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4-3 does not necessarily equal one-gap!

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Isaac, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. Isaac

    Isaac Rookie

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    With the Patriots using a lot of the 4-3 front against the Jets, the common misconception that the alignment tells you the gap philosophy has risen its ugly head. It is true that in most defenses a 4-3 equals a one gap and a 3-4 equals a two gap, but not necessarily. In fact, the Patriots DL were playing a two-gap 4-3 against the Jets, as they usually do! It seems that some on this board and elsewhere think that by using the 4-3 the Patriots are playing the same one-gap 4-3 that is common throughout the league.

    If they were playing a one-gap 4-3, what BB calls a college 4-3, we would have seen DL avoiding contact with the OL, penetrating into the backfield, ends racing around tackles, who knows, maybe even some stunts and spin moves---there was virtually none of that. The DL took on the OL directly, playing two-gap technique. Of course there are always a few exceptions, BB's defense are never so simple, but the fundamentals of our defense are usually not changed between a 3-4 and 4-3. BB has said in press conferences that when they substitute a DL for LB, the responsibilities of the other 10 guys don't change much (of course there are some subtle yet important differences---I'd love to hear from some of the real experts around here about these).

    The only exception that I'm aware of was Super Bowl 39, in which the Patriots played a one-gap 4-3, actually using a 2-5 with LBs serving as the DEs (anyone aware of any other times BB Patriots' have played the one-gap 4-3 extensively?). This had to be one of the most radical coaching moves in the history of football, to use an unfamiliar philosophy and associated techniques in the penultimate game. This also had to be one of the worst blunders in media history because the announcers never mentioned it once! The media generally missed the radical move, probably because they made this same mistake---they are used to the Patriots changing alignments/fronts and miss the point that gap responsibilities are a far more significant change in defensive philosophy.

    I don't mean to dismiss the use of 4 DLs by the Patriots, I think it is a very interesting trend, but it is relatively minor in comparison to a shift from the two-gap to the one-gap, which would be a radical change.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2006
  2. Kasmir

    Kasmir Rookie

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    Quite true. When Chuck Fairbanks introduced the 3-4 as a base defense into the NFL in 1974. it was a 1-gap 3-4! Ray Hamilton was a 245lb NT -- probably equivalent to about 275lbs in today's NFL -- and he was always stunting on the snap, usually with ILB's Steve Nelson or Sam Hunt. Hamilton would never have survived in a 2-gap role.

    BTW, Bum Phillips simultaneously introduced the 3-4 in 1974 in Houston, using the great Curly Culp as his NT. I don't recall whethe it was 1-gap or 2-gap, but even though Culp was at the end of his career, he probably could have played either technique.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2006
  3. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I haven't seen the replay yet, does anyone know what the packages were like ?

    Was Wright the 4th DL on early downs with Green replacing him on passing downs ?

    How about the Bruschi/Seau split and were they in together much ?

    I agree with the post, btw, except the SB 39 really was a 4-3, not a 2-5, they just used two OLB as DE to get more speed on the field.
  4. Isaac

    Isaac Rookie

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    Interesting stuff, thanks for the history. My hope is that BB will write a 3-volume set on the history of football after he retires (with a few more rings). Either that or become Secretary of Defense under the Brady administration.

    A related question is which teams, if any, are playing a one-gap 3-4 these days? I think the Chargers do, but I could be wrong.
  5. Isaac

    Isaac Rookie

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    Yes, that's what I meant to say...
  6. Clonamery

    Clonamery PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    WFAN radio was interviewing Bobby Hamilton after the game and to summarise he basically said they were expecting the Pats to play something other than the 3-4 and that they were playing a 4-3 2 gap.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2006
  7. braveht

    braveht Rookie

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    Culp was also quite 'light', more than 100lb < Ted Washington... and usually referred to as the Nose Guard not tackle, but strong and fast. Thought that was what Klecko was going to be.
  8. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    This discussion about the Patriots not playing a 'standard' 4-3 or 3-4 is very pertinent.

    A 'classic' 4-3 as referred to as a 1-gap system has the 4 DL lined up in the gaps between the 5 OLmen.
    A 'classic' 3-4 as referred to as a 2-gap system has the NT lined up over the center and the two DEs lined up over the OTs.

    The first defensive play of the Jets game is a perfect example of how the Patriots system is anything but classic. The Jets went with a 2 TE set. The Patriots lined up as a 4-3, not in ANY gaps, but nose on:
    LOLB on RTE
    LDE on ROT
    LDT on ROG
    OC and gaps to either side of him uncovered !!
    RDT on LOG
    RDE on LOT
    ROLB on LTE

    The Jets put a tight slot receiver on their left side in motion. As he went in motion, the Pats LOLB pulled off of the LOS to cover the receiver coming in motion. The LDE shifted slightly to take on the RTE instead of the ROG !! AS the ball is snapped, LDE takes on RTE, LDT takes on ROG, RDT takes on LOG, RDE (Semour) drops slightly to bump LTE coming out and ROLB (Colvin) seals LOT. Seymour is left free to essentially act as an ILB. LDE (Warren) lets LTE slip off and chases Pennington leaving Seymour coming across to pick up the LTE.

    Now how's that for 'un'classic ?? Fascinating.
  9. Kasmir

    Kasmir Rookie

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    They were initially call Nose Guards in reference to the (Bud Wilkinson) "Oklahoma" 5-2, which had two "stand up" defensive ends, two tackles, and a guard on the nose. But with the popularization of the 3-4 in the NFL, it was quickly morphed to being termed two DEs flanking an "NT" not an "NG". But it was the same position.

    I can't find rosters online for those years, but if memory serves me, Culp was significantly bigger than Hamilton. Also remember that everyone was much smaller then. There were next to no 300lbers in the league then (remember Sherman Plunkett?). That's why I estimate Hamiltons 245lbs to be more like 275lbs today.

    And I agree that Klecko's only chance is as a "3-technique" DT. Maybe Indy will use him that way. And I still recall Koppen saying that Klecko was the best lineman he faced in college...
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2006

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