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Why so many teams are switching to the 3-4 and what it means for the Panthers

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Basically it's all the fault of Urban Meyer.

Well, no, not really, but Meyer has done quite a bit to popularize the spread offense in college football. For the uninitiated, the concept of the spread offense is to try to confuse the defense, or take advantage of athletic disparity. For example, there are far more wide receivers coming out of high school that can thrive in the spread than there are corners that can defend it. The idea is that a team's 4th wide receiver is better than the defenses dime back, and it has obviously held true.

Defenses have since adjusted. Defensive linemen coming into college are more valued for their speed than size. Of course, there are natural physical exceptions, but more and more defensive ends are being taught to beat tackles around the edge, DTs are being taught to shoot gaps, etc. This is just the natural reaction to how things operate.

Now let's go back to a dark, cold, stormy night in the 2003 playoffs. The colts offensive juggernaut was embarrassed by a patriots defense that talent wise was far inferior, especially in the secondary, but made up for it by completely mauling the Colts receivers. Everyone remembers that game.

Bill Polian, basically the supreme ruler of the competition committee, began reshaping the rules for defenses, obviously in an attempt to help his own franchise quarterback. They decreased the amount of yards a corner could press a wide receiver without being called for an illegal contact, and shifted the pass interference rules widely in the favor of the receiver.

On top of that, rules about hitting quarterbacks were drastically altered to protect the player. There are two reasons for this. The first is that quarterbacks are generally the face of the league, and injuries to them, more than anything, can completely destroy a team's year. Goodell is a businessman, and he knows this.

The second reason is that Trent Green almost died on the field. Well, not him specifically, but the rules to protect quarterbacks are necessary and honestly overdue. In the sixties, linebackers and quarterbacks were roughly the same size. It was also a much less accurate league. Now, quarterbacks are generally immobile, 6'5 targets depending on the proper function of like six very fragile ligaments to operate their offenses, while linebackers are 6'5, 240 pound mutants who run 4.5 40s.

So now that you have quarterbacks defenders are loathe to hit and wide receivers that can come out of their cut five yards earlier, you have the rise of complicated wr formations designed to confuse offenses and take advantage of talent differentials while doing so before a standard defense has any hope of disrupting the quarterback.

Speed has become the name of the game.

Teams are shifting to the 3-4 to counter this and to take advantage of the surplus of talent coming out of the college ranks. As far as players, 4-3 college ends are converted to 3-4 OLBs, 4-3 DTs are shifted to 3-4 DTs, SLB become ILB, etc. A 3-4 also gives you more creativity in theory. Instead of overwhelming a team with brute force, you can confuse them with speed. You have far more linebackers (the defensive position most inundated with talent) who can just go blitz happy. Now that these linebackers are also able to run with running backs, well, yeah.

Now here are the Panthers, a 4-3 that seems quite happy just to stick to their roots. Fox has always been a 4-3 guy and always will be, but there's always been one thing Fox's defenses have done: gotten chewed up over the middle and underneath. Why is this? Because it's the plan. And it has worked.

If you watch the way the Panthers play defense, they completely change once a team reaches their own twenty. Plays between twenties are opportunities for turn overs and for the other team to make a mistake. Corners use outside leverage to force wide receivers over the middle, where a traditionally shit ruining safety is ready to make their day awful (mcree, harris, minter, etc). They never get beat deep, and once they get in close to the end zone, where the field is smaller and there's less room for exotic routes, then they exert their force where they're strongest: the back seven.

So, to recap, we have numerous offenses transitioning to a spread style that emphasizing taking advantage of complex routes to confuse the defense and break big long running plays. QBs are having great success simply being accurate with the ball. Essentially offenses, due to rule and player changes, are shifting into a style that fits perfectly into what the Panthers want them to do. Pass all the time. Pass as much as you want. Go nuts between the twenties. Every pass is a chance for a batted ball, a fumble, a jacked up moment, and occasionally a missed block. We'll see you at the twenty, where Reggie Bush isn't going to overpower anyone. (speaking of, this is why the Panthers traditionally do so well against the Saints passing game).

