Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Mar 2013

Cosell’s Take: 3-4 and 4-3 Concepts

Greg Cosell's latest at Shutdown Corner is a discussion of the gap concepts that really make up the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments, with a heaping helping of the history that got us to where we are today with them.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 14 Mar 2013

8 comments, Last at 18 Mar 2013, 3:13pm by Aaron Brooks Good Twin


by NRG :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 9:50am

Is this the highly-placed nephew of Howard Cosell taking shots at someone else for cronyism?

"The Oilers’ defensive line coach was Wade Phillips; it was his first NFL job. (I guess he knew someone)."


by Jeremy Billones :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 10:43am

There's a difference between the nephew of a reporter/broadcaster taking a job with a different media company as a producer (that was before Disney separately bought ABC and ESPN, right?), and the son of a coach taking a job as a coach with the same team and working directly for his father.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 10:53am

The difference between Wade Phillips and Greg Cosell is that Wade actually turned out to have an area of competency.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 1:04pm

Had no idea Greg telated to Howarf. Just thought 2 guys same name. Remibf of time knew gut who thought Eric Davis of seeds and Eric Davis of 49ers same guy. One was Gerat CF and other one CB. So maybe the C followed by letter confused that guy too. Also probably thought Stove Smith of Raiders, Steve Smoth of Vlackhawks and StevecSmitg of heat all sme guy too

by IrishBarrister :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 2:40pm

Cosell has a very different view of the 3-4's history than everything else I've read on the subject.

For example, Bum Phillips wanted to run a modified 3-4 scheme while he was defensive coordinator under Sid Gillman at the San Diego Chargers. The backside DE would line up directly over the tackle, the Nose to the weakside of the center, and the other DE on the inside shoulder of the strongside tackle. He tried it out for a game, performed poorly, and Gillman never let him run the scheme again. It was Bum Phillips who later installed that same system in Houston several years later, not his son Wade, as Wade Phillips has said himself several times (e.g, "In the Phillips’ 3-4, my dad’s 3-4 ..."). Wade Phillips may have played a role in installing it, but certainly not inventing it.

And the notion that the Giants under Parcells ran 3-4/4-3 Under is also a bit revisionist. Parcells, with Belichick as the linebacker's coach, ran several 3-4 fronts, one of which is the "true" 3-4 (Nose over center, DEs over tackles). And Lawrence Taylor was by no means a defensive end in a two-point stance: like modern backside OLBs, he was expected to both rush the passer and drop into coverage depending on the play. His refusal to drop into coverage at times lead to a few spats with Parcells.

All in all, a very odd view of the 3-4's history.

by JimZipCode :: Fri, 03/15/2013 - 3:44pm

9 INTs for LT on his career. I remember watching a couple on TV. He was definitely in coverage at least some of the time.

by JonFrum :: Sat, 03/16/2013 - 6:15pm

Vince Wilfork has two INTs - just sayin.'

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 03/18/2013 - 3:13pm

And if he played until 2047, he might catch up to LT.