- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Coach Bud Wilkinson—who, at Oklahoma in the 1940s, is credited with installing the first 3--4 system, in order to force RBs inside—wins his first national championship, with the Sooners, to be followed by titles in '55 (above) and '56.
After injuries to Dolphins DE Jim Riley and DT Bob Heinz, coach Don Shula deploys the 3--4. Miami's No-Name D, led by the likes of Bill Stanfill, allows the NFL's fewest points and yards en route to a 14--0 season, including the first Super Bowl win for a 3--4 team. Miami repeats in '73.
Patriots coach Chuck Fairbanks—who, like Wilkinson, coached at OU—popularizes the 3--4 in the NFL with a new two-gap tweak. By the 1980s, that defense is the league's preferred alignment.
After four Super Bowl wins in six years with the 4--3 Steel Curtain, Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll switches to the 3--4 due to retiring personnel (Dwight White, Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood). The Steelers reach 10 wins only once more in the next decade.
Five years after Bill Parcells takes over as Giants coordinator and switches New York from a 4--3 to a 3--4, OLB Lawrence Taylor has one of the best defensive years ever: 20½ sacks for a Super Bowl champion. In 1990 he bags 10½ in another Lombardi-lifting campaign.