It is easier to shift into the defense from a four-man front since new personnel is not needed on the field. In addition, the versatility of Coples, Wilkerson and Pace makes it problematic for opponents to predict what kind of front the Jets will align in when the huddle breaks. For instance, the Jets can line up in their conventional 4-3 on first down, and jump into a version of the "46" on subsequent downs without substituting.

    Furthermore, the Jets can also stem or shift into the alignment prior to the snap. This clouds the reads of the offensive line, which routinely results in blown assignments at the point of attack. Disruptive plays are valued at a premium, and the ability to fool opponents with an amoeba-like front could produce fireworks for the Jets' defense.

    3. A four-man front matches up better with the Jets' AFC East opponents.

    To match up with the spread-oriented offenses of the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, the Jets will have to spend an inordinate amount of time in various nickel and dime packages. The Jets will extensively use 4-2-5 (four defensive linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs) and 4-1-6 (four defensive linemen, one linebacker and six defensive backs) packages to neutralize the three- and four-receiver sets presented by their rivals. They could also use a variation of a "big nickel" package (four defensive linemen, two linebackers, three safeties and two corners) to deal with the Patriots' two-tight end formations.
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    Although the Jets certainly possess the secondary personnel to match up with their rivals, the best way to neutralize a potent passing game is to consistently harass the quarterback in the pocket. Part of this can be accomplished by blitzing multiple defenders from the second level, but it's not the most effective way to generate consistent pressure. By relying on the front four to get after the passer, the Jets can drop seven defenders into coverage to suffocate receivers. Without an available receiver to hit in rhythm, the passer is forced to pat the ball in the pocket, leading to late sacks from hustling defenders off the edge.

    The Jets can also reconfigure their front to put their best four rushers on the field and ratchet up the pressure on quarterbacks. This could result in Aaron Maybin entering the game as an edge rusher opposite Pace, with a mix of Coples, Wilkerson and Marcus Dixon on the interior. With plenty of speed and athleticism, the Jets can wreak havoc on opponents with a variety of four-man combinations at the line of scrimmage.
     
  2. Sandman

    Sandman Well-Known Member

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    Good article. I enjoyed that read! :)
     
  3. themorey

    themorey Well-Known Member

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    We'll need tight bump and run coverage on the NE TEs and Welker to throw off their timing. We all know Tommy Boy is going to try and get rid of the ball quickly to avoid getting hit. Hopefully our new safeties can knock the TEs off their routes at the line and force Tommy Boy to hold the ball long enough for Coples and Wilk to reunite at Tommy's midsection.
     
  4. deerow84

    deerow84 Well-Known Member

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    Good read, thanks for posting it!
     
  5. Jonathan_Vilma

    Jonathan_Vilma Well-Known Member

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    While he does make some valid points, most of our linebackers were tailor made for the 3-4 defense. Both David Harris and Bart Scott are big two down 250ish pound guys who are made to take on and shed blocks rather than roam sideline to sideline. We also don't have a weak side backer that is able to cover athletic tightens which the 4-3 generally requires and at the very least be able to drop into an underneath shell or hook zone.

    A hybrid defense is best to fit out personnel at this point because we simply don't have the speed and athleticism at ANY of the backer positions to consistently make stops on edge rushes. Any zone blocking scheme that runs stretches and tosses would simply kill us if we ran a 4-3 in more than obvious passing downs with extra safeties and backs on the field.
     
  6. ajax

    ajax Well-Known Member

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    Good points. 4-man front might allow the Jets to put out the most talent on the field but will it expose a bigger weakness than their usual 3-4? Under Rex, LB were drafted/signed to play a certain style of defense. Think there is a false assumption that LB can go back & forth between both schemes without a problem

    Shift to consistent 4-3 should require a revamp in this LB core also. Hopefully, Demario Davis will learn enough to step up and get some steady snaps on D.
     
  7. dcm1602

    dcm1602 Member

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    Davis Harris played 4-3 in college

    Demario Davis projects well for a 4-3

    Maybin played 4-3 end in college, and some project him as a solid 4-3 olb.

    Although I agree guys like Pace Scott and Thomas could all be issues.

    However its safe to say that none of them will be on this team after this year, so im not really concerned.
     
  8. NYJalltheway

    NYJalltheway Well-Known Member

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    I love everything about this, but my main concern with seeing all the formations is CB.

