(Some) 34 Defense Is Coming

May 22nd, 2017

Bucs LB coach talks defense.

In the past couple of months, Joe started sniffing the Bucs would try a little more 34 defense than what Mike Smith’s crew did last year.

The Bucs defensive coordinator, when he came on board, made it clear it would be unwise to label his defense as strictly a 43 front, though that would be his base defense.

Joe saw with his own eyes in practice the Bucs running a 34 defense with Noah Spence playing outside linebacker, a position he played in college.

When the Bucs signed free agent defensive tackle Chris Baker, it raised an eyebrow. With the Redskins, Baker had played some defensive end when they showed a 34 front.

Then came the draft. LSU linebacker Kendall Beckwith being selected in the third round seemed awfully high for a part-time player, which is what the strongside linebacker is. Then in the seventh round, the Bucs grabbed USC defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu. At 6-1, 330, that just screams a 34 nose tackle.

Last week, when Bucs assistant coaches spoke, Joe chatted with defensive line coach Jay Hayes and linebackers coach Mark Duffner. When asked about playing some 34 defense, neither tried to throw cold water on the idea.

“We have the potential to do a lot of multiple things,” Hayes said. “Smitty has always had multiple packages. Is there a chance that we could have a look that looks like a 34? Sure, that potential is there.

“We will always be a multiple front. With the type of athletes we have, we are going to move people all around. We are going to rush people, drop people, and keep [opposing coaches] on edge. In the NFL today, you have to do those things to be effective. Sometimes, we may have the big guys standing up. Who knows?”

Joe asked Duffner if Beckwith could play inside linebacker in a 34 front (time will tell, Joe was told), and Duffner then began to talk about different defensive looks.

“We are going to try to utilize the talents of our players,” Duffner said. “So we are a multiple-scheme and we will see how it all sorts out. Trying to put guys in the right spots to maximize their abilities really is what we are tasked to do.”

In short, the Bucs have all but announced a 34 defense is coming. They may only use it, oh, 10 percent of the time. Maybe more depending on the opponent and the success of the scheme, maybe less.

It’s a safe bet we will see the Bucs run a 34 defense more than last year, which was very limited.

26 Responses to “(Some) 34 Defense Is Coming”

  1. tmaxcon Says:

    more 3 – 4
    bigger tackles
    coach wants a badass team
    gm wants players who want to win at all costs
    jameis wants players that hate to lose
    ayers wants hostile

    the writing is on the wall

    soak it up GMC fans it’s an end of the ice cream era… he does not fit a single quality that the leaders of the new bucs desire. good player sure he is but just does not fit the mold of the new buccaneer man.

  2. NJBucsFan Says:

    Refreshing to see a defensive mind that can change their scheme and use talent that is there.

  3. PRBucFan Says:

    it has always been a multiple front defense, just make sure people don’t take it further than it is an occasional 3-4 rotation lol.

  4. Bucs_in_Spain Says:

    We did do some 3-4 looks last season, but the only time we did with any regularity was late against SF when Daryl Smith was assigned to spy on Kapernick.

    For the GMC haters, I’d say this is a way of making GMC even more effective. We won’t be in 3-4 while he’s on the field, it’ll mean we can get him better rested and still be effective.

  5. Lord Cornelius Says:

    All great news.

    Philosophically I love everything I’ve heard.. Basically talent> scheme and our scheme will always be evolving based on talent & the opponents we are facing each week.

    We don’t have a designated FS/SS – as they expect both safeties to have the skill sets of both positions. That way the coverage pre-snap is much less predictable in terms of QBs reading the S movement.

    I’d imagine the 4-3/3-4 variation will mostly be based on opponent and match-ups. It simply gives you a bit more flexibility when coming up with a weekly game plan or when thinking through various game day situations.

  6. tmaxcon Says:


    or people can stop making excuses for him and hold him accountable for all 4 qtrs like NFL Greats of the past have been. The greats of the past were able to make impact plays and change games without getting all tuckered out. I realize its a much softer society now but he’s hardly a great player if you have to lower the bar for him to be considered great. it’s a full time game not a part time job.

  7. LakeLandBuc Says:

    I could see GMC at DE, Chris Baker at DT, Robert Ayers at DE.. Lavonte David at OLB, Kendell Beckwith at ILB, Kwon Alexander at ILB, Noah Spence at OLB.

  8. Kaptain Morgan Says:

    OJ Howard is signed.

  9. Mike Says:

    This is PERFECT. No more Lovie Smith telegraphing to the entire world “we are a base 4-3. We will always be a base 4-3 defense. No matter the circumstance, don’t expect us to every run anything else but a base 4-3”. We will play within the system

    The important thing to note (which defenses are finally catching up with), is that good offenses change slightly from week to week. This is EXACTLY what it looks like we will be doing this season. It is necessary to adapt to opponents and keep QB’s on edge. The days of “bend but dont break” 4-3 are what pass happy offenses feed off of. This is precisely Lovie Smith’s downfall and why I was so glad we let him go.

  10. unbelievable Says:

    Trying to put guys in the right spots to maximize their abilities really is what we are tasked to do.

    LOVE hearing this! This is exactly what good coaches do.

    In other news, tmax is still in denial about McCoy. Sad, very sad!

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Scheme should be dictated on a play-by-play basis, this is why Belichek has so many rings.
    We need the starters to stay healthy. We didn’t see a lot of 3-4 last year I think because of the number of injuries. We’ve also added some interesting pieces to augment what we have.
    @tmax- I see GMC coming off the edge in this alignment where his quickness is an advantage over a lumbering tackle.

