The 3-4 in Midnight Green?


(Rock on Bro, Rock On)

While I myself was part of giving McDermott one more shot, I wasn't as heartbroken as others. McDermott's lackluster numbers (whether its the players fault or not) were not acceptable for a play-off team. Look around, the remaining teams are all ranked in the top ten on defense. Ne need to get this fixed.

There are many candidates and little information that has been released on who is being interview. This post isn't about who is the coordinator, rather if (insert name here) decides to run a 3-4, will it work with what is in place now. Is Reid's roster current roster able to convert from a 4-3 to a 3-4 well? 

For those who are unfamiliar to the 3-4 defense here is a link for more information

Here is a brief summary


  • In a 3-4 there are 2 defensive ends lining up on either the tackles or the guard. There is one defensive tackle or nose tackle that usually line up on the center. There are 4 line-backers that occasionally line up on the line of scrimmage.
  • 3-4 was created in the 40's by Bud Wilkinson in college. Implemented in the pro's by Chuck Fairbanks with New England in 1974.
  • THE EXACT PERSONNEL IS NEEDED FOR IT TO WORK WELL. Get it right you have a Steelers or Packer defense. Get it wrong, you have a Browns, Broncos, and Redskins defense.

So what is needed? Let's look at some of the best defenses today that use the 3-4 effectively. The teams chosen were all in the top ten in defense. 6/10 of the top ten run a 3-4. The Chargers, Steelers, Packers, Ravens, and Jets all run them well. Let's look at their front seven.

Starting Defensive Ends (Tackles, Sacks, FF, INT)

Ryan Pickett (32, 1.0, 0, 0) Cullen Jenkins* (18, 7.0, 0, 0) 

Ziggy Hood* (20, 3.0, 1, 0) Brett Keisel* (37, 3.0, 2, 1)

Corey Redding (38, 3.0, 0, 0) Haloti Ngata (68, 5.5, 0, 0)

Jacques Cesaire (31, 1.5, 0, 0) Luis Castillo (28, 7.5, 0, 0)

Shaun Ellis (36, 4.5, 1, 0) Mike Devito (59, 0, 2, 0)

Average Tackle: 36.7, Avg Sack: 3.5

*= they did not participate in all 16 games

The misconception of 3-4 DE having little impact is huge. They need a decent amount of tackles and sacks. The only DL for the eagles to have close to that average in tackles besides T. Cole is Mike Patterson, and he only has 2 sacks. It is also important to note that each team had at least 1 DE with 3 or more sacks. Cullen Jenkins really impressed me this season with his pass-rush, he had 7 sacks in 9 games.   

Starting Nose Tackles (Tackles, Sacks, FF, INT)

Bj Raji (39, 6.5, 0, 0)

Casey Hampton (20, 1.0, 1, 0)

Kelly Greg (39, 0, 0, 0)

Antonio Garay (47, 5.5, 0, 0)

Sione Puha (59, 2.0, 0, 0)

Avg Tackle: 40.8, Avg Sack: 3.0

The Nose Tackle really is the heart of the 3-4. You must have a guy that can penetrate and work against the center and guards. They have to make lots of tackles and Mike Patterson had the 30 tackles. Not a good sign for a NT.

Starting Outside Linebackers (Tackles, Sacks, FF, INT)

Clay Matthews (60, 13.5, 2, 1) Frank Zombo* (33, 4, 2, 0)

Lamar Woodley (68, 10, 3, 3) James Harrison (100, 10.5, 6, 2)

Terrell Suggs (55, 11, 2, 0) Jared Johnson (77, 1.5, 2,0)

Shaun Philips (55, 11, 0, 1) Antwann Applewhite (43, 3.0, 2, 0)

Bryant Thomas (39, 6, 1, 0) Calvin Pace (51, 5.5, 1, 1) Jason Taylor (36, 5.0, 2, 0)

Avg Tackle: 56, Avg Sack: 6.5

These are your bread and butter guys in the 3-4, dominate pass-rushers and flat to hook cover-guys. You need at least one guy to bring the heat for it to be successful. Having a successful defensive line and linebacker core rotation can be huge. The Jets have the best one. And look where they are now.

