Since the 1970s, the passing game and modern spread formations, which are used by professional and collegiate football teams once again, have increased the popularity of the 3-4 defense, which developed from the old 5-2 defensive. Since there are 3 down linemen and 4 linebackers in a 3 4 defense, the name fits. Defense backs typically number four. It is possible to line up against offensive formations that spread out and to drop eight defenders into coverage whereas only rushing three defenders employing the 3-4 scheme. In situations where you are only rushing three defenders, your main goal is to contain the quarterback while letting eight cover defenders occupy all throwing lanes.

In general, the 3 4 defense comes in two main forms. Both variations are intimately connected to covering strategies on obvious passing downs. The outside linebackers (inverts or over hang players) will typically rush the quarterback in the first type of play. A “zone blitz” is when the rush linebacker is ordered to cover the flat on the side of the blitzing defensive back during crucial scenarios. Although outside linebackers occasionally rush the quarterback in this scheme, they are far more likely to drop into coverage since they must be able to back pedal and change course.

The History of 3 4 Defense

The alignment was created in the late 1940s by Bud Wilkenson at the University of Oklahoma. Following his instruction from Wilkinson, Chuck Fairbanks introduced the 3 4 defense to the NFL. The Miami Dolphins used it to win the Super Bowl and have an undefeated season in 1972. It then became a very popular defensive alignment from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Both teams utilized the 3 4 defense in the 1981 Super Bowl XV.

One NFL club was employing it in 2001, however its use has fallen in popularity. Once again, maybe as a result of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ success, the 3-4 defense gained popularity, and by 2016, 16 NFL clubs were utilizing it.

Defensive Line 

Three players who are crucially vital are the inside linebackers and the nose tackle. The nose tackle, however, is most likely the most crucial player once it is all said and done. To free up your inside linebackers in the 3 4 defense formation, you would like to have your nose guard to draw double and triple team blocks. It should be noted that the nose guard doesn’t necessarily need to be big because speed can draw both guards and help the center block the nose.

The defensive line consists of two defensive ends and a nose tackle (NT) (DEs). Due to the need to occupy more space and defend a greater area on the defensive front, linemen in 3-4 tactics are often bigger than those in 4-3. This was partly because of the previous 5-2 ideology, as 3-4 defensive ends were typically defensive tackles (DTs) when they initially entered. They must initially keep run spacing under control. Due to the fact that linemen in 3 4 defenses move mostly inside the constraints of line play and rarely use space, size and strength become more important for linemen than in 4-man fronts. In football, the 3-4 nose tackle position is thought to be the most physically taxing. Controlling the “A” gaps—the two holes between the centre and guards—and avoiding being pushed back into his linebackers is his main duty. Since most college teams play a 4-3 defense, most college DTs are more like 4-3 tackles than real nose tackles, making effective 3-4 NTs difficult to locate.

NT’s starting spot is opposite the center of the opposing team. Zero technique is the common name for this place. The two DEs set up off the offensive guards and line up in front of the NT. 

These systems assign two gaps for the defensive linemen to cover. Plays that take place in the gaps between the center and the guards must be stopped by the NT. An A gap is a name for each of those voids. When the NT lines up across from a tackle, the DEs flank him and cover the gaps on either side. A B gap is the distance between each guard-tackle and a C gap is the area outside of each tackle. Every lineman on other 3-4 teams (like the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys) is primarily in charge of one gap.


Four linebackers, two of whom are inside linebackers (Mike and Will) and two of whom are overhang players (Sam and Rover), are positioned behind the defensive line in a 3 4 defense. The linebacker unit consists of two inside linebackers (ILBs), who are sometimes referred to as outside inverts or overhang players, and two outside linebackers. The outside linebackers, also known as Sam and Rover in this manual, often line up a little closer to the of scrimmage than the inner linebackers, although they can sometimes be deployed at the same depth in coverage as or even deeper than the inside linebackers.

Speedy ILBs and OLBs who chase down running backs in run defense are a strength of the 3-4, as is the ability to deploy multiple rushers to throw the quarterback off during passing plays without having to play receivers in man-to-man coverage. Most teams rush four defenders in an effort to stymie the offense’s passing attack. These four rushers are typically the four down linemen in a typical 4-man front alignment. The fourth rusher in a 3-4 is normally a linebacker, despite the fact that many teams use a skilled safety to blitz and confuse the coverage, giving them additional defensive options in the same 3-4 look. However, because there are four linebackers and four defensive backs, the fourth potential rusher could come from any of the eight defensive positions. It is intended to confuse the quarterback’s prenup defensive read.

The disadvantage of the 3-4 would be that blocking schemes in the running game may overwhelm both of the defensive linemen and linebackers because there isn’t a fourth tackle to focus on offensive blockers and close running lanes. To be efficient, 3-4 linebackers require their defensive line to consistently encircle at least four (ideally all five) offensive lineman, freeing them up to make tackles. In order to overcome fullback, tight end, and offensive linemen’s blocks to get to the running back, the 3-4 linebackers must be extremely athletic and powerful. Typically, three to four OLBs are the team leaders in quarterback sacks.


Safeties may play mostly pass coverage or heavily support the run depending on the offensive scheme. Four defensive backs are typically used in the 3-4 scheme. The duties of a cornerback change based on the type of coverage called. Simply said, coverage refers to how the defense will defend itself from a throw. A corner will be assigned to either of the two pass defense strategies—zone or man-to-man—with variations that essentially result in the same duties. zone of coverage A portion of the field is within the cornerback’s control. The corner in this situation must always remain in its zone and downfield of the player it is covering. A more slack defensive strategy called zone is designed to give the defensive secondary more awareness while sacrificing tight coverage. As a result, in this scenario, the corner would be in charge of making sure that nobody ever stepped outside of him or stepped downfield of him in the absence of deep safety aid. 

The free safety is in charge of analyzing offensive plays and intercepting deep passes. He might also offer run support, depending on the defensive call. He serves as the last line of defence against receivers and running backs who slip past linebackers and cornerbacks. He must be a quick and shrewd player who can read plays, make tackles effectively, and alert his team to game situations.

Strong safety (Bandit) positions themselves quite near to the line of scrimmage and is typically bigger than free safety. He frequently plays a key role in the run defense, but he is also in charge of stopping throws, particularly ones intended for tight ends.

Strength of 3 4 Defense

The 3 4 defense is adaptable and offers some tremendous benefits when it comes to pressuring the passer and stopping the pass. Due to the limited number of linemen, the outside linebackers may occasionally fill the defensive end’s position, thereby creating a 4-3 look.

The 3 4 defense formation can be difficult for opposing quarterbacks to understand since the linebackers roam all over the field.

Many NFL teams have shifted to the 3-4 because it exposes the opposition offence with so many choices and numerous diverse looks. The expansion of the passing game in recent years is probably substantially to blame for this.

With its starting lineup, the 3 4 defense is far better competent of handling complex offensive game plans that include multiple-wide receiver sets, flexible tight ends that can line up wherever, and versatile halfbacks with the ability to catch the ball downfield.

 The opposing quarterback is responsible for determining who is where and for what purpose each player is acting. That is a major benefit for the defense.


So here I’ve given the knowledge about 3 4 defense which I’ve acquired. 3 4 defense is one of the greatest formation in football attack. You would find much more data about it from here. Still if you’ve any queries about this comment bellow.

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