Vikings Seeing Plenty of the 3-4

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 25, 2009 – 7:40 am

The 3-4 defense was at one time a scheme used primarily by AFC teams, meaning teams in the NFC such as the Vikings wouldn’t see very much of it on a season-to-season basis.

But in recent seasons, more and more NFC teams are employing the 3-4 as their base defense. The NFC North’s own Green Bay Packers, after the addition of Dom Capers as defensive coordinator, are one example of a team that’s switched to the 3-4.

As a result of both the scheduling formula that pits the NFC North against the AFC North this year and the growth of the 3-4 in the NFC, the Vikings will see the 3-4 defense several times in 2009. Three of the Vikings 4 preseasons opponents – Kansas City, Houston and Dallas – have a 3-4 base defense and the Purple’s Week 1 opponent – Cleveland – also uses the 3-4.

And there’s more. As Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell pointed out during his Thursday press conference, 5 of the Vikings next 6 opponents play the 3-4. San Francisco will bring the 3-4 with them to the Metrodome this weekend. Then, the Vikings will face the scheme twice against Green Bay in Weeks 4 and 8. The Vikings will also face 2 more AFC versions of the 3-4 when they play Baltimore in Week 6 and Pittsburgh in Week 7.

“Each time we play it we’ll be more comfortable with it,” Bevell said. “So we will get them all in a row and be able to see that technique. Now, some of the 3-4 schemes can be different. They can play their techniques a little bit different, but just being able to identify it, to see how they play it, each and every week, I only think we’ll get better at it.”

With just 3 down linemen and 4 defenders standing up near the line of scrimmage prior to the snap, the 3-4 defense is a dynamic scheme that can utilize multiple looks and subsets of alignments to confuse the offense. Just as teams who use the 4-3 defense have different strategies within that particular alignment, teams using the 3-4 are not all the same, either.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson noted a difference in the way Cleveland and San Francisco each run their versions of the 3-4.

“These guys (San Francisco) like to throw a lot of different looks out at you,” Peterson said. “Any 3-4 defense likes to confuse you. They get a lot of guys up standing up (and) rotating around. In Cleveland they did that a little bit, but not too much. Just watching these guys, you see them doing that a lot.”

Peterson agreed that having already seen the 3-4 defense several times in 2009 will help them against San Francisco and the other teams who run it, but he also indicated each team provides a different set of challenges.

“It will help because you got a feel for that defense, but still again, you got to make sure you focus on that opponent in the different formations that they have.”

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6 Responses to “Vikings Seeing Plenty of the 3-4”

  1. By Vikings Fan from Afar on Sep 25, 2009 | Reply

    Interesting article.

    Not to be annoying, but I believe Houston has a base 4-3. Of course, teams switch many times between different schemes in the middle of games. Brian Billick had a great segment on this in his coach’s show after Week 1.

  2. By purplehorn on Sep 25, 2009 | Reply

    It will be interesting to see how Singletary uses his 3-4 against the Vikings. I think he will not come as much off the edge but will bring pressure up the middle more. The danger for him doing that is Shiancoe squirting out to where that guy was. Don’t think Favre won’t see that and exploit it. The same goes for pressure off the edge. Peterson or Taylor in the flat with that LB gone- watch out.
    Singletary was a great MLB for the Bears. He will bring it up the middle. I think Leslie Frazier would agree. It’s in Mike’s blood.

  3. By Cory on Sep 25, 2009 | Reply

    Singletary is a great coach and the Vikes line and that guy who carries the ball for them our the best in the league. I can’t wait for this game because it’s going to be awesome. I want the Vikes to win because I’m a big fan but in the end a good game is what I want to watch and this game is going to be sweet.

  4. By CA Norwegian on Sep 26, 2009 | Reply

    Hey guys! If they can go to the NFC champs home and beat them, we cannot just play well in the 2nd half. We can cream them if we play well the whole game. But if they move and score and we punt, we are going to think about next week by the end. We have enough depth to win without Percy or Adrian. Favre can dole it out, if given the time. Look for the beefy protect packages, if they stifle the run game.

  5. By purple08 on Sep 27, 2009 | Reply

    great post purplehorn!

  6. By purple08 on Sep 27, 2009 | Reply

    all great posts!

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