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Sons of the 46 defense: Arizona's Desert Swarm defense

Discussion in 'Sports Zone' started by dwmyers, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    Just began running into this. There is a PDF from fast and furious football that gives a basic outline, if you're more interested. There also is a lot of BS posted about the defense, so be warned.

    This is another 8 man front defense with a highly modified 46 "diamond", and frankly, one of the most unusual defenses I've seen in a while. I'm not writing here to talk about it in depth, but to scope out interest in something like this. Enough, and I'll dual post any article I write.

    D-
  2. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    Not enough interest for a dual post, but I'll toss in my link, a photo and some notes..

    John Reed has an excellent football dictionary, very pointed and a little didactic. If you wondered about things like 50 technique linebackers, his site is a place to start.

    Jean Bramel has an excellent series on pro defenses, whose links I collected here.

    When people speak of an odd front in the 4-3 (by Mr Reeds dictionary, that would be impossible), they're speaking of a front where one tackle is over the center, one tackle is in a 3 technique, the ends are outside the offensive tackles.. looking a lot like a 3-4 where one linebacker has been replaced by a lineman. This 3-technique is also called an eagle, and defenses that are double eagle defenses have 2 3-technique tackles. The first important double eagle in the modern era (post 1945) is probably Earle Neale's "Eagle" defense,

    [IMG]

    but the one that caught everyone's attention in the 1980s was the 46. I speak about the 46 on my blog a lot.

    [IMG]

    Arizona's Desert Swarm is a double eagle defense, but one in which one tackle, the whip, is a flex tackle. Yes, flexed as in Tom Landry's flex defense, usually on the off side. However, in this photo, the whip is on the strong side of the formation.

    [IMG]

    And if you are curious, I have plenty of links to deeper articles on the flexed double eagle defenses here.

    I've heard, but can't confirm, that Ted Bruschi was the whip in the fine Arizona teams of the early 1990s. Other sources describe him as a defensive end.
  3. Chocolate Lab

    Chocolate Lab Run-loving Dino

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    Hey David, it's OT to this thread, but I enjoyed your blog post down the page a bit about Dr. Z and the spinner backs. I can't believe Dan Reeves didn't even know what that was. I actually played that position for a short while for a coach who came out of retirement and revived this ancient offense. It was pretty cool to see a relic formation like that produce a team that made it pretty far in the Texas state 5A class playoffs, along with a tailback that was first team all-state and put up some of the best numbers ever in Texas high school.
  4. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    Chocolate Lab,

    As jargon driven as football is, it's entirely possible Dan knew the concepts, but not the language. When Eagle defenses (talking of 4-3s) describe what I knew once as the 4-3 over - but not, as Eagle 43 defenses imply more the dynamic gaps and positional assignments that characterize a Miami 43 - you can spend so much time just fighting what words are being used and how.

    It's also possible that Dan just had a duh moment. You know, the kind you get when you recall the answer to a question after the interview is over.
  5. Chocolate Lab

    Chocolate Lab Run-loving Dino

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    Maybe so... Maybe it was so long ago that it just didn't hit him. But I wonder if he even really played against that kind of offense. If he was born in 1944, he played most of his football in the 50 and 60s, when the T had taken over (as you say). And I think a lot of the single wing offenses didn't bother to spin the backs... I can tell you it took a lot of practice to get the timing of receiving the ball and handing off while spinning in sync, and was probably of questionable value.

    But I'll save that for some post you make on the single wing. :)

    BTW, my grandpa coached on some Texas state championship teams, and when I was a kid I remember him showing me his prized Clark Shaughnessy book on the T. He thought the guy was a genius.
  6. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    A fine Sports Illustrated article on Shaughnessy and his effect on football in the 1940s is here:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1092785/index.htm

    And yes, he probably deserves the accolade of "football genius."

    D-
  7. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    A couple diagrams, which I couldn't resist posting here.

    These are representations of the Arizona - Washington photo a few posts above..

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    If you prefer one style or the other, let me know.
  8. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    The Bears I believe gave the ultimate clinic on the wide open T in the 1940 NFL title game

    Chicago Bears 73, Washington Redskins 0
  9. dwmyers

    dwmyers Well-Known Member

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    As the article I referenced says..

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