But Fiz, if there are more players coming out that are fit for the 3-4, doesn't that mean there will be fewer players for the 4-3? In theory, yes, but remember in the nineties teams like the steelers made killings drafting players that didn't fit other team's 4-3. Numerous veterans will be jetted after the draft and training camp that fit our defense perfectly, and that's when the Panthers will pounce. Furthermore, there's no telling what slow 3-4 end that freefalls next friday and saturday is actually a perfect fit at UT for the Panthers.

Now what does this mean for the Panthers offense?











































[b]YOU CAN GOUGE 3-4 TEAMS WITH THE RUN MUAHAHAHAHA[/b]

now of course there are lots of exceptions to all of these rules and I'm just outlining a general trend and not hard and fast rules to live by. But whatever I was just thinking about this so I decided to write it. Now I'm going to go back this totally hot chick lying in my bed and maybe grill a steak i dunno
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[quote name='Fiz']Basically it's all the fault of Urban Meyer.

Well, no, not really, but Meyer has done quite a bit to popularize the spread offense in college football. For the uninitiated, the concept of the spread offense is to try to confuse the defense, or take advantage of athletic disparity. For example, there are far more wide receivers coming out of high school that can thrive in the spread than there are corners that can defend it. The idea is that a team's 4th wide receiver is better than the defenses dime back, and it has obviously held true.

Defenses have since adjusted. Defensive linemen coming into college are more valued for their speed than size. Of course, there are natural physical exceptions, but more and more defensive ends are being taught to beat tackles around the edge, DTs are being taught to shoot gaps, etc. This is just the natural reaction to how things operate.

Now let's go back to a dark, cold, stormy night in the 2003 playoffs. The colts offensive juggernaut was embarrassed by a patriots defense that talent wise was far inferior, especially in the secondary, but made up for it by completely mauling the Colts receivers. Everyone remembers that game.

Bill Polian, basically the supreme ruler of the competition committee, began reshaping the rules for defenses, obviously in an attempt to help his own franchise quarterback. They decreased the amount of yards a corner could press a wide receiver without being called for an illegal contact, and shifted the pass interference rules widely in the favor of the receiver.

On top of that, rules about hitting quarterbacks were drastically altered to protect the player. There are two reasons for this. The first is that quarterbacks are generally the face of the league, and injuries to them, more than anything, can completely destroy a team's year. Goodell is a businessman, and he knows this.

The second reason is that Trent Green almost died on the field. Well, not him specifically, but the rules to protect quarterbacks are necessary and honestly overdue. In the sixties, linebackers and quarterbacks were roughly the same size. It was also a much less accurate league. Now, quarterbacks are generally immobile, 6'5 targets depending on the proper function of like six very fragile ligaments to operate their offenses, while linebackers are 6'5, 240 pound mutants who run 4.5 40s.

So now that you have quarterbacks defenders are loathe to hit and wide receivers that can come out of their cut five yards earlier, you have the rise of complicated wr formations designed to confuse offenses and take advantage of talent differentials while doing so before a standard defense has any hope of disrupting the quarterback.

Speed has become the name of the game.

Teams are shifting to the 3-4 to counter this and to take advantage of the surplus of talent coming out of the college ranks. As far as players, 4-3 college ends are converted to 3-4 OLBs, 4-3 DTs are shifted to 3-4 DTs, SLB become ILB, etc. A 3-4 also gives you more creativity in theory. Instead of overwhelming a team with brute force, you can confuse them with speed. You have far more linebackers (the defensive position most inundated with talent) who can just go blitz happy. Now that these linebackers are also able to run with running backs, well, yeah.

Now here are the Panthers, a 4-3 that seems quite happy just to stick to their roots. Fox has always been a 4-3 guy and always will be, but there's always been one thing Fox's defenses have done: gotten chewed up over the middle and underneath. Why is this? Because it's the plan. And it has worked.

