Should New York Giants Switch To 3-4 Defense?


The New York Giants have always run a 4-3 during Tom Couglin’s tenure as the head coach, but could it be time for a change? The 4-3 defense is not better or worse than the 3-4; when the right players are involved both can work wonderfully. The 4-3 depends on defensive linemen to penetrate into the backfield and be the star pass rushers. In the 3-4 the outside linebackers are the star pass rushers but pressure can be applied from anywhere.

Old School Giants fans are very familiar with the 3-4 defense, Bill Parcells and Lawrence Taylor changed the game with their 3-4 defense in the 1980’s. Is the 2015 season time for the GMEN to get back to this historic pedigree?

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The Giants would need to beef up as the defensive linemen of the 3-4 must be huge space eaters. The nose guard in the 3-4 defense has to be the big bad wolf. The monster that demands double teams.

In the 3-4 defense the linemen are almost like the lead blockers for the linebackers. They often play a technique called 2 gaping in which they knock the offensive lineman straight back and occupy two gaps instead of shooting through one.

The defensive line fills the running lanes and the linebackers flow to the football. The nose guard has to be especially tough because the two interior linebackers are uncovered, if the nose does not do its job the linebackers will be too busy fighting off blocks to even find the football.

Oct 20, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger

(7) runs with the ball as Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker

Jameel McClain

(53) defends during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants have some of the pieces needed for a 3-4 next season. Jason Pierre-Paul would easily convert to an outside linebacker to fear on the outside. Jon Beason is a good linebacker and could flourish in either system.

Jameel McClain has a wealth of experience in the 3-4 defense from his days in Baltimore. He may not be Ray Lewis, but he was not a bad linebacker with the Ravens. McClain is best suited to be the weak side interior linebacker.

If the Giants were to use a 3-4 defense as their base in 2015, they would need to find another outside linebacker and another couple defensive linemen. Johnathan Hankins would be capable of being a strong nose guard and Cullen Jenkins has experience in the 3-4.

They would need to find another starting defensive end in the 3-4 as well as big bodied guys to rotate in. They would need to find a strong side outside linebacker that has some pass rushing skills. I don’t see that player on the roster.

The Giants have the ability to turn into a 3-4 defensive team in the next season. It may be an interesting option for a team that is horrible on defense this season in the 4-3 scheme.