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Author Topic: Primary Defense: 43 or 34?  (Read 594 times)
jonzr
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« on: Jan 07, 2008 at 21:40 »

Is this the year the Steelers switch over?  Or would they prefer to play both styles, going from a four man front to a three man front?  Do they have the athletes to do both at this point?  IMO, they need another 43 DE and another general DT who could play either 34 DE or 43 DT.  

Woodley can do the 43 DE or 34 OLB, we've seen this.  But how many of the current 34 DEs could play 43 DE?  They would likely be suitable for 43 DT, but are they that stout?  

I'd like to see a four man line with another monster DT alongside Hampton.  

Currently they could put Woodley and Keisel on the outside.  Hell, Smith and Hampton on the inside would work for me.  There's your 4 man line.  Would Smith be an effective 43 DE?

Seems like there are plenty of LBs to go around at this point.  Who's to say Timmons wouldn't be an excellent OLB in the 43?

Man, it's gonna be a long offseason.


 
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Puma170
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« Reply #1 on: Jan 08, 2008 at 08:31 »

Quote
Man, it's gonna be a long offseason.
That is very true.  

I think that drafting Woodley and Timmons signaled that at least they are going to go with a hybrid of the two in the coming season.  Tomlin said all that right things regarding Lebeau and the 34 but I have a gut feeling that his passion is the 43 and based on the leaky run defense at the end of the season he will try to incorporate more that in the coming season.  

Just my hunch,
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 08, 2008 at 10:34 »

We've run both fronts the past few years, though the Okie has been our base.  I think we've utilized more 40 fronts on 3rd down passing, with Hamp coming out and Kirschke and whoever coming in.  

What I'd like to see is expanding that so that the defense isn't so rigidly determined by down and distance: mix some 40s in on early downs, and even go to some variant of the 3-4 on 3rd and longs.  The reason I think we can shift the 3-4 and 4-3 with more ease than in the past is that some guys we are drafting now are more multiple position guys.  Woodley is a great example: a 3-4 OLB, he could easily be a 4-3 rush end.

Timmons has been oft-criticized, but if he pans out, he'd be a great 4-3 MLB and could play either ILB spot in the 3-4, or even occasionally take the one OLB spot a la Harrison.

Aaron Smith could be a DE or a DT in the 40.  Keisel might be better as a 4-3 end than a 3-4 end, and I still think he could play some OLB.

I think we need to cross-train the most versatile players and then have them switch positions.  Think of how Polamalu bobs around at the line: sure, that gives some different looks, you don't know if he's dropping or rushing, and not sure from where he might rush.  But consider the confusion if you are lining up against Woodley in the 3-4 base, where he's LOLB, and then suddenly you're lining up against him and there's someone shooting outside uncovered because Wood's now a 4-3 DE.  Like this:

First down, 3-4 base

LOLB: Woodley     LDE: A. Smith     NT: Hampton     RDE: Keisel     ROLB: Harrison
LILB: Timmons/Farrior     RILB: Foote    
LCB: Taylor     SS: Polamalu     FS: Clark/Smith     RCB: Townshend

Second down, shift to 4-3

LOLB: Haggans/whoever     LDE: Woodley     UT: A. Smith     NT: Hampton     RDE: Keisel     ROLB: Harrison
MLB: Timmons    
LCB: Taylor      SS: Polamalu     FS: Clark/Smith     RCB: Townshend

Basically, you're swapping out an ILB for an extra OLB.  Now, this won't go unnoticed by the QB or OL, but say Woodley's lining up against the RT.  Haggans or whoever the LOLB is would have the flexibility to line up way outside and then cheat closer and closer, so when the ball is snapped he can try to loop outside the RT.  Or, the LOLB could try to duck back off the line and get lost back with the MLB, and shoot an interior gap.  Or Woodley and Haggans could swap spots, and confuse the coverage.  You could even have your ROLB Harrison and LDE Woodley change spots, so the QB would think that's the only chicanery.  

So let's say the above results in a 3rd and 6.  Teams would beat us most efficiently by the short pass, a la Brady to Welker.  The best way to counter the soft spots in the 3-4 and the fast underneath stuff is to take that underneath away with speed.

Third down, nickel, expecting slants and flats

LDE: Woodley     NT: Hampton    RDE: Keisel

LOLB: Farrior/whoever     MLB: Foote     ROLB: Timmons

LCB: Taylor      SS: Polamalu     NB: McFadden/Gay     FS: Clark/Smith     RCB: Townshend

A few salient points.  First, I'm keeping Hampton in.  I know he sits on passing downs, but if the pass breaks down and the offense runs, I'd rather have the NT than any of our backup DL.  Second, I'm replacing slower, bigger OLBs by smaller, faster ILBs.  Farrior may be getting older, but he's faster than Haggans.  Third, I'm keeping the OLBs back, not right up on the line, maybe closer to the MLB.  I want the LBs roaming the middle zones, ready to shoot the gaps between the DL or to cover.

Also, in this formation, you don't have the zone issues that you do with the 3-4 that require the CBs to play off.  Basically, the CB in the 3-4 has to give up a cushion, because coverage breakdown comes when the WR gets behind you or inside you.  Allowing a man behind you means the FS might be responsible for two zones on opposite sides of the field.  Something like this, you can line up your DBs and ILBs depending on what the offense presents, play man and keep a couple in deep zone.  If backs or ends stay in to max protect, the ILBs have the option to shark the under for a pick, or look for gaps.  

Basically, I think we've done a lot of this before, but it's been a case of Kirschke replacing Hampton, and more traditional nickel replacements.  If our LBs are athletic tweeners, I don't see why they can't cover multiple assignments and really confuse other teams.  And I'm not fond of the OLBs dropping into coverage, so if we're playing nickel, use ILBs on the outside.
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 08, 2008 at 16:11 »

Stick with what they been doin'.

It might be up...it might be down, but it's usually up more often than it's down.

And, get better, Ryan.  This team will need you.
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jonzr
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« Reply #4 on: Jan 08, 2008 at 17:52 »

AJ, I'm with you to an extent.  But in recent years it seems that later in the season other teams figure out the D.  Seems like they're more leaky towards the end of the year.

I like your thinking, finny.  Big Snack should be on the field as much as possible, but there will have to be times for him to sit out and suck some air.  But certainly not every 3rd down.

It seems like with the FAs we have coming up, it might the opportunity to switch to a different base, particularly considering the HC's philosophy on D.  Who's to say Lebeau can't run whatever the hell kinda D he needs to?  But then, as Tomlin said, Big Dick Lebeau is Big Dick Lebeau.  Everybody knows Big Dick.  He might defer to the defensive jedi until such time as he decides to retire.  

The draft will be telling.  So will whatever 2nd rate FA they sign.
 
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 09, 2008 at 01:59 »

Not that the Tribune Review hasn't been wrong before, but according to the article I just read Haggans is gone. His agent was quoted as saying he's history.

So I guess the question about Woodley starting is no longer a question.

I'm not a Haggans fan but I was kind of hoping he'd stay for backup money and give us depth.

I'm skeptical about him succeeding in another system. His last couple of years were mediocre (at best).  
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 09, 2008 at 05:21 »

Bastard is headed to New England to polish Bruschi's rings...or was his balls.

Or both.  
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