Look at alignments first. Instead of lining up in straight gaps, our down lineman are all “pinching in” and shifting toward the strong-side (where the TE lines up). There are a few ways to line up your fatties in a 3-4. Last year we used a one-technique and a five technique up front, with our MLB’s close in the middle of the field. One OLB lined up in a seven technique. This is jargon for the DT lined up between the center and the guard, the DE’s lined up on the outside hip of the Offensive tackles. One OLB lined up on the outside of the TE. That side is the strong side of the play.
This year our strong side DE lines up on the inside shoulder of the OT, the DT lines up on the inside shoulder of the strong-side guard, and the weak-side DE lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard. The weak-side DE lines up wide off the right shoulder of the OT. On the strong side, the OLB lines up on the TE. “Pinching in” means the three fatties point their hinies away from the TE. This is the “pinch”. All three fatties hit their gaps slanting toward the strong side. The OLB on the weak side has out-side contain or pass rush responsibilities.
The MLB’s line up farther apart. The strong side MLB lines up closer to the center of the formation, while the weak side MLB plays closer to the OT. This gives you some immediate benefits. First, this is important. Ware is the best pass rusher in the NFL. On a passing down, there is no reason you would ever, under any circumstance, take Ware out of the pass rush. In fact, you kind of want to put Ware in the best position possible to pressure the QB. This new scheme treats the OLB like Lawrence Taylor.
There was a play against Minnesota in the pre-season where the TE lined up right, but three receivers were in a bunch formation on the left. The D-Line still pinched toward the TE, rushing the passer. The three receivers couldn’t release from the zone before there was too much pressure. The MLB and OLB were right in perfect position against a bubble screen or quick pass. I was pretty happy.
How it Fits Together (i.e. Theory 101).
The pass coverage is the catalyst here. Keeping a man deep lets the Strong Safety line up 10 yards deep in the middle of the field, with the MLB’s covering the short zone. The CB disrupts the route or the timing of a pass route, then reads the QB’s eyes. The line is slanting in towards the strong side. The Offense keeps a man in to defend, but as soon as he sets, Ware is making waffles out of him. The whole thing is meant to get pressure on the QB. There are a few blitz packages that are new. Mainly, we’ll see a zone blitz where an MLB or a SS overload the line and blitz in, while a DE drops into that part of the zone. If the pass coverage can add .5 seconds of disruption, then we get a sack or interception. That’s the theory anyway.
What to Expect on Sunday
Who knows? For all I know we’ll line up in the old 5-2 with leather helmets.