Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some Saturday Scheme Talk


Let's talk about the 3-4 defense today.  Sean McDermott said in the Eagles Chalk Talk the other day that he may use it from time to time in 2010.  I don't recall us running a true 3-4 look at all last year.  I could be off on that, but nothing comes to mind.

People have a habit of mistaking a 3-man defensive line for a 3-4.  We use a 3-man line on a regular basis.  It is part of our Nickel and Dime packages.  The most common version is a 3-3-5 look we use.  That is 3 linemen, 3 linebackers, and 5 defensive backs. 

Why mix in some 3-4?  Basically, to give opposing QBs something else to have to deal with.  Throw an odd look at the QB in a key game and see if you can catch him off guard.  The Saints played a lot of 3-4 in the Super Bowl.  It didn't stop the Colts or Peyton Manning.  He still went 31-45-333.  The weird look did affect him.  He only threw one TD and the Colts only scored 17 points.  Clearly the Saints offense had a lot to do with that game because of their ability to sustain drives and keep Manning on the sideline.  Still, that defense wasn't what Peyton had planned for.  He focused on the Saints 4-3 base D.  Peyton is good enough as a QB to keep the chains moving when caught off guard, but 432 yards of offense only led to 17 points.  The 3-4 scheme had something to do with that.

Before you focus on the fact it was the 3-4 remember that the game before Peyton had shredded the Jets #1 defense and their 3-4 scheme.  He was 26-39-377 with 3 TDs and 30 points.  Peyton studied their game tape thoroughly and wasn't caught as off-guard.

The point isn't to run a 3-4 necessarily, but rather to mix up what you do.  We run a base 4-3 defense.  We do a lot of exotic stuff in Nickel and Dime packages.  The one way left for us to get creative is to adjust the base with some 3-4 looks.

How will we line up?  We can only guess at this point.  Here's a possible line-up:

RE  Brodrick Bunkley
NT  Antonio Dixon
LE  Trevor Laws
ROLB  Trent Cole
RILB  Moise Fokou
LILB  Stewart Bradley
LOLB  Juqua Parker (or Brandon Graham)

Dixon has the size and strength to be a good NT.  Bunk is athletic enough to push the pocket.  Laws played 3-4 DE as a Senior in college.  We could use Patt or Bunk at NT if wanted.  Abiamiri, if healthy, would be a good DE. 

Cole, Parker, and Graham would be the primary pass rushers.  They are athletic enough to drop back and cover as well.  You can't have the LBs rush upfield on every play.  You have to keep the QB guessing.

Bradley is clearly fine for ILB.  I put Fokou in the other spot.  I'm not sure Ernie Sims would be a good fit for ILB.  We could also put Akeem Jordan, Omar Gaither, or Joe Mays in that spot. 


I need to write out a long post on the new offense.  There is a lot to consider.  We know the Eagles offense of Donovan McNabb as the QB.  We've seen Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg mix things up with different QBs on the field.  The question that we face this time around is what they will do with Kevin Kolb running the show.  He's not McNabb, but he is the chosen starter.  Other QBs were on the field due to injuries.  That forced the offense to change.  With Kolb as the starting QB by design we don't know what kind of an attack we'll see.

Anyone hoping for a significant change is going to be disappointed.  Andy and Marty are passing coaches.  We have a great set of pass catchers.  We will throw the ball.  That said, I do hold some hope that we will be more balanced.  I'll get into that more in the long post.

One thing to keep in mind in regard to the upcoming will be a learning experience for the players, coaches, fans, and media.  The playbook will basically be the same, but the plays that we focus on will change somewhat.  And Kolb's execution of a given play will be different from McNabb.  Think of different musicians playing a set of notes.  Each guy will put his spin on things.  The sheet music doesn't change, but the music will sure sound different. 


RE:  Vick trade?

Not likely.  I"m hearing real good things about Mike.  He looks completely different than he did last season.  Spending a year as part of a football team is apparently a better way to prepare than being at a half-way house.  We do need a quality backup QB.  It sounds like Vick has that role for 2010.  It is possible to deal him and then sign a vet QB to replace him.  I'm not so sure that's likely.  I don't think any team will give up much compensation for Vick.  That could change if he looks great in the preseason, but don't count on it.  Big Red loves his QBs.  He's only going to deal Vick if someone makes us a strong offer.  I don't anticipate that happening.