If you watch the way the Panthers play defense, they completely change once a team reaches their own twenty. Plays between twenties are opportunities for turn overs and for the other team to make a mistake. Corners use outside leverage to force wide receivers over the middle, where a traditionally shit ruining safety is ready to make their day awful (mcree, harris, minter, etc). They never get beat deep, and once they get in close to the end zone, where the field is smaller and there's less room for exotic routes, then they exert their force where they're strongest: the back seven.

So, to recap, we have numerous offenses transitioning to a spread style that emphasizing taking advantage of complex routes to confuse the defense and break big long running plays. QBs are having great success simply being accurate with the ball. Essentially offenses, due to rule and player changes, are shifting into a style that fits perfectly into what the Panthers want them to do. Pass all the time. Pass as much as you want. Go nuts between the twenties. Every pass is a chance for a batted ball, a fumble, a jacked up moment, and occasionally a missed block. We'll see you at the twenty, where Reggie Bush isn't going to overpower anyone. (speaking of, this is why the Panthers traditionally do so well against the Saints passing game).

But Fiz, if there are more players coming out that are fit for the 3-4, doesn't that mean there will be fewer players for the 4-3? In theory, yes, but remember in the nineties teams like the steelers made killings drafting players that didn't fit other team's 4-3. Numerous veterans will be jetted after the draft and training camp that fit our defense perfectly, and that's when the Panthers will pounce. Furthermore, there's no telling what slow 3-4 end that freefalls next friday and saturday is actually a perfect fit at UT for the Panthers.

Now what does this mean for the Panthers offense?











































[b]YOU CAN GOUGE 3-4 TEAMS WITH THE RUN MUAHAHAHAHA[/b]

now of course there are lots of exceptions to all of these rules and I'm just outlining a general trend and not hard and fast rules to live by. But whatever I was just thinking about this so I decided to write it. Now I'm going to go back this totally hot chick lying in my bed and maybe grill a steak i dunno[/QUOTE]

We've always had pretty decent success agast the 3-4, so that's not surprising.







Yeah I just did that.

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pic of the chick? typefuckeat.

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but fiz what does it mean about corners?

Well there's no one in the world that better exemplifies the rules changes than Ricky Manning Jr. As soon as he was no longer able to simply mug people for ten yards he became a massive liability. Corners are now drafted on their ability to run with a receiver and make a play for the ball while it's in the air. There's no point in having a corner whos game revolves around jamming for ten yards when you can only jam for 5. This is also part of the reason I think teams are overlooking Richard Marshall, someone who excels in the Panthers system but would be wasted trying to run down the field.

So smaller, faster, lighter defensive backs all over the field? Yeah DeAngelo and Jonathan will never be brought down past the linebackers in their career.

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I'm not going to lie Fiz I usually hate you, but this is a great post

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I still hate you though

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Nice write up.
And proof if you employ an old dog long enough, eventually he'll come back in style.

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holy shit how much time do you have on your hands? nice writeup, i've always thought the argument that if the panthers remain a running team in an increasingly passing league they'll fail is complete horseshit. if defenses are geared to stop the pass, than the teams that can run will truck them.
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Nice write up Fiz.

But, more importantly,

Where are the pics of this alleged Hot Chick?

:D

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[quote name='Pantha-San']Nice write up Fiz.

But, more importantly,

Where are the pics of this alleged Hot Chick?

:D[/QUOTE]

right [url=http://www.carolinahuddle.com/forum/carolina-panthers/34504-why-so-many-teams-are-switching-to-the-3-4-and-what-it-means-for-the-panthers.html#post2461493]here[/url]

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[quote name='Fiz']I still hate you though[/QUOTE]

ahhhh now thats the old Fiz I know and love

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Nice post, Fiz. First worthwhile read I've had on here in a LONG time.

