The Cleveland Browns and their 3-4 Stink-fence

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The basics of defensive philosophy, as I understand it, is that unless your opponent is the Carolina Panthers and your quarterback is Cam Newton, you are basically playing an advantageous numbers game. The quarterback is never accounted for in schemes because he is basically a statue hanging out behind the line – he is a ball canon. He is not going to be blocking, receiving or running down field. Therefore, the defense automatically outnumbers the offense 11 men to 10. (… please save the “what about Manziel?” stuff…)

The gist of a 3-4 defense is that you are trying to make that 11-on-10 advantage into an 11 on 9.5. The theory is based around getting a big, nasty man (your nose tackle) in the center of the field, lining him up over the guard and center and making both of them block him. The center will almost always take him, but the nose tackle will attempt to force the guard into blocking him as well, leaving another defender either free or only partially blocked.

Imagine the defensive line blocking for the linebackers, which is basically what they are doing in the 3-4. Again, I am not a defensive guru, but the basics are enough to understand the premise here.

The continued theory is similar for the defensive ends, who want to absorb the offensive tackles and squeeze the pocket. If you are keeping score at home, that means only one guard is left to block four linebackers and a strong safety. Obviously, the tight end, fullback and running back can come into play and can pick up the linebackers, but when they do, they are also not releasing for the passing game. The more people that don’t release, the less people for the secondary to cover.

Next: Where is the aggression?