Starting Middle Linebackers (Tackles, Sacks, FF, INT)

Aj Hawk (111, .5,  0, 3) Desmond Bishop (103, 3, 2, 1)

James Farrior (109, 6.0, 1, 0) Lawrence Timmons (100, 10.5 6, 2)

Ray Lewis (145, 2, 2, 2) Jamel McClain (91, 1, 0, 0)

Brandon Siler* (44, 1, 0, 1) Kevin Burnett (95, 6, 2, 2)

Bart Scott (81, 1, 1, 0) David Harris (99, 3.0, 1, 0)
Avg Tackle: 97.8, Avg Sacks: 3.4

The most notable thing is the difference of sacks between the outside and middle backers. However, the middle backers MUST be tackling machines, and are responsible like a Tampa Two middle backer in coverage. But the biggest thing is being the "man" in the running game. What was also interesting was the average at was rounded to 28, which is middle of the road, reaching the age where you are becoming less of an impact player because of the number "30".
In the secondary you need man-to-man guys with an impact safety. 6 out of 10 defenses that led the NFL in INT's were 3-4's (Browns were one of those teams with 18). Out of the top 10 defenses that allowed the fewest points this season 6 ran a 3-4. Out of the top ten defenses that allowed the fewest yards, four were 3-4. Man-to-Man guys for the Green Bay Packers are Charles Woodson and Tramon Willams with an impact safety with Nick Collins. The Ravens have Josh Wilson and Ed Reed. The Steelers have Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu. The Chargers have Quintin Jammers, Antoine Cason, and Eric Weedle. The Jets have 4 good corners, and one of the best combo's in Revis and Cromartie with a healthy Jim Leonard. All of these teams have a good to above average secondary.

Quick Recap

  • Penetrating and Tackling machine NT
  • Pass Rushing OLB
  • Tackling Machines at MLB
  • Man-to-Man CB's
  • Impact FS/SS

Now, how does a 4-3 team that changes their scheme to a 3-4 in their first year do? Two teams that recently did, the Packers in 2009 and Redskins this year.

2008 Packers


  • 20th total defense
  • Pts/G 23.8
  • Total Points 380
  • Yds per Game 334.3
  • Yds/P 5.3
  • 3RD Percentage 38
  • TD/INT: 22/22
  • 20+ plays 39
  • Avg Rush 4.6
  • Total Rushing 2,105

2009 Packers

  • 2nd total defense
  • Pts/G 18.6
  • Total Points 297
  • Yds per Game 284.4
  • Yds/P 4.8
  • 3RD Percentage 36
  • TD/INT 29/30
  • 20+ plays 49
  • Avg Rush 3.6
  • Total Rushing 1,333

Based on these stats the Packers when from middle in the road to top ten.
2009 Redskins

  • 10th total defense
  • Pts/G 21
  • Total Points 336
  • Yds per Game 319.1
  • Yds/P 5.1
  • 3RD Percentage 40
  • TD/INT 19/11
  • 20+ plays 41
  • Avg Rush 4.0
  • Total Rushing 1,799

2010 Redskins

  • 31st total defense
  • Pts/G 123.6
  • Total Points 377
  • Yds per Game 389.2
  • Yds/P 5.9
  • 3RD Percentage 35
  • TD/INT 23/14
  • 20+ plays 57 (note, the Eagles probably inflated this number)
  • Avg Rush 4.6
  • Total Rushing 2,014

Long story short, not pretty. A lack of the correct personnel and the right coordinator is at fault. Their secondary was horrible.
So in your first year, you get the two extremes, either the best or the worst. The right coordinator and personnel are the key.
So how did the transition effect each teams best pass-rusher? How did it effect their best CB? Enter Aaron Kampman, 9th year vet out of Iowa. He was the packers best pass-rusher for most of the decade. His best years were in 2006 and 2007 posting 15.5 and 12 sack seasons. Entering the 3-4 his stats were 

  • 16 games
  • 62 tackles
  • 9.5 sacks

Unfortunately, he did not play the entire 2009 season due to a ACL tear. Here are his numbers.

