Understanding The 3-4 Defense

January 22nd, 2016


On Wednesday, defensive coordinator Mike Smith downplayed labeling what the new Bucs defense will look like.

Like a stream of fresh air in a fart-filled room, Smith talked about crafting a defense to fit personnel, making things easy on the defense but confusing for opposing quarterbacks, and comfortably switching from 4-3 looks to 3-4.

With that in mind, Joe presents this cool look at a Pittsburgh-style 3-4 defense, courtesy of Bill Cowher and Pat Kirwan.

Do the Bucs have 3-4 personnel? No, but that could change in a hurry. Tampa Bay does have some elements. Will Gholston is an interesting fit given his size, as is Akeem Spence and Lavonte David. There are others.


23 Responses to “Understanding The 3-4 Defense”

  1. Danati74 Says:

    As long as they produce it doesn’t matter to me anymore. I’m sure LVD and Kwon could appreciate getting more chances at sacks.

  2. Lord Says:

    I love his philosophy.

    1. Put players in responsibilities that tailor to their talent and bring out their best
    2. Do this in a system that keeps it mentally easy for the player to execute
    3. Do this in a system that gives different pre snap looks to always keep the QB guessing

    The key to this “system” is its flexibility. And I’d hope he will game plan differently for different opponents / make adjustments in-game / etc.

    Like against Mariota- any smart coach would have saw how successful he was with 1st reads and quick release yet Lovie basically set the D up for collosal failure against that type of offense. Should have been jamming WRs and taking away underneath routes while using creative blitzes

  3. PanthersSuck! Says:

    But how are the fans supposed to know what to expect on game days if our defense is unpredictable? We’re so used to knowing exactly what was going to happen!

  4. Tom S. Says:

    Raheem Morris ran a hybrid 4-3 with 3-4 looks which he labeled Tampa 2.0. Dekoda Watson would, at times, unsuccessfully, come in as a rush end. I recall Morris saying 5-6 years ago that it was important to give a variety of looks and it was no longer possible in todays pass-happy NFL to rely strictly on the Tampa 2 base.

    It looks looks like we may see some similarities with hopefully a better result.

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    I think this will be very interesting to watch. I made the comment of the D not having 3-4 personnel. That being said, is there any difference between a 4-3 LB blitz with a DE dropping into zone? I think if you think about it, the only difference is that there is one more guy with his hand on the ground. The ‘tweeners’ we have at DE might be better suited for a 3-4 LB.
    Dang, the off-season is so long!

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Smith probably has and will be able to help Koetter with the offensive game plan vs 3-4……

  7. Mike Johnson Says:

    I could care less what kind of Defense my Bucs will run. Just..run it right. And get the right players to run it. Everything looks good on paper. Even my 1st marriage..until it fell apart!! Just Win Bucs. No excuses. Tired of the talk. Lets see what you got Koetter and company. Batter up.

  8. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Would GMC work for a 3-4?

    Could always trade him for a couple firsts if not. He would get them.

  9. Bucs Fan #7423 Says:

    Bucsfanman – The difference is in the personnel you need for it to be effective.

  10. Bucco Brice Says:

    no way this roster can run a 3-4. lavonte and kwon are pure cover 2 backers > undersized and not pure pass rushers..

  11. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Gerald McCoy (2010)

    “Gerald McCoy didn’t play the 3-technique but was moved all over the line. He played defensive end in a 4-3, defensive end in a 3-4, 3-technique in a 4-3, nose tackle in a 3-4 and nose tackle in a 4-3. He played all over the line, and that limited his development as he got off to a slow start”

    He recorded his first sack against the 49ers on November 21, 2010. His first multi-sack game came on November 28, 2010 when he sacked quarterback Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens twice. On December 12, 2010, McCoy suffered a torn left biceps, causing the team to place him on IR two days later

    (2010) 13 Games Played + 3 sacks
    (2011) 6 Games Played + 1 sacks

  12. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Not showing up

  13. jvato24 Says:

    Pretty sure you will see the hybrid looks on blitzing situations

  14. gotbbucs Says:

    @ bucco bruce

    Does Ryan Shazier in Pittsburgh look like a “typical” 3-4 backer to you?

