Can the Giants Make the Switch to a 3-4 Defense?


I’ve gotten lots of emails and comments about the Giants defense. Of course, everyone and their mother wants Bill Sheridan fired. I think he will be tomorrow. The common theme I see is fans wanting to see a change to a 3-4 defense. For those unfamiliar, a 3-4 defense has 3 down lineman, and 4 linebackers, instead of the traditional 4-3. I’m a fan of 3-4. If I was starting a team from scratch, that’s what I would employ. But, looking at this roster, can the Giants do it? Let’s explore.

I’ll start with the defensive line. The most important position in a 3-4 is the nose tackle. Chris Canty played some NT in Dallas, but he was more of an end. The Giants need a big body, someone like Shaun Rogers, or Haloti Ngata out there. Canty is a perfect 3-4 end. I’m more worried about the defensive ends. Defensive ends in a 3-4 don’t rush the passer as much. They hold up offensive lineman. These are usually “two-gap” defensive ends. Two-gap defenders take up two gaps on the offensive line. These are usually reserved for the big boys. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are not two-gap defenders. Neither is suited for two gap roles. Canty is, so that’s one end taken up. Who’s the other? And is that player in the draft or free agency? Not sure.

We talk a lot about the pass rushing ends in a 3-4. LT. DeMarcus Ware. I think Osi can do it. Kiwanuka can. Tuck probably not. In a 3-4, Tuck may the odd man out. The middle linebackers are taken care of. If Pierce comes back, his lack of athleticism could be hidden in a 3-4. I think Goff and Blackburn would be adequate.

So, in order to change to a 3-4, you’d need a nose tackle and one more defensive end. You wouldn’t really have a place for Justin Tuck. For nose tackles, there is Terrence Cody from Alabama entering the draft. Dude is big–6-5, 365. Will he be available at 17? Don’t know. There are some 3-4 linebackers. Johnny Jolly of Green Bay would fit as a 3-4 end. He’s a free agent, but who knows with the CBA talks. The point is this. Transitioning to a 3-4 defense will be tough. There are missing pieces, and with the uncertainty of the CBA, getting those pieces in free agency may be difficult. Should they try it? Maybe. I wouldn’t be opposed. But, it’s not a cinch. Oh, and Romeo Crennel is not available.


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4 Responses to “Can the Giants Make the Switch to a 3-4 Defense?”

  1. GiantFan says:

    The Giants in the 80’s could play a 3-4: They had linebackers named Taylor, Carson, Banks and Reasons. AP in his heyday could stick with those guys. There isn’t one other Giant Linebacker that can. How are you going to put 4 linebackers in when we can’t even find 3 good ones? Not one of our linebackers are anywhere near the Pro Bowl. The DL struggled but if I had to weigh 4 DL-men versus 4 LBs, it isn’t even close. We’re not going to a 3-4 without starting from scratch, which isn’t going to happen. I hope this conversation would stop now and not go on for the next 6 months…

  2. Matt says:

    I have heard a lot about the possibility of instituting a 3-4 defense in New York and I thought their personnel was perfect except for the lack of a nose tackle. I think that even though Justin Tuck may not be as heavy and big as the average defensive end in a 3-4 scheme but he is bigger than many defensive ends in 4-3 schemes and i think he is suited to play the position well. Also Boley and Sintim are perfectly suited to play the outside linebacker position in the scheme

  3. CES says:

    IIIIGHT! CHECK ME OUT.
    NOSE=ROCKY BENARD {HAS THE BODY}
    LE= J TUCK{PLAYED EVERY POS. ON THE LINE}
    RE= KIWI {PLAYED EVERY POS.INCL. LINEBACKER}
    CANTY/TOLLESON BACK UP ENDS
    ROLB= OSI {HAS THE SPEED, NEEDS MINOR TWEEK}
    LOLB= SINTIM {HAS SPEED,& ATHLETISM}CAN RUSH
    ILB’S= BOLEY & AP
    BLACKBURN/GOFF/WILKERSON/KEHL/CLARK-BACKUPS
    CORNERS= WEB & ROSS
    NICKEL= THOMAS
    JOHNSON/DOCKERY BACK UPS
    FS/SS=K PHILLIPS {ACTUALLY EVERYWHERE!LB ALSO
    FS MICHAEL JOHNSON
    THIS COULD WORK!!!!

  4. Pageiommi says:

    First off, to the commenters thus far, Tuck is NOT a 3-4 DE. Its not a matter of size, its a matter of mentality, and Tuck is a pass rusher whereas a 3-4 DE is meant more to occupy blockers.

    Second, as far as the other DE opposite Canty, I do think Cofield can do it if they chose to bring him back, but again, it’s going to basically be a brand new position for the guy to learn.

    For the NT, there are also a ton of guys in FA this year, including Wilfork and Hampton, whoe are both out of our price range, along with guys like Pickett fron GB whp I thinl would be a perfect fit.

    Finally, CES, Kiwi is DEFINITELY not a 3-4 DE, you might as well put Eli there. Again, neither is Tuck. You need 290+ guys who can ocupy blockers and cover 2 gaps. 3-4 DEs DO NOT pass-rush. Tuck and Kiwi would both be extremely out of position there. Bernard would also be extremely out of position at NT. Bernard is a pss-rusher, a 1 gap speed DT type which would be aweful for 3-4 nose. In A 3-4 nose, you want a fat pig who can ocupy multiple blockers and eat up running lanes, think Wilfork, Shaun Rogers, Casey Hampton, and Kris Jenkins. Bernard would be a catastrophe in that capacity.