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[quote name='PhillyB']holy shit how much time do you have on your hands? nice writeup, i've always thought the argument that if the panthers remain a running team in an increasingly passing league they'll fail is complete horseshit. if defenses are geared to stop the pass, than the teams that can run will truck them.[/QUOTE]

only problem i ever see is that with a team with a run game can be stopped 2 ways while a passing game only one way. a running game can be stopped by a good run defense or by being outscored early in the game. passing game the only way to stop it is get to the qb. sitting back in zone will get you picked apart by the better teams in the league.

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I was beginning to wonder what happened to Fiz.

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good read.

the biggest weakness in this theory is a soft defense that allows the team to trail by multiple scores later in the games. running the ball takes time off the clock, but also makes drives to score require more time.

this is why you need a decent QB to close that gap when needed. this is the same reason why in 2003 Jake led the league in 4th quarter comebacks and wins; he had to. the system worked as designed then, and can do so again with even more success if the pieces fit.

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Fiz is so cute when he uses his powers for good.

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nice read asshole lmao.

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i only clicked it once.

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Very well written and you make some good points.

The spread offense is often derided by pro coaches publicly, but they are adopting it quite a bit. And Fiz is exactly right, they've felt they had to to make the most of both the rule changes and the college product they end up working with.

Also remember that those over the middle passes our 4-3 encourages aren't just chances at interceptions (most of which we make near the sidelines, strangely enough) but they are also slower plays to develop giving our D-line more time to develop penetration. The plays often also require that a TE or RB move in to clear out the middle of the field to make some space for the bigger play, removing one more potential blocker on the offensive side.

And as a note on our offensive success against the 3-4s... we've been greatly helped by having monstrous tackles, blocking tight ends, one of the best blocking fullbacks and running backs who will do more than chip a linebacker.

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This is def the most epic post of the off-season.

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[quote name='Panthers8192']I'm not going to lie Fiz I usually hate you, but this is a great post[/QUOTE]

[quote name='Kevin Greene']Nice write up.
And proof if you employ an old dog long enough, eventually he'll come back in style.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='PhillyB']nice writeup[/QUOTE]

[quote name='Pantha-San']Nice write up Fiz.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='Panthers8192']ahhhh now thats the old Fiz I know and love[/QUOTE]

[quote name='Argus Plexus']Nice post, Fiz. First worthwhile read I've had on here in a LONG time.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='Dockery']I was beginning to wonder what happened to Fiz.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='PantherProfessor']good read.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='Kurb']Fiz is so cute when he uses his powers for good.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='DaCityKats']nice read asshole lmao.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='Khyber53']Very well written and you make some good points.

The spread offense is often derided by pro coaches publicly, but they are adopting it quite a bit. And Fiz is exactly right, they've felt they had to to make the most of both the rule changes and the college product they end up working with.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='Snake_Fist_Gung_Fu']This is def the most epic post of the off-season.[/QUOTE]

You have all been set up, I hope you brought the lube, cuz you know Fiz won't.

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Go down by seven or even ten and see how well we do against a 3-4 D.

Running the ball and playing prevent D is cool, but only when you have the lead. Say what you will, but it's a QB driven league, and you need a really good one to consistently make the dance.

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[quote name='Jangler']You have all been set up, I hope you brought the lube, cuz you know Fiz won't.[/QUOTE]



I knew there would be a time to use this.


[IMG]http://webpages.charter.net/kyuzo/farkps/belt.jpg[/IMG]


Oh and if anyone is wondering I have not updated to windows 7 yet. :biggrin:

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Geno Atkins is the perfect example of this...

He will fall because he has no place in a 3-4..I hope the panther pick him up.

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The spread offense is run by a number of teams and has been for years long before Urban Meyer was at Florida. He may be one of the latest to run it and gets lots of exposure because of Tebow but he is hardly the originator or even the best innovator of the spread offense. It was originated by Randy Russell in 1927 for his boy's team which is where the term Mighty Mights originated in Texas. In 1952 TCU coaching legend wrote a book entitled The Spread offense is Not New. The father of the modern Spread offense is generally credited to Glenn Ellison and was termed the Run and Shoot. This is the offense run by June Jones when he coached the Atlanta Falcons in the 90s before he went to Hawaii. Even last year I would say that Houston and Texas Tech ran better spread flex schemes than Florida did. They get the exposure in the SEC.

