Originally posted by jrg:
Not a chance we switch to 4-3
I agree. We've had too much success with the 3-4 to switch, although we have the personnel to go base 4-3 if we wanted.
Sometimes it is a good idea to switch schemes just to stay ahead of the competition. For instance, if the majority of the league started playing 3-4, you could switch to 4-3 and have less competition in acquiring players who fit the defense.
The coaches have always described our defense as being "multiple". I think we've made a conscious effort to get players who could play in both 3-4 and 4-3. Aldon and Ahmad could easily switch to DE. Ray and Justin could easily shift inside to play DT. Dorsey looks like he could play the 5, 3, or 1 technique. Bowman would be a beastly weak-side linebacker. We have the freedom to do what we want defensively.
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The way teams are differentiated in the NFL between 3-4 and 4-3 is typically whether they employ a nose tackle and how many guys have their hands on the ground. Obviously the differences go beyond this, and most teams are very multiple, but it's a simplistic designation.
I think people overstate the differences between the two fronts, and the 4-3 Under article above is an example of why. We use a very similar front to what Seattle uses, but Aldon doesn't put his hand on the ground as often as Clemons does, so we're called a 3-4 team and they're called a 4-3 team.
It's far more informative to look at the roles of the individual positions within our defense than it is to simply state we're a 3-4 team. There are tons of variations within the 4-3 that are more like a 3-4 and vice versa.
Another key point is that we need our DLs to be able to play 3-tech and 5-tech. This is why we've had success with smaller, more athletic DLs than those used by a lot of 3-4 teams. Our guys need to be able to thrive in one-gap and two-gap situations.
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