The moment that the conference championship games were set, there was a chance that at least one team that ran a 3-4 defense as their base defense would once again compete for a championship. The first championship game between teams that used the 3-4 as their base defense was Super Bowl XV when the Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in 1980.
Fifteen teams in the league use the 3-4 as their base defense. The Houston Texans will raise that number to 16 in 2011. There are rumors that the Oakland Raiders will increase the league total to 17. The Bears and Vikings are the only teams in the league to never use the 3-4 as their base defense.
Bud Wilkinson is widely recognized as the father of the 3-4 defensive front. Wilkinson devised the scheme at the University of Oklahoma in the 1940s. However, Chuck Fairbanks is the person credited with importing the scheme to the NFL. Fairbanks’ schemes greatly influenced winning teams long after he retired such as the N.Y Giants, New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers have used the 3-4 as their base defense since 1982, ironically one year after Hall of Fame defensive tackle Joe Greene and defensive end L.C. Greenwood retired. Pittsburgh, among others, have also used 2-4-5 & 1-5-5 alignments both variants of the 3-4 scheme.
Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau was the defensive backfield coach while Dom Capers was the defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh. Dom Capers was the defensive coordinator from 1992-1994 before leaving to become the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Once Dom Capers departed for the Panthers Dick LeBeau, became the defensive coordinator.
These two old friends will be the featured bout of the evening. Defense wins championships and it is what will decide Super Bowl 45. Super Bowl 45 will be a closer game than people realize. The fact that the coordinators know each other and the scheme both teams will run Super Bowl 45 could easily come to what defense executes better.
The Packers defense has been awesome since switching to the 3-4. The Steelers happen to be the best 3-4 defense in the league. Pittsburgh has instinctive playmakers at every level of their defense. The Packers have several playmakers on their defense as well.
Both offenses can move the football and a led by outstanding quarterbacks. The Steelers are fundamentally sound, excellent tacklers, will not be fooled and simply do an excellent job of figuring out what an offense is trying to do to them and stopping them.
The championship will have a noticeable Steeler feel to it. Former Steeler players Kevin Greene and Darren Perry are position coaches for the Packers. The Steelers and Packers possess the two best defenses in the league.
The scheme is the same for both teams. You can say that both teams are working off the same script. The Steelers and Packers rank first and second in points and sacks, second and fifth in total yards.
The Steelers are first in the league in run defense; which means that Pittsburgh shouldn’t have any problem shutting down the Green Bay running game making the Packers one dimensional.
However, that one dimension the Green Bay passing game is one of the leagues best. An excellent way to attack a 3-4 defense is to place the four linebackers in coverage as oppose to having them playing downhill and rushing the quarterback. The Packers can put four talented receivers on the field and spread the defense out.
These two teams had a 73-point shootout in 2009 won by the Steelers. This game will not be a shootout. The team that executes better on defense, is balanced on offense and wins the turnover battle will win this game.
As a football fan, I am saddened that this will be the last game of the season. Before you settle in to watch the spectacle that is Super Bowl 45 at a sports bar, Super Bowl party at a friend’s home or at your home don’t forget to thank Eugene Polley & Robert Adler.
These guys invented the remote control and made it possible to comfortably raise the volume on your TV from your favorite chair. The remote has become a close friend most guys are accused of having a death-grip on. While controlling your remote control this Sunday prepare to enjoy a low scoring defensive battle to end the year.