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[Sticky] Looking for info or input on the 4-3 D. Pros/Cons, etc...

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Shamrocks
(@shamrocks)
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Anyone have some input, sites, videos or books they can recommend in regards to running the 4-3?

Thanks


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ZACH
 ZACH
(@bucksweep58)
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4-3 as you see today requires a lot of knowledge to coach it properly regardless of over/under/pro/stack thats before coverage.

4-3 "kansas city stack" of 4 down and 3lbs behind them means you have 7 box defenders. Potentially 7 filled gaps, however run fits dictate the bsckside olb to be the "cut back/counter" player, so 6 potential gap players to one side of the ball.

Each tech is played to essentially take a off lineman on and penetrate, the 3 lbs are best to remain protected from blockers.

Based on just those principles its not generally a great idea to run a 4-3 in youth mainly due to time and coaching restraints.

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


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ZACH
 ZACH
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PSLCOACHROB
(@pslcoachrob)
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Landry's 43 flex.


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PSLCOACHROB
(@pslcoachrob)
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Go into the home tab. Go to defense then even fronts. The DC 43 flex download is in there and about a million threads on even fronts.

I think most youth teams like more men in the box. Not that you can't play a safety or two tight.


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blockandtackle
(@coacharnold)
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Anyone have some input, sites, videos or books they can recommend in regards to running the 4-3?

Thanks

The are different types of 4-3.  The number of DL and LBs doesn't really tell you much.  More important is whether it boxes things, like the old school Pro 4-3 or College 4-3, or spill like the famous Miami 4-3.  Most contemporary college and professional 4-3s are really just 4-2-5s with the positions renamed, which isn't as big a deal as it sounds.

A typical modern 4-3 is basically going to have Over and Under fronts (3 tech set strong or weak, respectively).  The base coverage is Quarters or 2 Read, with the ability to bring a S up into the box to look like a 4-4 and play Cov. 3 (or run different Sky/Cloud variations of Cov. 3).  It will probably spill everything to S, OLBs, or even CBs  You can play Man out of it as well, just like any other defense.  For goal line or short yardage situations they may have a Double Eagle front or a Wide Tackle 6 looking thing, maybe even a 6-3 Wide Tackle 6.

Old school Pro and College 4-3s...the 4-3s you saw dominate the NFL from the 60s to the late 80s... played a lot more like a 5-2 or 3-4 defense would now.  That includes Lombardi's defense in Green Bay, the Cowboys "Doomsday Defense," and the "Steel Curtain" of Pittsburgh in their 70s dynasty.  Everyone would contain and squeeze everything with his outside arm free.  It was all about holding the POA and being bigger and more physical than the other guy to stuff the run.  The DTs would slant or possibly 2 gap, which is easy for a 2 tech: knock the G back with eyes looking through A gap, then fight outside if the ball's going there.  The OLBs were basically big standup DEs who could sometimes drop into a zone or run with a TE and usually played a 9 tech on a TE or just outside of the box, making it look more like a 6-1.  A dominant run-stuffing MLB (think Dick Butkis or Ray Nitschke) who could fill any holes between the tackles, crush a FB in the hole, and always take great pursuit angles was essential.

Pressure in those old defenses usually involved stunting the DTs around or running twists with the DL.  The DL would slant a lot with the OLB backside of the slant rushing to create a 5 man rush while a DB squatted in that flat and the secondary rotated to 3 deep/3 under.  On passing downs, the MLB right up through the open A gap was and still is the best blitz in all 4-3 defenses, possibly all of football, but he didn't blitz much because he was so important to 2nd level pursuit.

Then the 80s came, and with it the Miami 4-3 of Jimmy Johnson at the University of Miami.  The "Miami 4-3" was revolutionary in the way they prioritized speed and technique over size and strength--which came from a desire to feature all the talented athletes and speed they were getting from their backyard talent pipeline in South Florida.  This is where "spilling" really became popular and has become the preferred technique of 4-3s ever since.  Spilling, in combination with the Cov. 2 and Quarters coverage that made it work, was the solution that the U found to 3 problems: defending the option, the inherent weakness off-tackle of a boxing 9 tech, and an overall lack of size to hold the POA.

The Miami teams were the ones who converted S to LBs, LBs to DEs, DEs to DTs, and DTs to OL to get more speed on the field.  They typically preferred to play all the DL in outside shades: 5, 1, 3, and 9 techs, to simplify teaching.  They'd combine this with the wrong-arm/spill techniques on the DL and scrape exchange techniques by the LBs to constrict the field and utilize their speed without getting destroyed at the POA.  If #2 was detached from the box, the WOLB would apex out with him to split the difference, which meant the MLB must 2 gap strong A gap to weak B gap (or vice versa in an Under front).

The MLB still had to be smart and tough in this defense, but he also needed to be fast: think Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Ken Norton Jr., Dan Morgan, etc.  The OLBs were smaller guys who would have (and often had) played SS in previous defenses.  The only really big run stopping DL needed was the 3 tech, who was the lynchpin of the whole defense and has a role as important to stopping the run as the NT in a modern 3-4--he's the guy who must stack up to a double team and shore up the entire strong side of the defense.  The rest of the DL were there to pressure the offense and just own their one gap.  If you don't have a good MLB and a rock solid 3 tech who can withstand a double team without giving ground, you're going to be in trouble in this defense.

