The heart of any defense is finding a way to adjust to formations quickly using simple rules. It’s important for a defense to be able to adapt to defend a Wing-T set one week and still be able to turn around and defend a Spread team the next. The 3-3 is such a dynamic defense because it keeps the box (the linebackers and the linemen) solid and uses the perimeter players to adjust to different formations.
Formation Adjustments in the 3-3 Defense
The major defender who will adjust to counter formations is the Spur defender on each side. This defender is the primary force player. This makes him the natural adjust to react and change to different formations.
If there are two receivers to his side the Spur’s alignment is very simple. If there are two receivers split out he will apex the second receiver and the tackle by aligning at the point between the two players at about 2-3 yards.
Alignment vs. Twins with TE
If there is a Tight End is on his side he will step down and play an outside shade against the Tight End. He will play through the Tight End’s outside shoulder and jam the shoulder back towards the ball at the snap. This allows him to maintain his leverage in the D gap while still shrinking the C gap and stopping the Tight End from getting a free release. If the Spur reads a pass he will drop into the flat and attempt to get under any pass that may be coming to #1.
Alignment vs. 3 x 1
If there is only 1 receiver to his side and only 1 back in the backfield he needs to help the frontside of the formation. In this case he will still keep his assignment of run support to his side of the formation. To support the front side he will stack back at Safety level over the Guard to his side. This will allow him to take any deep crosser on a pass while still being able to stop the run on the weak side of the formation.
In the event that the Spur gets trips to his side he will still keep the majority of his rules the same. He will apex the #2 and #3 receiver. He will still have the flats in pass defense but now he will have support from the trip side linebacker who has widened out a little bit and is now C Gap responsible. When there are trips the Free Safety will support them by coming over and aligning over #3. He will combine with the Cornerback on the trips side to have cover the deep half of the field.
Alignment vs. 3 x 1 (with TE (Y))
In the event that the offense lines up in a Tight End Trips formation the rules will still remain the same for the defense only the trips side linebacker will step up and align directly in front of the Tight End. This linebacker will now be responsible for the C gap which will allow the Spur to be responsible for the flats.
This formation adjustment system is very easy and straightforward. By keeping the rules very simple the defense is able to get into position, focus on their keys and play great defense.
(See Also) 3-3 Stack Defense
(See Also) Overload Blitz 3-3-5 Stack