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Why Do We Always Struggle Against 3-4 Defenses?


mightisright
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Forgive me if this is a dumb question but I want to know why we always struggle against the 3-4 defense? I think that's one of the main reasons the Texans switched to it, b/c they know they have to consistently beat us to win the division. I understand the basic concept of the 3-4 but don't understand why it always gives us fits! Help me out here!

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Forgive me if this is a dumb question but I want to know why we always struggle against the 3-4 defense? I think that's one of the main reasons the Texans switched to it, b/c they know they have to consistently beat us to win the division. I understand the basic concept of the 3-4 but don't understand why it always gives us fits! Help me out here!

Houston switched to a 3-4 because the best available defensive coordinator uses the that scheme.

Houston started off at their inception as a 3-4 team that caused Manning absolutely zero problems. Like Chad said, the 3-4 thing is a myth. They have beaten all manners of defenses and have also struggled against both 3-4 & 4-3. The common thread - those teams, regardless of scheme had really good players.

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The 3-4 has been proven to cause more turnover than other schemes. People argue this but the stats back it up.

I'm not getting to steeped in yet another 3-4 debate as I have already traveled this path most recently here;

To provide food for thought, I'll quote myself from the above thread;

The last time Manning saw SD and their 3-4, Manning tossed the game away with 4 INTS, thats roughly 1/4 of the INTs he threw all season. The 3-4 accomplished this while holding the Colts to a mere 24 YDS rushing. For his career against this one manifestation of the 3-4 (SD), Manning stands at 17 TDS and 22 INTS and a 4-5 W/L record.

If you dig through his career, and this is what I'm preaching concerning Manning and the 3-4, he throws gobs and gobs of INTs against 3-4 schemes with regularity. Forget the YDS, they matter not. YDS don't win games, INTS, however, lose games with demonic speed.

It is this FACT that caused our only viable division rival (Houston) in 2011 to switch to the 3-4, as well as the most notable 3-4 coach available, Wade Phillips.

Turnovers, that is the stat column that rises when the Colts play the 3-4. One could chalk this up to coincidence or a direct result of the scheme. Either way, you cannot argue the numbers, they do not lie.

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The 3-4 has been proven to cause more turnover than other schemes. People argue this but the stats back it up.

I'm not getting to steeped in yet another 3-4 debate as I have already traveled this path most recently here;

To provide food for thought, I'll quote myself from the above thread;

Turnovers, that is the stat column that rises when the Colts play the 3-4. One could chalk this up to coincidence or a direct result of the scheme. Either way, you cannot argue the numbers, they do not lie.

Just one opponent does not tell the whole picture, IMO. The Chargers have better pass coverage LBs than even the Steelers, IMO. The Steelers have better rush LBs. But our O-line gets outmanned more by the Chargers' D-line than the Steelers' D-line traditionally thus not letting Manning be set for his throws vs the Chargers. The one game we somewhat controlled our own running game in 2005 was when we put up 34 pts vs them. Plus, the Chargers, when they have Shaun Philips and whoever they have out there, play the pass exclusively, almost giving no respect to our run offense. You cannot spread them out as easily with multiple WR formations like the Colts or Patriots can do with the Steelers LBs. That is a key difference. Underneath routes, and dink and dunk passes, their LBs close in pretty fast.

Two things that have been shown to beat the Chargers' pass rush, a viable deep threat, connecting with a few deep balls, and running the ball to slow down their LBs. Crossing patterns vs their nickel CB have helped too, Gonzo used to kill them with that. Wayne was on one of those when Weddle grabbed his jersey and you know what happened then. They play the underneath routes better than the deep routes and they do not expect you to run the ball well, so we play right into the Chargers' LBs strengths, which is being very active at the LOS to tip quick screen passes etc. (Shaun Philips has made a living out of that).

Look at the enormous success running teams have had versus the Chargers in the playoffs, that should tell you something. The Patriots, even during their record setting 2007 year, were struggling to pass vs the Chargers who had beaten us at home before playing them at Foxboro. That is when BB and his coaches went to 3 TE formations, and ran the snot out of the Chargers front line. That is a luxury we do not have unfortunately and that is why the Chargers have beaten the Colts twice in the playoffs but have come up short losing to the Patriots in a close fashion, while also losing to the Steelers and Jets recently as well.

Yes, 3-4 teams do generate more turnovers but there are certain 3-4 teams that we do not match well with, and the Chargers are the main kind, IMO. Manning has done better vs other 3-4 Ds.

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Kerry Collins had a 90+ passer rating vs the Base 3-4 yesterday. It was when the Texans dropped 5 DBs in coverage that Kerry Collins could not make reads.

He also had 2 turnovers against the 3-4 base. Again, this backs my entire argument in the thread I linked to above. People that are arguing against me keep blathering off other stats....yards, completions, QB ratings....but turnovers trump all positive stats in a most heinous way.

I say again...why does this "myth" live on? Answer; Turnover.