There are several versions of it typically called the Spread- Flex, the Run and Shoot, the Spread Option, the Pistol Offense, etc. Even the Wildcat used by the Panthers in 2006 and now by Miami is a version of the spread offense. Here are some general articles for those that care.

[URL]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spread_offense[/URL]

[URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offensive_philosophy_%28American_football%29#The_Spread"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offensive_philosophy_(American_football)#The_Spread[/URL]

[URL]http://www.spreadoffense.com/[/URL]

Why are they so popular? Because they don't require a great quarterback to run them who can read defenses, use quick tempo passing which is easier to complete, and college defenses aren't very good at stopping them.

If the spread offense had anything to do with teams employing a 3-4 look than most college teams would be going to it but they aren't. Why not? Because it is hard to find high school players big or strong enough to play a 3-4 nose tackle position or even a 3-4 DE position. Most colleges run a version of the 4-3 with many going to a 4-4. In fact the limitation on most 3-4 defenses in the NFL is a lack of good 3-4 nose tackles coming out of college even after having 4 more years to bulk up. In addition a 3-4 takes time in college to teach particularly the linebackers and secondary. Plus most 3-4 linebackers in the NFL were actually 4-3 DEs in college. Many teams go to the 3-4 in the NFL because it is easily to scout and to find smaller DEs who will fit in NFL schemes as 3-4 linebackers. The problem with the 4-3 is finding 4-3 DEs. Many DEs in college aren't talented enough to play DE in a 4-3 at the pro level.

The concept of DEs coming around the edge and DTs shooting the gap has been around for decades and isn't a result of the spread offense. Any pass defense relies on pressuring the quarterback. In fact pressuring the quarterback by blitzing for example isn't a primary weapon to neutralize the spread offense since the spread offense rolls out, throws screens and short timing routes which are primary tools to beat the blitz. And remember that blitzing is a primary tool of the 3-4. Plus DTs shooting the gaps is a function of a 4-3 not a 3-4. The concept of college defensive coordinators using faster smaller linemen is because they are more available and the increase in passing in general not any particular scheme. It is interesting that this trend has increased at colleges as well as the pros despite the rules in college not favoring the offense as much as it does in the NFL.

There is no doubt that increased emphais on passing in the pros has been a function of new rule changes favoring the offense although I doubt that Polian should be given undue credit since a majority of the owners have to agree with any rule change. If they believed the rules favored one team over another they could easily defeat it needing only 6 votes to defeat it if I remember correctly. I think they all agree that scoring points increased TV revenue and makes it more exciting and that is why the offensive changes have occurred. Safety concerns are most often cited by the league for quarterback protection issues and rightly so.

Are pro teams going to a 3-4 to take advantage of the talent coming out of college. Yes, but not because of the spread offense. It is as I noted above, there are tons of DEs in college that can be converted to OLBs in a 3-4. 4-3 DEs are much harder to find and develop. Increases in speed and athleticism are halmarks of all college athletes not a trend to defend a particular scheme in college. In fact I would argue that more colleges are going to a spread offense because more high schools are using it so there are more guys coming to college familiar with it. Plus as noted above, it doesn't take extremely talented athletes to run it.

And the 3-4 isn't new either. The 3-4 was designed by Bud Wilkerson in the 1940s at the University of Oklahoma. Chuck Fairbanks imported it into the NFL. The first team to win the Super bowl with the 3-4 was the Miami Dolphins in 1972. Both teams in Super bowl XV used the 3-4 Philly and Oakland with Oakland coming out on top. (Painful memory for me). By the mid 90s it was waning in importance. It has re-emerged in the last 10 years with now 12 of the 32 teams currently running it exclusively. Other teams like Arizona run a hybrid version and most teams have used it as one time or another.

I will add more after dinner.
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