By Jonny Savage

Welcome everyone to this new and hopefully innovating series of volumes known as the “Savage Sessions”. Whether you are a coach, aspiring coach, a player or just someone looking for a good read, this will hopefully help you understand the game of football just a little bit better. So without further ado, let us begin.

Today we will be visiting the 3-4 defense. Personally, it’s one of my favorite formations on the defense because it can be very useful and versatile if used correctly. The 3-4 defense has a free safety and a strong safety, two cornerbacks, two outside linebackers, two inside linebackers, a defensive tackle and two defensive ends. The formation was originally designed to help defend against the pass and first came to the game of football in the 1940’s and was used by the University Of Oklahoma and designed by Bud Wilkinson. The 3-4 is preferred by certain teams because of the versatility of bringing in another linebacker to do any one of numerous tasks. It allows for linebackers to either drop back in coverage or blitz the QB, spy the QB or man up with either a WR or TE. The 3-4 is a good way to keep defenses unpredictable and can surprise the quarterback in more ways compared to the 4-3.

An overhead view of the 3-4 defense

In the NFL, the Dolphins used the 3-4 and went undefeated in 1972. They used OLB Bob Matheson as a down lineman or rushing linebacker. This is otherwise known as the attacking 3-4. The Pittsburgh Steelers have used the attacking 3-4 as their main formation since 1982. They were the only defense to use the 3-4 in 2001 and were statistically the best defense in the NFL during that season.

How to utilize the 3-4 in the SFL

There are many versions of the 3-4 defense. In APF 2k8, the attacking 3-4 is not an option but you can replicate it using certain plays. Plays like Cover 3 Strong and Cover 3 Weak will rush the inside or outside linebacker along with the 3 down lineman. This combined with certain bases can create a overload to one side, thus creating pressure on the QB.

Combining a razor right base with a Cover 3 Weak play can “overload” one side in an attempt to get more pressure on the QB quickly. Cover 2 bump in the 3-4 rushes the outside linebacker also. With the combined press coverage and razor right play you will be able to overload and put that pressure on the QB, while the linebackers will play man coverage with back field players such as the RB or FB and TE. The cornerbacks will press the WR’s. This “delays” the play thus giving your blitz more time to sack the QB.

3-4 using a Cover 3 Zone Blitz

2 Hard Fire will rush both outside linebackers. Combined with a pinch base, this can create lots of pressure while covering the quick out route and swing plays. While on the very next play, the AI may call Cover 3 Under which will drop back all the linebackers and only rush the three down lineman, thus creating such a diverse defence all in one package.

The 3-4 defense has many options that can help you get more coverage in base formations or can mix the pass rush up with a combined inside/outside linebacker, while the 4-3 is pretty set in its ways.

Best player builds for the 3-4

In the 3-4 you will want to focus on the OLB. His build is important. He has to be strong enough to shed blocks from the offensive line and quick enough to get to the QB.

Echo Love

He has elite speed for a linebacker combined with enough strength, making him an ideal linebacker to rush on the outside. Not only that, but if you decided to switch it up and have him drop back into coverage, his zone coverage will ensure he does a decent job. Topping off this ideal linebacker is his high aggression, solid tackling and excellent pass rush. If he has or obtains the reach tackle animation, this player could very well be one of the best 3-4 OLB in the SFL and he is ONLY on a silver contract!

Chad Guy

This Gold contracted linebacker for the San Francisco Sharks is a pretty good fit in the 3-4 defense. His speed and quickness will allow him to get to the QB fast while his good level of strength should be enough to allow him to shed offensive tackles to get to the QB. His aggressiveness and tackle are both sky high and flying. The only downside to this linebacker is his pass rush which is decidedly average upon close inspection. However, he makes up for it with great run coverage skills. Chad guy will also make a decent MLB in the 3-4 scheme. His pass coverage is abpit as good as his run stopping ability, combined with his speed and stamina, he can fit anywhere in the linebacking corps and be a dangerous weapon.

Chad Guy has quickly become one of the most versatile linebackers in the SFL.

Final Conclusion

The 3-4 defense has many advantages to it but it is also the more intricate and tricky to get right than the 4-3. Are you willing to risk in order to reap the rewards? Is your defense fast enough or strong enough to be able to pull off the 3-4 quickly? Teams in the SFL have managed to use the 3-4 effectively and dominate in the game. Such teams as the Alaska Storm and Baltimore Vultures ran the 3-4 in Season 12 and both made it to the playoffs, one effectively having a legendary season, going undefeated and winning a title. The 3-4 requires careful planning and one specific plan. All in all, the 3-4 defense is absolutely savage!

Tune in next time when Savage will be looking in-depth at wide receivers.