    Gohlston is built to be a 5-tech and McCoy can play the position too. It’s a hybrid front. It’s away to generate pressure in sub-packages on 3rd down. Open up your mind a bit.

  15. Bucsfanman Says:

    I know 7423, I’m just saying that we may already have some of those ‘tweener’ LB/DE already on the team. Smith is undersized for DE but would be a good 3-4 LB for example.
    Bucco- I’m not so sure. I mean yeah they are “under-sized’ but surely they’re smart and talented enough to be able to compensate. Mason Foster did alright in a 3-4 and, personally, I don’t think he’s nearly as talented.
    Really, it will be about learning the system more than anything.
    Yea Bonzai, lets just start trading players for picks. That’ll work!!! Lets get another coach while we’re at it!

  16. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    cover 2 backers > undersized and not pure pass rushers..

    They may not be pure but they can be very effective. In Schiano’s last year LVD was utilized on the blitz more often and he recorded 7 sacks!!! They may not have been pure but they still were effective.

    This year LVD has three sacks…and Kwon had three sacks in just 3/4 of a season.

    If both of these guys simply matched LVD’s 7…getting another 15-20 sacks from LB’s would be huge!

    They may not be physical beasts in terms of size but they are lightning fast and hard to block. They’ll get their sacks from speed and surprise.

  17. Waterboy Says:

    It all sounds good right now, I just hope it’s a lot better than those Atlanta defenses. As far as Jacksonville I’m not sure how much of that was Smith and how much of it was Del Rio but we will soon find out.

  18. Pick6 Says:

    it would turn GMC into a DE with fewer chances to hang out on the other side of the LOS, and would also really not play to the strengths of our star LBs. i can see 3-4 looks, but a scheme change is the opposite of what mike smith preaches about fitting the scheme to the players’ strengths. we have some of the toughest ingredients already in place for a speedy aggressive 4-3. Lavonte played at a Defensive MVP level when he was free to attack the play under a similar philosophy in 2013

  19. LargoBuc Says:

    I think LVD would shine as a 3-4 olb, he proved he can get after the qb in years past. I could see Jac Smith as a fit too. On the dl, put Gholston and Mccoy at end, and Spence theoretically has the size and strength to play nt. Match Kwon with a thumper at mlb and we have the start of a 3-4 front!
    Of course, it dosent always play out on the field as good as it looks on paper. But in todays nfl, defenses absuloutely have show multiple looks to keep the qb guessing.

  20. Rrsrq Says:

    So Tom S. Are you saying Mike Smith learned from Raheem, didn’t he spend time on the Falcons staff or was that this year

  21. gotbbucs Says:

    Nobody is talking about using a 34 as our base defense. Like Smith said, shifting your 43 over essentially turns it into a 34. What he was more concerned about was discuising coverages on the back end.
    I guess we’ll see, I believe we’re in better hands going forward than we were the last seven years. Collect cover corners and pass rushers and get after it.

  22. Espo Says:


    I don’t see anyone trading a first for him, much less a couple. I’m definitely not bashing him, I just don’t see a GM trading a prized draft pick. I also don’t see Licht trading him for a first. He’s far too valuable to us, regardless of defensive style.

  23. Brandon Says:

    BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    January 22nd, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Would GMC work for a 3-4?

    Could always trade him for a couple firsts if not. He would get them.

    It’s always to spot the people that don’t understand the NFL…at all. GMC is making a ton of money. His contract alone is his determining worth…nothing else. Once a player signs their big money deal, they are completely worthless in terms of trade value and draft picks unless they somehow outplay their contract. GMC is worth the money he makes…ONLY! This is what made the Revis trade one of the worst in history. A 1st and a 3rd for the right to pay the guy more money that what anybody is getting right now. Revis’ contract he signed with the Bucs was at a level that even three years later he would still be the highest paid CB in the game….and we gave away valuable picks for that. GMC is worth his contract, some would argue that he isn’t even worth that.