Fun fact: the Miami 4-3 was originally developed to stop the Wishbone attacks of Oklahoma and other option offenses that were still dominating in the early 80s.  Then Jimmy Johnson took it with him to the NFL when he was hired as HC of the Dallas Cowboys in '89 and found that the defense, with its emphasis on speed and athletic DL, was also excellent for pressuring QBs without needing to blitz.  By 1995 all but 2 teams in the NFL ran a variation of this defense, along with over 75% of college football.

By the mid-90s, the Miami 4-3s "Over" front started to also be used in tandem with another variation of the 4-3: Monte Kiffin's "Under Front" that he developed at the University of Arkansas, which was brought to the NFL by Tony Dungy with the Minnesota Vikings in the early 90s and then dominated the 90s NFL with Kiffin running it in Tampa Bay.  Like the Over front, the "Under" front had its roots in old school 4-3s: the Over/Under terminology was a 70s way of shifting the DL strong or weak.  To Kiffin, he'd align the 4-3 to look more like a "reduced" 5-2, with the 3 tech on the weak side, the 1 tech on the strong side, DE in a 5 tech, and the SOLB walked up in a 9 tech with the other two LBs aligned up over the Gs, respectively.  This helped to remove a bubble from the front against 2 back offenses and meant the 3 tech, who was usually a pretty good player, was now better protected from double teams and matched up 1-on-1 with a G on the weak side, while the WLB was heavily protected to go sideline to sideline and make plays.  The Under front is why Derrick Brooks (and his 4.5 speed) was able to be a 220lb WLB in the NFL and make it to the HOF with insane tackling numbers each year.

Most 4-3s now base from these 2 fronts, using the Under against 2 back sets and the Over against 1 back or empty sets.  Without a TE, the only difference really just becomes which side you put the 3 tech.

In more modern 4-3s, you now see a lot more 4-2-5 influence to better defend the spread, which means you have split field coverage checks and that Field/Boundary concepts play a bigger part--these 4-3s aren't as quick to apex the WOLB out of the box anymore because gun spread stuff means a true 5 man box is asking to get destroyed inside.  Many teams will play 6 or 7 techs instead of 9 techs on a TE, which simplifies gap assignments by keeping the DL, MLB, and WLB in the box at all times and the SOLB as more of a hybrid player who always fills D gap and can easily widen on spread out #2s without, and maybe even put the 1 tech in a 2i (helps to constrict the weak side B gap against Iso) or 3 tech in a 4i on passing downs to get him better leverage on his pass rush.

If you run this defense, you can do all kinds of stuff in terms of pressure, but most 4-3 coaches still put a premium on the DL getting the lion's share of the pressure.  As I said before, the best blitz in the whole defense is the MLB right up the middle in A gap, maybe combined with the NT crossing face into the opposite A gap first.

If you want to learn more, I recommend the Pat Narduzzi DVDs that he put out when we was at Michigan St.  There are 2 on the basics of the scheme (which is surprisingly vanilla--4-3 Over front with Quarters coverage over 75% of the time and a few zone blitzes make up 15-20%).  Then there are 3 position-specific DVDs on coaching the techniques of DL, LBs, and DBs, respectively.  Taken together, they are an absolutely excellent resource.

Ron Vanderlinden's "Eagle and Stack Defense" is also pretty good, but a little different than most 4-3s.

Jerry Gordon's book on the Under front is pretty good, too.


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PSLCOACHROB
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I have Venderlinden's and Gordon's books. Both are good. FSU will be running Narduzzi's 4-3 now that Harlon Barnett is the dc. Great hire imo. Simple defense.

B&T,
Great post. Thanks for that break down.


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Dusty Ol Fart
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I'm just going to come right out and say it.  Most youth Coaches don't have the staff, let alone the Jimmies and Joes to run the 4-3. Zach's and B&T's post signify how Tech Intense it is.  Over Under, etc.  About a decade ago I was at a clinic with Michigan States LB Coach talking up and drawing the 4-3 Defense they used with Great Success.  Trust me there was always 1 LB, usually the Will who was on an Island.  Super Stud.    Out in Space, on his own.  My head was spinning as to how I could implement this.

My first year Coaching I decided we were going 4-3.  2 games into the season, after getting hammered, I went 4-4 Stack and eventually to a 50 front.  Why? Simplicity!  Way too much stuff for 14 and under team, or younger, to learn let alone coach.  Grab John Levra's DLINE Book and read it.  Trust me, if you have the time to cover all the Techniques on the DL, I am envious.  Now extrapolate that out to the other 7 positions and you have a 4-3.  With the Advent of the "Spread O" Very few defenses in the NFL (B&T says Same) are true 4-3.  Almost 100% of NFL teams are in Nickle and Dime on 2nd and 3rd down. 

I dont have a "Select team"  I put out there what WE can coach up and play.  I am no differnt than any one of you.  I have ADD/ADHD Kids, Kids whose home life is a wreck, Smart kids, Atheletic kids, Tall kids, Short Kids, Dumpy and Frumpy ones too. 

