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Landry's Flex D: For Dummies like me

Discussion in 'History Zone' started by Cbz40, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. Cbz40

    Cbz40 The Grand Poobah

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    The 4-3 defense

    Tom Landry invented the now-popular "4-3 Defense", while serving as Giants defensive coordinator. It was called "4-3" because it featured four down lineman (two ends and two defensive tackles on either side of the offensive center) and three linebackers — middle, left, and right. The innovation was the middle linebacker. Previously, a lineman was placed over the center. But Landry had this person stand up and move back two yards. The Giants' middle linebacker was the legendary Sam Huff.

    Landry also invented and popularized the use of keys — analyzing offensive tendencies — to determine what the offense might do.

    When Landry was hired by the Dallas Cowboys he became concerned with then-Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi's "Run to Daylight" idea, where the running back went to an open space, rather than a specific assigned hole.
    Landry reasoned that the best counter was to take away daylight.

    The "FLEX"

    To do this, he refined the 4-3 defense by moving two of the four lineman off the line of scrimmage one yard and varied which line people did this based on where the Cowboys thought the offense might run. This change was called "The Flex Defense" because it altered its alignment to counter what the offense might do. Thus, there were three such Flex Defenses — strong, weak, and "tackle" — where both defensive tackles were off the line of scrimmage. The idea with the flexed linemen was to improve pursuit angles to stop the Green Bay Sweep — a popular play of the 1960s.

    The Flex Defense was also innovative in that it was a kind of zone defense against the run. Each defender was responsible for a given gap area, and was told to stay in that area before they knew where the play was going.

    It has been said that, after inventing the Flex Defense, he then invented the offense to score on it, reviving the man-in-motion and the shotgun formation.


    But Landry's biggest contribution in this area was the use of "pre-shifting" where the offense would shift from one formation to the other before the snap of the ball. While this tactic was not new — it was developed by Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg around the turn of the 20th Century — Landry was the first coach to use the approach on a regular basis. The idea was to break the keys the defense used to determine what the offense might do.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Landry
  2. 5Stars

    5Stars Here comes the Sun...

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    I believe, to this day, that this is one of the most innovative things that Coach did...
  3. Aikbach

    Aikbach Active Member

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    He also liked to rotate quarterbacks every other play much to their chagrin and defended that method to his grave.
  4. Dave_in-NC

    Dave_in-NC Well-Known Member

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    Bless his soul.
  5. 5Stars

    5Stars Here comes the Sun...

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    He had no choice at that time...and...that was a bad move!

    But, at least he was thinking "out of the box" and trying something!

    If it would have worked....? Teams would still be doing it...

    ;)
  6. Apollo Creed

    Apollo Creed Stackin and Processin, Well

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    Guys have to be familiar with each other to play the flex, its not something you can just suddenly implement, it takes a while for guys to get comfortable with it.
  7. Juke99

    Juke99 ...Abbey someone

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    Landry had an obsession with Lombardi and it's a shame that he didnt beat him in either of the two championship games.

    The two team were completely different. The Packers probably had 7 plays in their playbook and their attitude was "We can tell you what play we're gonna run and you still won't be able to stop it"

    Landry's offense was all about disguising the plays, though multiple formations, pre snap movement, etc.

    On defense, the Cowboy's approach was very cerebreal. The Packers defense was epitomized by Ray Nitschke who would rip your nose off if he had the chance.

    Lombardi was the most successful coach in his era but Landry was an innovator who changed the game forever.

    That loss in the Ice Bowl STILL bugs me because the Cowboys had the better team. There is no way the Packers would have matched up with their speed. But the game conditions more than neutralized that advantage.

    Someone once said that it was just as cold for the Packers that day..which leads to the analogy of a man fighting a shark in a tank and saying that it was just as wet for the man.
  8. 5Stars

    5Stars Here comes the Sun...

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    Tihs Happens...!
    ;)


    It's still good....
  9. Aikbach

    Aikbach Active Member

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    No choice? He rotated Craig Morton and Roger Staubach in the 1971 Super Bowl season until they went in his officeand griped to him.

    Finally they settled on Staubach and saved what was becoming a mediocre season.

    I love Landry but he did a handful of dumb things just like Parcells is at present.
  10. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    wow - lots of great info between cbz and juke - thanks you two! things ilke this is why i love to hang out on boards.
  11. Cbz40

    Cbz40 The Grand Poobah

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    Thank You.......Your thread put me in Karma check mode. :)
  12. Deb

    Deb Zoner

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  13. Juke99

    Juke99 ...Abbey someone

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    Many people think the GB running back has his hands raised signaling "Touchdown"....which would make for a very dramatic picture.

    In fact, he had his hands raised as a way to show the refs that he didn't push Starr into the endzone, which is, of course, illegal.
  14. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    The QB shuttle only happened in one game; then it was over. Landry was trying to decide on which QB and could not make up his mind. Morton had a lot more experience but Staubach was much more mobile. In the end he decided on Staubach- BUT the next season when Roger got injured he kept Morton in even after he was ok; only finally settled on Roger after the miraculous comeback against SF in the playoffs.
  15. Juke99

    Juke99 ...Abbey someone

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    From what I recall, he actually did it earlier with LeBaron and Meredith too.
  16. fgoodwin

    fgoodwin Active Member

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    I don't have the exact quote, but I seem to recall one of Landry's old-timers, maybe Bob Lilly, saying something like, it took years to learn the intricacies of the Flex, but by the time you had it down, it was time to retire!
  17. Mentos

    Mentos New Member

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    Landry's former player Dan Reeves rotated QBs Shawn Moore and Tommy Maddox every play for Denver at Buffalo on December 12, 1992.
  18. Post_70_Cut_Right_90

    Post_70_Cut_Right_90 New Member

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    Very true quote.

    Lilly stated that the specifics (and others players have added their own comments over the years) of the Flex, led to Landry's "System", which Drew Pearson stated was only a success in Dallas because "no one could teach it" [ like Landry ].

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