NEW ORLEANS — Saints quarterback Drew Brees can see why his coach has decided to switch to a 3-4 defense.
But he knows ultimately it’s about more than the scheme.
“Just because you throw a 3-4 out there doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful,” Brees said. “You’ve got to be able to execute it.”
One of the first moves Saints coach Sean Payton made after being reinstated was firing defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who runs a base 4-3 defense. In 2012, Spagnuolo's unit allowed more yards than any other in NFL history.
In Brees’ past, one of the storylines has been that he has generally fared a little worse against a 3-4 than a 4-3, where four down linemen are backed by three linebackers.
Though the 3-4 is becoming more common, it’s still not the go-to base defense for much of the NFL. And that helps its success, Brees said.
The factors that stand out to Brees have to do with just who is rushing and who isn’t in a 3-4, which places smaller, more athletic linebackers on the outside who can run down quicker offensive players.
“You really have at least five rushers on the field at one time instead of four with the ability to bring a lot of pressures where you’ve got all these hybrid guys on the field that, hey, are they going to rush the passer?” Brees said. “You really don’t want your running back blocking them. Are they dropping in coverage? What other pressure packages do they have? They can be more multiple, which can be problematic for an offense.”