Does Ron Rivera LikeThe 3-4 Or 4-3 Defense Better?

Ron Rivera came to the Chargers from Chicago after being unable to find a head coaching job elsewhere around the league. He had become known as a defensive guru, but was viewed as somewhat one-dimensional in that his experience was only with 4-3 defensive fronts. The NFL, like any good copy-cat league, was looking for the secret to the Patriots' and Steelers' and Chargers' success and felt that 3-4 defenses had gained an edge.

Rivera came to San Diego by humbly accepting a position coach role in order to familiarize himself with the ins and outs of the 34 front. Now that he has experience in both defenses, which is better? If Coach Rivera were to move on from the Chargers and get a head coaching job elsewhere, what system would he run? The 3-4 or the 4-3?

A lot of it has to do with what type of players you have. The worst thing you can do as a coach is to try and force players to fit into a system that they don't belong in. The next thing you know, you start saying 'we have to start replacing guys.' When you start saying 'I need this, I need this, I need this,' before you know it you have this huge laundry list of things that you need, and before you know it you are out of time.

Of course, like anything, the two defenses have their benefits and their drawbacks.

When you look at the personnel we have (in San Diego), it's perfect for (the 3-4). We have four linebackers that are pretty interchangable. We could take an inside guy and put him outside. We can take an outside guy and put him inside. We've got such versatile athletes - gifted athletes. We also have outside linebackers that you can play as defensive ends. You can plug players in, move players around.

It does limit you to a degree in terms of matching up against with the run. In a 3-4, you don't necessarily fit up perfectly because you're relying on (the three d-linemen's) brute strength, size, and ability to make plays.


What the 3-4 does provide is confusing picture to the opposing offense. The pressure is disguised and you can disrupt an offense's rhythm much more than a traditional 4-3 can.

You line up in the 3-4, you've got four linebackers, and all you really need to do is add one more to the rush and now you've got a four-down line. Which one is it? Who's coming? And if (opposing offenses) are constantly guessing that, you can keep an offense off-balance.


Coach Rivera is certainly a bright defensive mind, and the experience he is gaining from working with the Chargers is going to make him a hot commodity when his contract expires.

Link: XX Sports Radio

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August 2, 2008

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