Cleveland Browns: Planning for Philadelphia’s Wide 9 defense
By Joel W. Cade
The Wide 9 defense is not a defensive scheme, but rather is a technique played by defensive ends in a base 4-3 defensive scheme.
The Eagles run a 4-3 base defensive scheme, with Schwartz putting his own spin on it. Much like Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Schwartz wants to confuse the quarterback by showing exotic looks.
Ironically, the Achilles’ heel of the 4-3 base defense is that it presents the same look to the offense on every play. The defensive tackles line up over the guards with the defensive ends lined up over the tackles. Linebackers can be moved around, but generally line up three across the middle. By lining up in basically the same place, the offense is able to use defensive predictability to its advantage.
To create different looks and attempt to confuse the offense, coordinators running a 4-3 base scheme began lining up players in over and under looks. For the most part, 4-3 defenses in the NFL use base, over and under as their primary defensive alignments. Of course they adjust for nickel, dime and other situations.
Schwartz adds a twist to the 4-3 defense by changing the alignments of the front seven. In particular, he looks to create an advantage by lining up the defensive ends on the outside of an inline tight end. The outside shoulder of the tight end is the nine technique, so if a defensive end lines up wide of the tight end, then it is considered a Wide 9 technique.
Next: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Wide 9