  • 9 games
  • 42 tackles
  • 3.5 sacks

So I had go use math to figure out his season stats for 2009. He averaged 4.67 tackles per game and .389 sacks. So his numbers would have looked like if he continued that season.

  • 74.67 tackles
  • 6.2 sacks

Looking at those numbers, one would think that he had a good season. However, it would be one of his average seasons. He has had more tackles in 2005 and 2006 while having more sacks in 2005-2008. His year, he again only played 8 games due to a ACL tear. These would be his numbers with the Jags in a full season. 50 tackles and 8 sacks.

Andre Carter had a great season last year with the Redskins posting 11 sacks and 62 tackles. However this season, he played at 16 games, but only started 5 games. Carter hasn't started around 5 games since 2004, when he was with the 49ers and only played 7 games that season. In almost three full seasons when playing in a 3-4 with the 49ners, Carter posted over 7 sacks and 50 tackles. This year when starting only 5 games Carter had

  • 44 tackles 
  • 2.5 sacks

Based on these two players, having a 4-3 DE move to 3-4 OLB is much harder than just switching their position like in madden. Their numbers do drop considerably. However, I'm not saying it's impossible and numbers aren't everything. Let's look if CB's have the same problems.

Charles Woodson is an impact player, and a true man-to-man cover guy that is needed in a 3-4. Here where his 08 numbers. He had a solid year in 2008 with 62 tackles, 7 picks, 2 TD's, and 3 sacks. However in 2009 he had 74 tackles, 9 picks, 3 TD's, 4 FF, and 2 sacks. That year he was presented Defensive MVP. And this year he had 92 tackles!

DeAngleo Hall is the best CB for the Redskins, he has Samuel -like abilities to bait the QB and make them pay. In 2009 the has 58 tackles and 4 INT's. That is a decent year and it should be noted that he didn't play a full-season. Here are his numbers this year. 95 tackles, 6 INT's, 1 TD, and 2 FF. Those gain in numbers are Woodson like impact. He had a better season in a 3-4.

Let's see Asante's last season with a 3-4 team the Patriots. 44 tackles, 6 INTS, and 1 TD in 2007. His best year was in 2006 where surprisingly he had 64 tackles and 10 picks. So a DB generally befits from the switch where as a pass rusher sometimes struggles.

So how would the Eagles look as a 3-4 team. Using the numbers and keys to a 3-4 ahead and the Players we have now(so we would not resign anybody that is a FA right now) I have placed players in positions they would fit in based on their stats from this year.

DE: Antiono Dixon (30 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries), Mike Patterson (37 tackles, 2 sacks)

NT: Trevor Laws (15 tackles, 4 sacks)

OLB: Trent Cole (65 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 pass delections), Darryl Tapp (28 tackles, 3 sacks)/Brandon Graham (13 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 2 FF)

MLB: Mosie Foku (51 tackles, 1 sack), Jammar Chanley (42 tackles, 1 pass deflections, 1 FF)

CB Asante Samuel (26 tackles, 14 pass deflections, 7 INT"s, 1 F Rec), Dimitri Patterson (52 tackles, 1 sack, 11 Pass deflections, 4 INT's, 1 TD)

FS Nate Allen (48 tackles, 2 sacks, 8 pass delfections, 3 INT's, 2 FF)

SS Kurt Coleman ( 26 tackles, 1 INT)

Looking at this roster, we would need a Nose Tackle, a MLB, a impact S, a shut-down corner, and a DE. To me that's a lot of missing pieces and we could possibly need a OLB. I think we have more pieces to a 4-3 that a 3-4. Therefore, a change to a 3-4 would be a bad idea all around for the Eagles.  Why can't this be so easy like in Madden?

Edit note: Shout out to Udalango for some grammar help!

In This FanPost

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bleeding Green Nation

You must be a member of Bleeding Green Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bleeding Green Nation. You should read them.

Join Bleeding Green Nation

You must be a member of Bleeding Green Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bleeding Green Nation. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.