Monday, July 16, 2007

The Notre Dame Fighting Patriots

Notre Dame has a new defensive coordinator for their opener against GT. Corwin Brown was a defensive back for Bill Parcells back in the mid-90's. He was a fair to middlin' defensive back, but has gone on to be a secondary coach for Parcells, Belichick and Mangini. Like all coaches from the Parcells tree, his defense plays a 3-4, which is very uncommon in major college football.

The 3-4 D has the following characteristics:

- There are 3 defensive lineman (DL) and 4 linebackers (LBs).
- The primary function of the DL is to protect the LBs and play the run. Each defensive lineman is responsible for 2 gaps.
- The pass rush is generated by the 3-4 OLBs. On almost every play, 1 of the OLBs will rush the QB. The OLBs are standing up.

Negatives of a 3-4 defense:

1. How will Tashard Choice gain his yards? Right over the center. What the defense gains in quickness and deception, it gives up in weight. If the NT can not hold his ground, the defense is very vulnerable to runs between the tackles.
2. If the 3-4 OLBs are unable to consistently apply pressure on the QB, the D is very vulnerable in the passing game. The aggressiveness up front puts tremendous pressure on the secondary. No matter how disruptive the front seven are, the corners and safeties have to do a good job in coverage. I would expect to see GT throw the ball a lot against ND, and ND won’t be successful playing the 3-4 defense unless the defensive backs can keep the offense from making big gains on pass plays. If we have WR's that can play at this level, they should have big days.
3. It's tough for a 3-4 DE to pick up as many sacks as a 4-3 DE, because a 3-4 DE doesn't have the freedom to go recklessly upfield. He has to protect the LBs.

What are the advantages of the 3-4 defense?

The offense does not know which of the 2 OLBs is going to rush the QB, as both of the OLBs are standing. This creates the following advantages:

1. It's harder for the offensive linemen to correctly determine their blocking assignments before the snap and execute. The 3-4 defense is the poster boy for flexibility. The strength of this defense is the number of speedy athletes you can put on the field at the same time.
2. Lateral quickness. The additional LB's cut off the edges of the field on a consistent basis.
3. It puts more mental pressure on the QB. The defense is so versatile that you could be in what appears to be a 5-2 defense because you have so many similar players that can do the same thing. You have endless combinations that you can zone blitz. You get the impression that their calling defensive plays out of a hat.

My advice for Taylor Bennett: watch the AFC title game this year between the Colts and Pats and watch the playoff game this year when the Pats beat the Chargers. The Chargers played a lot of 3-4 with superior athletes.