How often will the Raiders run a 3-4 defense, or will they run it at all?


For whatever reason, there has been a lot of interest by Raiders fans in the idea that the team might move to a 3-4 defense part time if not permanently. From day one, head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver have said that the Raiders will run a 4-3 base defense and that is what they have done. But last season the Raiders did line up in a 3-4 defense, just not very often. If nothing else, Tarver is creative with his play calling and using different formations is one of the things he does to throw offenses off guard.

So will the Raiders use the 3-4 this year? Yes. But the question is, how often?

Many believed that the only thing stopping the Raiders from running a 3-4 defense was the lack of a true nose tackle, one of the most important parts of a 3-4. Without a big bodied NT who can eat up blocks, it’s very hard to be successful with only three down linemen. This year, however, there is no lack of talent at NT. The Raiders have three guys who all can play the position in Pat Sims, Stacy McGee and Justin Ellis.

The Raiders also have a glut of linebackers after drafting Khalil Mack. The Raiders could play a 3-4 with Mack, Nick Roach, Miles Burris and Sio Moore as the linebackers and still have Kaluka Maiava as a backup. There is also a good chance that UDFA Carlos Fields makes the team and can also help out as depth for multiple positions.

So now that the Raiders clearly have the personnel to run a 3-4, we will likely see that a lot more often, right? Maybe not.

I have been wondering about this myself since people bring it up so frequently and decided to jump in Scott Bair’s (CSN Bay Area Raiders insider) online chat to see what he thought about how often Tarver would pull out the 3-4 and his answer was somewhat surprising, at least for me.

Not often at all. People keep asking about this. The Raiders are a 4-3 base defense. They show some multiple fronts. I can’t think of a single time where I saw a true 3-4.

The fact that Bair has not seen the Raiders run a true 3-4 all of training camp is pretty surprising. If they had plans of using a 3-4 defense with any amount of regularity, they would have lined up in that formation at least a few times in the first week of camp. So while the Raiders may have the tools to do it, I would not expect to see a ton of the 3-4 front seven for the Raiders this season.

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