Saints toying with 3-4 defensive look

Organized Team Activities are a time for experimentation.  The Saints are capitalizing by installing a 3-4 defense during the two-a-day workouts.

According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, usual defensive end Bobby McCray is lining up at outside linebacker in the new look.  Sedrick Ellis and Remi Ayodele are working at nose tackle.  Ellis, normally an interior lineman, also took reps at defensive end along with Anthony Hargrove.
If the new alignment becomes a staple in the Saints’ playbook, end Will Smith would presumably line up across from McCray at outside ‘backer.  Jonathan Vilma, who has experience in the 3-4, would stay at inside ‘backer next to Scott Shanle or JoLonn Dunbar.  Clint Ingram would probably back up Smith and McCray.
The 3-4 seems unlikely to become New Orleans’ base defense, but it gives aggressive coordinator Gregg Williams options.  The Saints do not lack the personnel to pull it off on a situational basis.
UPDATE: According to’s gamebook from Week Three of last season, the Saints lined up in the 3-4 on the first snap of the game.  So this is not an entirely new look for the defending Super Bowl champs.  Gregg Williams appears to be using OTA practices to polish up the scheme, and perhaps use it more often this year.

18 responses to “Saints toying with 3-4 defensive look

  1. HO………LY……SHIT!!! On top of our already turnover causing/smashmouth(ankle) D?!?! Man its great to be a SAINT!
    TWO DAT!!!!

  2. The Saints used some 3-4 defenses last season, but definitely won’t do it full time. GW wants to keep teams guessing at what defensive schemes we will run.

  3. i find very funny the will of most HC in the NFL to switch to 3-4 allignment. Last season we had in both championship 3 of 4 teams that run the 4-3, Vikings, Saints and Colts, the year before we had Eagles and Cardinals with a 4-3 and Ravens with a hybrid 3-4/4-3. In my opinion it’s ridicolous to think that the 3-4 is better than a 4-3, the real important things is to have great players that fit in the scheme you choose.

  4. I love the idea of constantly shifting gears to keep the opposing teams off-base. The Saints mixed it up constantly against the Colts in the Super Bowl and it worked brilliantly.

  5. 4-3 3-4 4-6 goalline bear nickel dime, don’t matter, Saints will reign supreme again now that Gregg Williams is the D coordinator.

  6. Better teach the fourth linebacker the cheap shot tactics utilized by the front four. Keep him in the loop.

  7. Gregg Williams wants a head coach position so bad that he is pulling out all the stops. It will probably take back to back Super Bowls before
    he gets another deserved chance.

  8. The Saints also played with the 3-4 last year in OTAs and training camp. And ran it for the majority of the Buffalo game and a significant minority of their other snaps over the course of the season.
    Gregg’s now-famous (or is it infamous?) boast from last offseason is “We’ve got 27 ways to add up to 11 [players on the field]. I came up with another one last night.” And he’s probably up to 28 or more by now.
    As somebody else mentioned, they shifted things around on a regular basis in the Super Bowl. They played 4-3, 3-4, 3-3-5, and probably a few more. That’s Gregg’s style. So this is not a surprise to any Saint fan, or even somebody who knows anything at all about them… at least anything beyond their “cheap shot artist” reputation from bitter Viqueen fans, at least….

  9. turboreattore, while you are right that 4-3’s dominated the championship fields the last two years, at least seven of the last ten winners played at least part-time in the 3-4.
    Not that I don’t actually agree. It is more important to have a good scheme and players that know how to execute it effectively. But your stat is not “proof” of that. Because the 3-4 does bring at least some advantages as well… if you have those players who can execute it, at least.

  10. # Manbearpig says: June 5, 2010 7:31 PM
    Better teach the fourth linebacker the cheap shot tactics utilized by the front four. Keep him in the loop.
    Some of these ridiculous comments never cease to amaze me. There were several ‘cheap shots’ called during the NFC Championship game that were players just finishing off the play. For example, Hargrove sacked Farve, took him to the ground, but in finishing the tackle they called a Personal Foul.
    The last time I checked they were playing football not 2 hand touch.

  11. Doh… why isn’t there an edit option around here? My comment about seven of ten was supposed to refer to Super Bowl Champions, not conference champions. (Although it wouldn’t surprise me if it was actually accurate for both.)

  12. @jackdiesel
    Finishing off the play…does that mean coming in 10 seconds after its done and laying out the qb?

  13. Manbearpig, you need to take off your I’m a little ***** glasses and go watch that game again.
    There was one late hit on Favre when McCray hit him after he handed the ball off to Harvin on the double reverse. Hell, the personal foul called on Hargrove clearly wasn’t, even the announcer disagreed (and you know how up Favre’s *** they are).
    Just because your QB is old as dirt and fragile doesn’t mean he gets to have a special rule made up for him.

  14. @manbearpig
    Naw, we only do that five seconds after the play is over.
    We leave the 10 second rule to punks like Jared Allen.

  15. Jack I’m not going to need to watch that game again because the season opener is approaching, and the Vikings will piss pound them.
    There won’t be six bailout turnovers this time, and the game won’t be pretty.
    Really, one late hit? I suppose the high low hit wasn’t a cheap one. Your d-coordinator even admitted that the game plan was to hit Favre all game, late or not late, taking penalties if necessary (good strategy as only one was called amongst many that should have been).
    At least he doesn’t have what appears to be a large piece of brown playdough stuck to his cheek. Brees can only dream of being considered half the qb Favre is by the time Brees’ career is over.

  16. Manbearpig says:
    June 6, 2010 3:32 AM
    At least he doesn’t have what appears to be a large piece of brown playdough stuck to his cheek. Brees can only dream of being considered half the qb Favre is by the time Brees’ career is over.
    You are right, Brees will not have half the game/ season crushing picks that Favre has had.

  17. Personally, I think the McCray hit on Favre was legit and should not have been a penalty. When Favre handed off the ball, he became a blocker, so McCray needed to knock him out of the way to pursue the runner.

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