Tuesday, August 21, 2012
It's been well established that Pittsburgh will be using a 3-4 defense in 2012 as they have been using that scheme since 1982, without fail. It has worked well for them. During the 1990s and into the earlier part of the the new century the 3-4 had faded away to near extinction. Well, it has returned with a vengeance.
The top three defenses of the 2011 season were all running a 3-4 scheme (Steelers, Texans and Ravens, respectively). The Steelers defense most recently have been lead by Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau. The man obviously knows his stuff. LeBeau lead one of the better defenses of the 1980s, the Bengals. I would look for the Steelers to remain a top 5 defenses in 2012.
The Texans started running under the legendary Wade Phillips in 2011 and will continue in 2012, even after concern he might take a head coaching job somewhere else. The Texans defense adapted very well to the 3-4 and ended the 2011 season 2nd overall in Defense. Anyone who reads my blogs knows that I am rather partial to the Texans but I think others will agree that the Texans ending in the top 5 Ds in the NFL is a high probability for 2012.
The Ravens defensive team speak for themselves. These guys are total professionals and any defensive coordinator would love to have this group to work with. Rex Ryan started these guys on the path to the 3-4 and they have stayed with it since. Granted, the powerhouses of the Ravens defense is getting along in age but they still have a lot to fear if you are an offense going up against them. If Reed can stay healthy, the long ball will be difficult for anyone sharing a field with these guys. True masters of the 3-4.
You can't talk about about a 3-4 defense without having something on the Ryan family. Buddy Ryan is another 3-4 legend and being from Houston I can't help but put this out here. Ryan made the Oilers a top 3 defense while he was here. Wade was replaced in Dallas by Rob Ryan and runs Buddy's playbook but I cannot lie, I'm not sure Rob has the instincts his father had. I know I'll get some backlash from people talking about the Ryan boys but both the Ryan sons picked up from their dad (Buddy) how to design and build a good 3-4 playbook but, with the exception of Rex's time with the Ravens, neither of them have been able to implement their 3-4 as well as dear old dad.
Rex might do well to leave the Offense of the Jets to someone better fit to build an offense and change his group from the 4-3 to a 3-4 if he wants to prove his guys the "better team".
Like I said, I expect some backlash over some of the commentary here but guys, I have to call it as I see it.