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:


    I suppose you would be in favor of a 2-5 defense with GMC not being one of the two.

  13. Buc4Lyfe79 Says:

    For the Joe(s?) that think GMC’s talent would be wasted lining up as a DE in a 3-4, did not Tampa’s very first HOF’er play DE in a 3-4? Back in GMC’s 2nd season, (when the player’s radio shows were still taking fan call in’s) I called and spoke to GMC. As a longtime fan of football in general, I told him that I thought he should study the film work of one HOF’er Bruce Smith, who played DE in a 3-4, and who terrorized opposing QB’s with just as much tenacity and relentlessness as our own Lee Roy Selmon. He replied that Smith had actually been one of many NFL stars he had studied in college and that Keith Millard (Dline coach at the time) also floated his name as someone whose film he should study. Traditional 3-4 schemes look for their DE’s to be similar to their NT’s. Big, physical, and stout. They are down one man on their base line, so coaches who employ the scheme generally feel they need those 3 linemen to be rock solid pillars who are tough to move and can better “hold the line.” They look to their LB’s to swarm around and make the plays in between the gaps that hopefully those 3 linemen are sustaining. I’d be willing to bet good money that Joe’s “oh they may use it 10% of the time” assertion” is about as off as thinking our offense didn’t need OJ Howard because CB “led the league in TD’s last year” or that Brate will be trade bait now that we have Howard. I’d say we’ll see 3-4 fronts more along the lines of 25-30% of the time this year. That does of course come down to key players current health, and how well the players are able to execute the call from those fronts, but given the str8 up physical specimens we have depth wise in our front 7 now, I’m sure execution will not be a problem. I’d also give real money to see “Tmaxcon” talk all his keyboard sh!t to GMC’s face.
    GO BUCS!!!

  14. Locked In Says:

    Who would like to see a Lucha Libre match of TMaxieCom vs. Mr. ice cream man. I’d pay good money for that just to see the weak and soft GMC cringe away in fear.

  15. Pickgrin Says:

    “We are going to try to utilize the talents of our players,” Duffner said. “So we are a multiple-scheme and we will see how it all sorts out. Trying to put guys in the right spots to maximize their abilities really is what we are tasked to do.”

    So – basically the antithesis of the Lovie Smith approach to Defense. LOL

  16. Broy34 Says:

    Another day, another wasted five minutes going over comments from tmax about gmc that are irrelevant. Thank goodness I didn’t have to see “Bucs realist loser” comment from a month ago acting like he predicted what Joe was gonna type and claim he already said it. Yes dude we get it Joe said we need receivers and should carry two qb’s prior to the draft. Congrats you saw what every madden player 12 and over could see. Then there’s the guy who comments against maxipads argument about McCoy not knowing the guy hates on him like flies on poop

  17. Lou. Says:


    Could the team be aiming to have Noah Spence play ILB in a 3-4?

    I have always assumed that the pan was to put Noah on the outside (possibly flanking J. Smith). But he would be an outsized backer, especially as a won and Lavonte are so small for 3-4 ILBs.

    I know that this would be limited to passing downs. But the LB personnel do not seem proper for regular 3-4 alignment.

  18. Steven007 Says:

    @Spain/Unbelievable/Locked In/ – Re: Tmaxine – it’s always rich when a blog poster questions an NFL players.masculinity, especially an All Pro/Pro Bowler/Top 100 NFL player. Those designations are not accidents. It is usually because the poster himself questions his own masculinity. This is psychology 101. At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Baker and GMC at DE with Spence coming off the edge could be effective, but I don’t think this will really come to full fruition until Beckwith is entrenched somewhere as an ILB in that scenario. If his recuperation goes well perhaps we’ll see it later in the year. If not it probably won’t happen (the version with Beckwith) until 2018.

  19. JimmyJack Says:

    Yeah, hes a dreamer who thought McCoy would be a HOFer and carry the team to Super Bowls. He never once thought the struggles and turmoil within the organization could be anything except McCoys fault.

    I guess its just easier for some fans to blame everything onto one single player.

    In, reality there are probably hundreds f reasons for the franchise 15 year losing streak. Funny thing is that McCoy is one of the few and rare successes over the last 15 years. These dreamers are morons but are very very entertaining.

  20. BucEmUp Says:

    I will believe it when I see it….I have little faith in Mike Smiths ability to put a good defense on the filed

  21. tnew Says:

    Noah Spence is 100% outside linebacker. Plus with him getting bigger and leaner, according to Jay Hayes, he will just be more fierce on the pass rush. Putting him as an inside linebacker would be a waste of personel

  22. Buccaneer scotty Says:

    Are you a Crack head ?(BucEmUp) or just a dumb a@s?Go be a stinkin Panthers Fan!you too tmax!

  23. 1nebuv Says:



  24. Pick6 Says:

    the organization has a goal of giving GMC a break during games to make him a better 4th quarter player. GMC is kinda wasted in a 3-4 alignment. might we see more of that 3-4 look in quarters 2 and 3 on the snaps or series where GMC is taking a breather?

    it’s almost negligent for a coach to keep their best interior rusher on the sideline in a 4-3 alignment…so maybe the answer is to eschew 4-3 when said rusher is taking a breather

  25. SB Says:

    I am telling you guys, we are All good on both sides of the ball where starters are concerned. Depth is the only thing I fear and it is all on Defense where we need it. If our D can be top 15 then This Ship is Sailing towards the Playoffs!!!!

  26. Dave Says:

    TMaxcon only thinks he understands football.
    Most know better.