    If we are going to use a lot of secondary players, then what are we supposed to do with our corners after Revis, Crom, and Wilson? Who are we going to use!?
     
  9. vilmatic

    vilmatic Active Member

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    how come no one says that Joe Gibbs figured out how to beat the 46 - by using max protect and running two man routes.
     
  10. TwoHeadedMonster

    TwoHeadedMonster Well-Known Member

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    I love that we just keep talking about the 3-4 and the 4-3 and the 46 while every almost offense in the league at this point is based on maximizing the number of receivers (WRs or TEs) in order to spread defenses out and make sure linebackers are either in coverage or on the bench.

    We need to be more concerned about the Safety situation and the development of Wilson and whoever is playing the dime position. Who cares what our base D is anymore when 80% of defensive snaps are played from the nickle or dime?
    This is exactly why Coples was an infinitely better pick than a pass rushing OLB.
     
  11. ajax

    ajax Well-Known Member

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    It was a combination of scheme + talent though. Gibbs had hogs on his OL & one of those two receivers was Art Monk. No scheme is unstoppable. Best you can do is create a scheme with a weakness very few teams have the talent to take advantage of.

    Also, With Revis + Cro, I'm not seeing too many instances of opposing offenses having only 2 receivers out in passing plays.
     
  12. ajax

    ajax Well-Known Member

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    Pace, Scott, Thomas are the players I was thinking would struggle with the conversion & agree that all three or 2/3 will be gone. This is why I'm really pulling for Demario Davis. Having one LB ready to go next season would be huge.
     
  13. Bellows1

    Bellows1 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe we can get Gholston back... wasn't he a 4-3 guy.
     
    #13 Bellows1, Jun 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  14. FJF

    FJF 2018 MVP Joe Namath Award Winner

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    d.harris can play the mike,no problem.i think scott/maybin can be servicable at the will and davis should be able to play the sam and cover a t.e.

    or we will see alot of the big nickle with smith,landry and bell.
     
  15. Jonathan_Vilma

    Jonathan_Vilma Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't say that David Harris can play the MIKE linebacker in the 4-3 no problem. Sure he can play it sometimes, but he's a linebacker of brute force who thrives on shedding blocks. The 4-3 is designed to have a rover type MIKE linebacker who won't take on blocks, and just runs sideline to sideline. It's such a shame to look back and see Jonathan Vilma gone, even though hindsight is 20/20 because Rex would love him and he would fit perfectly next to Harris.

    Think about it: Double the nose up to Harris, man each of the ends, tightend on the outside linebacker and that would leave a rover like Vilma to run free and make the tackles (and I'm not just saying this because he's my username LOL).

    But it all comes down to establishing if Davis can take on that role of flying around and making tackles. That's why Scott is such an odd man out in this defense, because we essentially have two strong side 3-4 inside linebackers with no speed to run free and chase down the ball carriers on stretches.
     
  16. Jake

    Jake Well-Known Member

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    Harris will be able to play 4-3 MLB without problems. Bart Scott lost 15 pounds and figures to play 4-3 OLB, a position he's played before. He will likely be a 1st and 2nd down guy. I also doubt we just abandon the 3-4.
     
  17. Jonathan_Vilma

    Jonathan_Vilma Well-Known Member

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    To be honest Bart Scott can lose as much weight as he wants but that doesn't exactly mean he's suddenly fast enough to cover tightends or even be effective in dropping on a hookzone..he's simply not a fast guy and especially at this point in his career he specializes at taking on blocks and making A gap tackles. If we were to switch to the 4-3 full time I think it would be a terrible mistake if we go with Scott/Harris/pace or Thomas as our backers. Probably the slowest corps in the league..maybe even the slowest since the lasting days of Marvin jones and mo Lewis
     
  18. Jake

    Jake Well-Known Member

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    ^He won't be covering TEs regularly. That much we know, and if he is then he'll have help over the top.

    Pace and Thomas aren't 4-3 OLBs, and should not be playing there. Demario Davis or J Mauga project to 4-3 OLB.
     
  19. JET'S_my_name

    JET'S_my_name Banned

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    Nice article, thanks.
     
  20. Quinnenthebeast

    Quinnenthebeast Well-Known Member

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    I like this for sub packaging purposes. I think we could see more rotation of Maybin, Ellis, Davis and Devitoas the 4-3 puts a greater diversity of players on the field.
     

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