Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sutton's Version of the 3-4 defense

In today's blog, I'm going to break down the key differences in Bob Sutton's version of the 3-4 defensive scheme compared to Romeo Crennel. One thing that has been suggested about Sutton's new defense is how defensive linemen are going to be allowed to get penetration. The second thing most media members and even players talk about is how aggressive the new defense will be.

Let's start with how the Chiefs defensive lineman are going to be free to shoot the gaps. In Romeo's 3-4 defense, the defensive lineman's responsibility was to just control the line of scrimmage. Guys like Tyson Jackson were asked to not shoot the gaps; instead, they were asked to hold the point of attack to allow the linebackers' opportunities to shoot the gaps and make plays. Sutton spent the better part of 12 years on the Jets defensive coaching staff. The defenses ran in NY during that time allowed the defensive lineman to one gap, or in other words, get penetration up the field. This philosophy is totally different from the one ran by Romeo the last 3 years.

I'm going to use film on the Jets defense from last year to illustrate this change in philosophy for the Chiefs defensive lineman. I'm sure most of  the concepts Sutton will be using will be based on the teachings he learned while working with Rex Ryan.

Let's take a peek at how the Jets use their defensive line in a 3-4 scheme.

Here is a play where you have number 93 Kenrick Ellis lined up as a nose tackle in the Jets base 3-4.

In this next image showing a run play, watch how Ellis penetrates the A-gap. He beats the guard to the spot as the offensive line shifts to the left. Look how Ellis has the Steelers guard number 73 out of position.


In the next image,  you can see how Ellis bullies the guard out of the way to stuff the run for a 3 yard loss. Can you just imagine how Poe, with his speed and athleticism, will be able to beat offensive  lineman on a consistent basis?


In this next image, I'll highlight Wilkerson playing the defensive end position in the 3-4.
On this play, Wilkerson will shoot the C-gap (space between the offensive tackle & tight end). Watch how Wilkerson gets up field; whereas, in a Romeo style 3-4, he would just sit on the blocks and wait for the running back to come towards him. 


Look how Wilkerson beats the offensive tackle Starks for a run stuff in the backfield.


With Jackson playing the same position, you can only hope he will have similar production as Wilkerson under this new scheme. While at LSU, Jackson was at his best penetrating gaps versus  just controlling the line of scrimmage.

 Under Romeo Crennel, the Chiefs were more of a bend but don't break defense. With Sutton taking over as defensive coordinator, he's been on record saying, "this is going to be a more attacking style defense that will play a lot of man coverage." Now lets take a look at how Sutton's defense is going to attack.

In the image below you can see Jets line up in a 3-2-6 nickel defense. As you can see, you have 3 down lineman, 2 linebackers, and 6 defensive backs. Pre-snap, the Jets defense gives the appearance as if they're going to rush 6 defenders. However, they're only going to rush 5 defenders on this play. The safety, number 37 Jaiquawn Jarrett, fakes the rush and falls back out into the flat at the top of the screen. David Harris, circled at the bottom of the screen, fakes an immediate rush but its a delayed blitz. The defensive end next to Harris will be the one who will actually tea off and get pressure on Luck.

via nfl .com

This pressure on Luck forced him off his spot which led to a Antonio Cromartie pick six. The touchdown was eventually called back due to a penalty on the play, but the pressure and deception of where the pressure was coming from is what led to the turnover.


Over the last 2 seasons, the Jets have 54 total takeaways. Comparatively, the Chiefs have a pedestrian 39 takeaways. With more creative blitzes being called by Sutton, this should lead to more turnovers.

In the next image below, the Jets will line up out of their nickel defense giving an appearance that they're rushing all 6 defenders. However, the safety( circled at the top of the screen), picks up the tight end in man coverage; thus, the Jets only rush 5 defenders.


In the next image, notice how defensive tackle Muhammad, and defensive end McIntyre, are going to perform a stunt on this play.  The play leads to a sack on Rotheisburger. Muhammad will shoot the B-gap from the defensive tackle position, whereas, McIntyre is going to shoot the A-gap from defensive end position.

The Jets cause so much confusion on the blitz that the Steelers offensive lineman don't pick up anyone on this play. Literally, all 5 defenders get in the backfield, but McIntyre is credited with the sack on this play.


Over the last two seasons, the Jets have racked up a total of 65 sacks. The Chiefs, on the other hand, had only 56. Despite the Chiefs having two pro bowl pass rushers, they still trail the Jets in sack totals.

Sutton's new scheme most definitely should boost the Chiefs sacks and takeaway totals this year. Sutton comes to a team that is far more talented at key positions in the 3-4 defense than the one he left in NY. Tamba Hali is widely considered as one of the top pass rushers in the AFC. Justin Houston is seen as an up and coming young star– being ranked in the top 50 of the NFL '13 Top 100 players. In addition, guys like Berry, Smith, and Flowers are playing in the secondary. With all these things combined this should lead to a Chiefs defense that is ranked in the top 10 this season.

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