3-4 or 4-3? Which defense will the Jets be running in 2019.
One of the biggest debates in football when it comes to defense is whether to run a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. The reality is neither one is particularly better than the other in today’s NFL, with NFL offenses continuing to use more 3 WRs looks, which forces the defense to sub out a linebacker or lineman and bring in an extra defensive back to match personnel and play a Nickel defense. As per the below graphic from Football Outsiders, teams were in their base defense only 25% of the time versus over 60% in their Nickel defense.
3-4 and 4-3 are just personnel groupings. For example, a 3-4 OLB would be a 4-3 DE. Either way, they would still be an edge rusher. One of the differences is a 3-4 OLB usually lines up in a 2-point stance while a 4-3 DE lines up in a 3-point stance. Depending on the scheme, a 3-4 OLB may also be asked to drop back in coverage more often than a 4-3 DE who will primarily rush the passer and play the run. This is because in a 3-4 front if you rush 4 players one of the OLBs would have to drop back in coverage.
Now Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has said he is going to stick with mainly a 3-4 base but will play both. For the Jets, the 3-4 vs base offensive personnel (12-One RB/2TE or 22-2RBs/2TEs) makes more sense because the strength of the team’s front seven is in its interior defensive line. With the 3-4 the Jets can play Henry Anderson, Quinnen Williams, and Leonard Williams all at the same time.
Because Nickel defenses are being played more often by NFL teams this has increased the value of defensive backs, specifically cornerbacks. This is especially true for Slot CBs. As a Slot CB, you need to be able to match up with quick and shifty Slot WRs, be able to play the run, and be a good tackler. I believe Brian Poole will do a great job filling in this role for the Jets defense. However, the corner play on the outside still concerns me with the Jets relying on 29 year old and injury-prone CB Trumaine Johnson (I still have nightmares about his contract lol) as their best cover man. Now I know people will argue that Johnson had his best year under Williams in 2015 when he had 7 interceptions, as per Pro Football Reference but that was four years ago.
All in all, the Jets defense will be much improved from last season and should be more exciting to watch. Really interested in what everyone’s thoughts are? What are your expectations for the Jets defense this season? As always really appreciated you taking the time to read my thoughts and all feedback is welcomed.