Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 79

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 79

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
August 8, 2056

Happy British Columbia Day, readers of the Daily Magi and Magi Football Blog. I am Gir Todafunk with another Weekly Column for you wonderful folks to peruse. In this segment, I'll talk a little bit more about the 3-4 defense. In the 3-4, defensive line is made up of a nose tackle (NT) and two defensive ends (DEs). Linemen in 3–4 schemes tend to be larger than their 4–3 counterparts to take up more space and guard more territory along the defensive front. 3–4 defensive ends were usually defensive tackles (DTs) when entering at first. They must be strong at the point of attack and are aligned in most cases head-up on an offensive tackle. First and foremost, they must control run gaps. Size and strength become more of a factor for linemen in 3–4 defenses than in 4–3 defenses because they move primarily within the confines of line play and seldom are in space using athletic ability. Ideally 3–4 DEs should weigh 285–300 pounds (129–140 kg) and be able to beat double teams by getting a push.

The 3–4 nose tackle is considered the most physically demanding position in football. His primary responsibility is to control the "A" gaps, the two openings between the center and guards, and not get pushed back into his linebackers. If a running play comes through one of those gaps, he must make the tackle or control what is called the "jump-through"—the guard or center who is trying to get out to the linebackers. The ideal nose tackle has to be much bigger than 4–3 DTs, weighing around 330 pounds or more. Ted Washington is considered the prototypical nose tackle of this era. "In his prime, Ted Washington was the ideal guy," says an AFC pro personnel director. "He was huge, had long arms, and you couldn't budge him. He could hold off a 320-pound lineman with one hand and make the tackle with the other." Since most college teams run a 4–3 defense, most college DTs are more of a 4–3 tackle than a true nose tackle, which makes good 3–4 NTs hard to find.

The base position of NT is across from the opposing team's center. This location is usually referred to as zero technique. The two DEs flank the NT and line up off the offensive guards. The location off the offensive guard is usually referred to as three technique.

Some 3–4 teams (such as the Pittsburgh Steelers) use the three down linemen primarily to occupy the offensive linemen. In such systems the defensive linemen are assigned two gaps to defend. The NT is responsible for defending plays which occur in the spaces, or gaps, between the center and guards. Each of those spaces is called an A gap. Flanking the NT, DEs defend the gaps on either side of the tackle he lines up across from. Each guard-tackle gap is a B gap and the space outside each tackle is called a C gap. Other 3–4 teams (such as the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys) primarily make each lineman responsible for only one gap.

According to former general manager Randy Mueller, "the 3–4 defensive end is easier to identify and find when it comes to scouting and acquiring personnel," while 4–3 DEs "are rare and hard to find and therefore very expensive to keep. There is no question that speed pass rushers are very much an impact position on the football field and their cap numbers reflect that. On the other hand, 3–4 defensive ends can be found easier and are much less expensive when it comes to 'cap dollars'."

I will continue my spiel on the 3-4 next week. We are getting fired up for our season opener with BYU. Everyone is getting hyped up. I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

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