RE:  3-4 NT...have to be big?

We can be creative with our 4-3 looks.  Dallas used Jay Ratliff at NT and he's nothing like most of the big guys.  We could try any number of guys.  The closest thing we have to Ratliff in terms of size, build, and skill set is probably Victor.  And he has the mentality to be solid at NT for a limited amount of snaps per game.

I'm hearing that Daniel Te'o-Nesheim will play mostly DT this year in the Nickel and Dime.  He also could maybe get NT snaps in certain looks.  Teo certainly has the toughness and motor to hand the job.  I know some of you will focus on the lack of size.  When you mix in a special defensive package you don't need players with  standard size and a normal skill set.  After all, your goal is usually to do something different.  Remember, we're talking about mixing in some 3-4.  Could be 2 or 3 snaps or maybe 15-20.  This isn't the base defense that will be on the field for 30-40 snaps.


Cliff said...

I think the 3-4, especially in Philly, enjoys the "grass is always greener" mindset. I foresee it being a topic of conversation among fans until the day a D.C. actually comes here and switches us.

Jason said...


Every time we play a 3-4 team, I read or hear someone talking about how it is hard for us to play against because it confuses offenses and all that, but I am curious about what are the disadvantages? Is it easier to run against because you only have 3 dlineman? Is it a more complex D for defensive players to understand? Does the 4-3 provide advantages in the pass D? I'm just curious because I have never heard it discussed, but I am sure there must be some advantages and some disadvantages or else every team would run it.

So Cal EaglesFan said...

I am not an expert or claim to know as much as Tommy but from my knowledge, there are a couple of advantages and disadvantages to both. For the 3-4 it is easier to disguise who is coming and who is dropping back into coverage for the front 7 since only 3 men are down and generally two are standing up with most cases one coming with the other dropping back. They could also have an ilb rush with both olb dropping back causing confusion as to whom to call the Mike for the qb. A couple of disadvantages to a 4-3 are that the NT if he is not good at occupying blockers and beating constant double teams you will be destroyed in the run game since the NT is supposed to eat up blockers for the linebackers to run to the ball free. Another disadvantage compared to the 4-3 is that in the 3-4 the DE's on the outside are generally a lot bigger than 4-3 des and thus most likely less athletic and more of run stuffers than pass rush threats. They like the NT occupy blockers for the 4 lb's to get to the ball.

In regards to the 4-3, the advantages for the dt's is that you can't double both of them so one will always have a one v one matchup. Also, the de's are bigger threats to get to the qb on every down as opposed to DE's in a 34. A disadvantage to running the 4-3 is that it is a little bit more difficult to disguise who is coming and dropping back without sacrificing pass coverage slightly if you do a zone blitz since in most occations 4-3 des are not good at dropping back into coverage since they do not do it as much as 3-4 olbs do. Hope that helps and I am sure Tommy will help answer that question better than I could.

Prem Prakash said...

re: Vick Trade

Not only does Big Red love his qbs, he also loves his tricks and gadgets. I'm preparing for a lot of the wildcat this year.

One thing that might be interesting is to put Kolb and Vick on the field at the same time. Kevin takes the snap with Mike split wide. If Vick gets the ball he could run or pass.

Cliff said...

One of the things that frustrated me last season was the lack of passing plays given to Vick. I knew why - he just wasn't ready - but I kept thinking, how the hell are we going to trade him in the off-season if nobody knows if he can play QB?

So it's encouraging to hear that Mike is playing well. If y'all remember back to the summer before he was brought up on dog fighting charges, ALL the off-season reports indicated this was "Vick's breakout year" as a passer. Everyone talked about how he was getting good QB coaching and had a much better understanding of the playbook. The rest was history...

Pitmanite said...

scheme matters, but it always comes down to having playmakers on your defense. you see 3-4 teams and 4-3 teams both having success, but the common trait you see on all those defenses is playmakers.

i really care what we run, we just need guys who can make plays. i think we're moving in the right direction with the moves we made this offseason and i'm excited to see how some of these young guys play.