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Just one opponent does not tell the whole picture, IMO. The Chargers have better pass coverage LBs than even the Steelers, IMO. The Steelers have better rush LBs. But our O-line gets outmanned more by the Chargers' D-line than the Steelers' D-line traditionally thus not letting Manning be set for his throws vs the Chargers. The one game we somewhat controlled our own running game in 2005 was when we put up 34 pts vs them. Plus, the Chargers, when they have Shaun Philips and whoever they have out there, play the pass exclusively, almost giving no respect to our run offense. You cannot spread them out as easily with multiple WR formations like the Colts or Patriots can do with the Steelers LBs. That is a key difference. Underneath routes, and dink and dunk passes, their LBs close in pretty fast.

Two things that have been shown to beat the Chargers' pass rush, a viable deep threat, connecting with a few deep balls, and running the ball to slow down their LBs. Crossing patterns vs their nickel CB have helped too, Gonzo used to kill them with that. Wayne was on one of those when Weddle grabbed his jersey and you know what happened then. They play the underneath routes better than the deep routes and they do not expect you to run the ball well, so we play right into the Chargers' LBs strengths, which is being very active at the LOS to tip quick screen passes etc. (Shaun Philips has made a living out of that).

Look at the enormous success running teams have had versus the Chargers in the playoffs, that should tell you something. The Patriots, even during their record setting 2007 year, were struggling to pass vs the Chargers who had beaten us at home before playing them at Foxboro. That is when BB and his coaches went to 3 TE formations, and ran the snot out of the Chargers front line. That is a luxury we do not have unfortunately and that is why the Chargers have beaten the Colts twice in the playoffs but have come up short losing to the Patriots in a close fashion, while also losing to the Steelers and Jets recently as well.

It goes much deeper than one opponent. I linked to a thread wherein I covered all 3-4 postseason opponents.

Not doing all that again. But my point stands, the 3-4 has caused us fits in respect to turnover and loss of possession through protection confusion leading to sacks, and often (as we saw yesterday) QB fumbles when getting blasted by a free-rusher.

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Not the case the last 6 seasons for Manning vs the 3-4, here is an article that addresses the myth that Manning struggles vs the 3-4:

http://18to88.com/20...nd-the-3-4.html

I remember doing a spreadsheet a few years back after noticing the trend. Off the top of my head, I think that between a loss to KC in early 2003, and the 2008 problems when Peyton was coming back from his knee injury, virtually all of the Colts loses (ignoring late season blowoffs) were either a) within the division or b) against 3-4 defenses. We beat most every good team we faced with a 4-3, and lost to most every good team we faced with a 3-4. I'm no expert obviously, but it seemed likely that scheme was a factor.

Maybe someone with more Xs and Os knowledge has more detailed thoughts, but it's obvious that these teams were more able to make Peyton uncomfortable in the pocket. Perhaps 3-4 schemes are harder to read, or tend to be filled with more versatile athletes. A hefty 4-3 we just no-huddle against until the DT's are about to pass out. A good 3-4 always seems to have rushers breaking through even when we are moving the ball against them. Maybe our blocking schemes don't work as well against it? I can point out that Mario Williams is a beast, but in standard 4-3 he would have been matched up against Costanzo with a TE doubling him. Yesterday he was farther outside picking his match-ups - and looked like Lawrence Taylor.

Other things to consider of course is that a lot of that history was a few MVPs ago. I suspect that even if Peyton had trouble reading 3-4's in 2003, I doubt that he does now. And also the tightening of the rule regarding defenders mugging wide receivers made life for all QBs a bit easier regardless of scheme.

------------------

And there are some interesting Xs and Os comments above. I'm not dismissing them, I just took so long to write this reply that they came in above me. :D

Edited by MAC
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It goes much deeper than one opponent. I linked to a thread wherein I covered all 3-4 postseason opponents.

Not doing all that again. But my point stands, the 3-4 has caused us fits in respect to turnover and loss of possession through protection confusion leading to sacks, and often (as we saw yesterday) QB fumbles when getting blasted by a free-rusher.

Yes, as an overall decade worth of statistics compilation, what you say is true.

But when the 2005 Steelers playoff loss happened, when Manning continually looked up field while Edge was open in the flat, that is when I felt Manning's QB play got smarter, IMO. He started taking more checkdowns and Addai caught a SB record checkdowns, if I am right vs the Bears. Ever since, he has been a new QB, IMO. Maybe it was the protection breakdowns in the Steelers game that forced him to re-examine how he attacked those aggressive defenses etc.

What sucks to me is that Manning had Aaron Moorehead and Craphonso Thorpe for wideouts (besides Wayne) in the 2007 Chargers 6 INT regular season game with Dallas Clark & Gonzo out for the game. Then, in 2010, the same deja vu all over again, Dallas Clark and Austin Collie out, no Gonzo to help out like in the 2008 regular season game where Gonzo caught a TD, remember that? So, he has to key in on Wayne just like in 2007, they pick him off 6 times in 2007, and 4 times in 2010. Talk about a tough break vs the Chargers every 3 years. Almost like our destiny is doomed when we play them :(.

