The 4-3, the 3-4 and 34

Okay, if you have been following the Patriots at all this week you’d realize they were snapping up DEs and DTs like nobody’s business. All of a sudden, the Hoody (Bill Belichick) is seemingly switching to a 4-3, considering they took less than 5% of all defensive snaps from the 4-3 since 2008 that’s pretty ding dang dong ridiculous.

And at the risk of sounding like the homer I am, I have to say “all hail the Hoody”.

Think about it. The Patriots played 3-4 for years. They didn’t do 4-3. Period. So all these offense packages that teams have been dreaming up during the lockout, and you know they were working on those, to go against the Patriots D are all out the window now because to be honest no one really knows what they are going to do.

Okay now that I have everyone thoroughly confused, here’s the deal with the different types of defense. I’ll go over the major differences because if I start having to get into the coverage guys…it’ll make your head spin. We’ll start by explaining the personnel.

Linemen: these are the big guys. In a 3-4 defense, there are 3 lineman: a nose tackle (the biggest and strongest) and two defensive ends (DE) who are on either “end” of the three man line. In the 4-3 defense, there are four linemen. The two big dudes in the middle are called defensive tackles (DT) and are usually referred to as the “left” or “right” DT. Pretty self-explanatory.

Linebackers: they do exactly what their name suggests. The stand in back of the line. These guys are a little smaller and a little faster. In the 3-4 defense, you have four linebackers and they concentrate more on stopping the run and confusing the passer (the quarterback). In the 4-3, there are only three linebackers. Linebackers have several names:

Inside Linebacker (ILB) AKA Middle Linebacker (MLB) AKA “Mike”. These are your guys in the middle of the line of linebackers. This is your boss of the defense, usually the guy yelling to his teammates what the QB is about to do or if a blitz has been called, etc. These guys have to do it all, they have to spy on the quarterback, tackle, block runs up the middle, blitz, or drop back into pass coverage depending on the situation.

Outside Linebacker (OLB) The outside linebacker stands on either end of the line of linebackers. They come in two varieties:

Strongside Linebacker AKA “Sam”. These are your big strong guys in terms of linebackers. They line up on the strong side,

which is the side with the most offensive players.

Weakside Linebackers AKA “Will”. These are your most mobile and your fastest linebackers. They line up on the side with

the least offensive players and often have to drop back into pass coverage.

Now that you know who everyone is, here is how those defenses work.

The 3-4

In the 3-4 you have 3 linemen, they consist of one Nose tackle and 2 DEs. Behind them you have 4 linebackers. This is a defense used by the Steelers, Jets, Dolphins, Redskins, Cowboys and several other teams. This seems to be the “trendy” defensive style at the moment,

The 4-3

In the 4-3, you have 4 linemen. A left DT and a right DT and two DEs. Behind them are 3 linebackers. Currently the Colts, Eagles, Lions and several other teams favor this style of defense.

Now, just because a team prefers one over the other doesn’t mean that is the only defense they do. But count the players when they line up at the line of scrimmage (where the ball is) and you’ll be able to make a good guess at what style of defense they are lining up in.

Back to the Patriots. So why are they changing things up when the rest of the league seems to be going the other way? Why not? If this season has taught me anything so far it is that you can never trust Bill Belichick to do what is expected. Watching them and the Eagles this pre-season, I keep wondering where they are getting all this money from. The Patriots like to get good deals for their players but they’ve always stayed closer to the cap than the stingier teams. And now they are switching the defense all up and have all these new faces I don’t know what the team will look like come Thursday when they take on the Jags for the first preseason game of the year. Football (for real) is ALMOST HERE!

You know what, I might even watch the whole preseason game because I’m so starved for football that I don’t care if I have no idea who is playing and the JV team is out there. It’s football and it’s back.

Switching sports for a moment. I’d like to add something about my very favorite #34 since we’ve been talking about 3-4 and 4-3. David Ortiz had a monster night against the Twinkies (Min Twins) tonight. 4-5 with 3 RBIs and just a triple short of the cycle is no laughing matter, especially since the team arrived in Minnesota around 5 PM due to an extremely late marathon against the Yankees. Papi has been slumping a little since the break, but seems to be coming out of it with a great night tonight and some solid ABs against the Yankees.

Schedule for the week:
Sox vs. Twins 8/9 and 8/10
Sox vs. Mariners 8/12-8/14
Patriots vs. Jags 8/11
Now if only I didn’t have finals, this would be a fantastic week. I gotta go dig out my jerseys because FOOTBALL IS BACK!

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