3-4 Defense: Alignment and Gap Responsibility

Having diagrammed the Cover 1, Cover 2 and Cover 3 defenses in a 4-3 alignment, I figured it was time to give the 3-4 some love. After gaining popularity in the NFL, the 3-4 defense has crept its way into the college and even high school game. While it can be an incredibly effective defense, it is very stringent on having the right personnel.

I have diagrammed a typical 3-4 defense below, using the ChalkTalk Telestrator.

Nose Tackle: (Labeled as DT in diagram) Widely regarded as the most important position in a 3-4 alignment. As the anchor of the defense, the NT is expected to disrupt the middle of the offensive line, often drawing double teams. The disruption and penetration by the NT frees up the inside LB’s to make plays.

Defensive Ends: In a 3-4 alignment, defensive ends play a much smaller aspect in the pass rush, as they are generally not coming off the outside. DE’s in this scheme are generally better run stoppers, freeing up the OLB’s to make plays in the run and pass game.

Outside Linebackers: OLB’s in a 3-4 defense account for a majority of the pass rush while also maintaining the edge in the rushing game. OLB’s alignment and gap responsibility are often stunted in a 3-4 defense, wreaking havoc on offensive lines.

Inside Linebackers: While the defensive lineman tie up the offensive lineman, the ILB’s in this scheme are generally responsible for stopping the inside run. Stunted blitzes from the ILB’s can also be very effective in the pass rushing department.

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