If I look at Manning's stats vs 4-3 and 3-4 teams starting with 2006, it almost looks like a new chapter in Manning's QB play vs the 3-4, IMO, in the playoffs:

4-3 D Wins (2006 Chiefs - 3 INTs, 2006 Bears - 1 INT), 4-3 D Losses (2009 Saints - 1 INT)

Amounts to 2-1 (W-L) vs 4-3 D, 5 INTs in 3 games vs 4-3 D

3-4 D Wins (2006 Ravens - 2 INTs, 2006 Pats - 1 INT, 2009 Ravens - 1 INT, 2009 Jets - 0 INT), 3-4 D losses (2007 Chargers - 2 INTs, 2008 Chargers - 0 INTs, 2010 Jets - 0 INTs)

Amounts to 4-3 (W-L) vs 3-4 D, 6 INTs in 7 games vs 3-4 D

I am hard pressed to make a case ever since the Steelers playoff loss for Manning struggling exclusively vs 3-4 Ds or having more turnovers vs 3-4 Ds. Yes, I am including only playoff numbers since the beginning of 2006 but I do firmly believe his recognition of the checkdown and not forcing things up field improved considerably beginning with 2006, hence I am pointing that out. He has played smarter vs the 3-4 in the playoffs recently.

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Yesterday wasn't a problem against the scheme of the Texans' defense. It was simply poor execution on our part. As for the troubles with the 3-4 defense, Manning hasn't been having as much trouble with it recently. He has studied it enough that he has figured out a lot of the tendencies and blitz schemes, so he is no longer surprised by it as much

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It goes much deeper than one opponent. I linked to a thread wherein I covered all 3-4 postseason opponents.

Not doing all that again. But my point stands, the 3-4 has caused us fits in respect to turnover and loss of possession through protection confusion leading to sacks, and often (as we saw yesterday) QB fumbles when getting blasted by a free-rusher.

I don't think it's fair to take one year's results and make a claim based off that year. To support your argument, you could say that 12 of Manning's 17 interceptions last year came against 3-4 defenses. But then you're ignoring injuries and the impact they had (11 of those picks were during The Stretch when we were most injured). You're not taking into consideration the fact that many of those games the team was trying to come from behind and we're throwing the ball more aggressively than normal. You're also ignoring the fact that Manning has career days against other 3-4 defenses, like Rex Ryan and Dick LeBeau.

I think it's cherry-picking to say "look, he threw 4 picks against the Chargers, that must mean he struggles against the 3-4." I think that's sloppy.

The 3-4 can be run very well, and it can also be exploited. Look at the difference in production from the 2009 AFCCG to the 2010 playoff game, both against the Jets. Same base defense, same personnel, completely different scheme and gameplan, and different production. Just because Manning has a bad day against a 3-4 defense doesn't mean that the 3-4 is the key. He had a bad day against the Eagles last year.

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Forgive me if this is a dumb question but I want to know why we always struggle against the 3-4 defense? I think that's one of the main reasons the Texans switched to it, b/c they know they have to consistently beat us to win the division. I understand the basic concept of the 3-4 but don't understand why it always gives us fits! Help me out here!

we struggle because our small oline gets pushed around by the big nose tackles our center included, this wipes out the pocket and their dline is in our backfield .we need bigger players

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Forgive me if this is a dumb question but I want to know why we always struggle against the 3-4 defense? I think that's one of the main reasons the Texans switched to it, b/c they know they have to consistently beat us to win the division. I understand the basic concept of the 3-4 but don't understand why it always gives us fits! Help me out here!

It's not so much that a defense is a 3-4 defense that gives us trouble as it is that most of the 3-4 defenses in the league are top defenses. I think that a 3-4 can be a bit trickier to get blocked so inexperience on the offensive line along with poor coaching killed us yesterday.

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Perhaps part of the Manning / 3-4 debate is the fact that the "better" AFC teams that we lost to in playoffs used 3-4 defenses primarily, no?

Very good players on the top teams with arguably the best coaching in the league. I feel if these same teams ran 4-3 defense that we'd be hearing that. It sounds like some have numbers stating he doesn't have trouble so fact that they coincidentally run the same 3-4 would possibly skew the perception vesus reality. You can make numbers back up any theory tho.

I also think it is harder for Manning (or any QB) to read where the pressure is coming from. There tends to be more LB movement to disguise pressure, blitzes and coverages.

At least this has been my opinion as to "why" Manning "struggles" against 3-4 defenses. I do know he tends to chew them up in 3rd and 4th Qts tho. I've seen it MANY, MANY times.

You know, that makes me wanna watch a " 2:00 min to go 4th Qtr Manning" marathon. The infamous TB game always puts a smile on my face.

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