K.I.S.S. is how we survive.  If they "Get It" they get more, if they struggle, we get less.  I'll envoke a Michael here.  If you can explain it to a 5 year old, and they get it, youre on he right track.  If not "Try Again". 

Make sense to anyone?

Not MPP... ONE TASK!  Teach them!  🙂


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PSLCOACHROB
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Dusty,
I'm with you. When I say that Narduzzi's 43 is simple that is relative to a collrge defense. Clark dissected the 43 and made a youth friendly version. It doesn't seem to be supported much here anymore. Personally, I love the ease of a 50 front with C3 behind it. I think with the 50 though you better be able to play your dts at different techs of you are in trouble. A good off tackle team will beat you up if you don't go into an okie front for example.

I would not run a 43. I want 8 in the box in youth unless you force me out of that. But there is great value in learning about the 43 and I wouldn't tell somebody it wouldn't work or is too hard to install. Everybody has their own situation. Plus, like I said, it can obviously be dumbed down as Clark has a down load for his version of the 43.


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ZACH
 ZACH
(@bucksweep58)
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I agree with psl,i can install an over 40 defense  1 practice and be able to scrimmage or play.

I cant install a 33 in 1 week and expect good play in a scrimmage lol

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


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bigshel
(@bigshel)
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We've had some really good defensive threads the past few days. This one and the Zone Coverage thread, to be specific. Can we please "sticky" both of them? Unless there's a way to bookmark it that I haven't uncovered.


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PSLCOACHROB
(@pslcoachrob)
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Done.


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tiger46
(@tiger46)
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Clark's Killer Bee defense is a youth friendly and based off of Dallas' Flex 4-3 Doomsday Defense. I've ran it with 12u's all the way down to 8u's.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ”  ― Frederick Douglass


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blockandtackle
(@coacharnold)
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I'm just going to come right out and say it.  Most youth Coaches don't have the staff, let alone the Jimmies and Joes to run the 4-3. Zach's and B&T's post signify how Tech Intense it is.  Over Under, etc.  About a decade ago I was at a clinic with Michigan States LB Coach talking up and drawing the 4-3 Defense they used with Great Success.  Trust me there was always 1 LB, usually the Will who was on an Island.  Super Stud.    Out in Space, on his own.  My head was spinning as to how I could implement this.

My first year Coaching I decided we were going 4-3.  2 games into the season, after getting hammered, I went 4-4 Stack and eventually to a 50 front.  Why? Simplicity!  Way too much stuff for 14 and under team, or younger, to learn let alone coach.  Grab John Levra's DLINE Book and read it.  Trust me, if you have the time to cover all the Techniques on the DL, I am envious.  Now extrapolate that out to the other 7 positions and you have a 4-3.  With the Advent of the "Spread O" Very few defenses in the NFL (B&T says Same) are true 4-3.  Almost 100% of NFL teams are in Nickle and Dime on 2nd and 3rd down. 

I dont have a "Select team"  I put out there what WE can coach up and play.  I am no differnt than any one of you.  I have ADD/ADHD Kids, Kids whose home life is a wreck, Smart kids, Atheletic kids, Tall kids, Short Kids, Dumpy and Frumpy ones too. 

K.I.S.S. is how we survive.  If they "Get It" they get more, if they struggle, we get less.  I'll envoke a Michael here.  If you can explain it to a 5 year old, and they get it, youre on he right track.  If not "Try Again". 

Make sense to anyone?

I see what you're getting at, but I respectfully disagree.  Any defense can be stripped down and simplified enough to make it work.  You don't want to run the Michigan St. 4-3 with a youth team, but if you can run a 5-2 or 3-4 at the youth level you can also run a Pro 4-3 or College 4-3.

Spilling isn't as complicated or as crazy as people make it out to be.  I've coached 4-3, 4-2-5, 4-4, 5-4, 5-2, 3-4, and 3-3 defenses.  If you don't get bent out of shape by learning how to teach something different than you may have learned it back in the day, the 4-3 is no big deal.

In fact, I love it as the foundation of a "multiple even" defense with some 4-4 and 4-2-5 ideas blended in for older kids.  Walk up the FS to get an 8 man front and now you have a 4-4.  Make the Sam LB more of an overhang player like in the 4-4 and put your DE in a 6 or 7 tech and now you have a 4-2-5.  Play 2 Read, Man, and Cov. 3 behind that.  Easy.


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Dusty Ol Fart
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My experience was less than spectacular with the 4-3.  Admittedly, it may have had to do with the presentation as much as player ability.  However, as it happened, the defense was much improved Dropping that Strong Safety down to OSLB and Going 4-4.  I've had Good Success with Jacks 6-3 and Morphing the 4-4 to a 4-2-5.  At least with 6th grade and under, I see a great benefit to 8 in the box.  I spent a few years going Odd front as well.  To your point, I agree, if it "clicks" for you then run with it.  Perhaps the 4-3 just doesn't click for me as the other defenses do.   

Not MPP... ONE TASK!  Teach them!  🙂


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