Posted: 12:24 pm Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

DEPTH CHART: How to stack Amoeba 4-3/3-4 defense 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH – Despite an offseason of picking up parts to better fit the 3-4, Falcons coach Mike Smith continues to point out that the Falcons will remain a 4-3/3-4 team in 2014.

They have used both defenses under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan over the past two seasons. But they clearly have some better 3-4 parts after adding nose tackle Paul Soliai, defensive ends Tyson Jackson and Ra’Shede Hageman and linebacker Prince Shembo.

“We don’t want to be pigeon-holed as ‘this defense’ or ‘that defense’,” Smith said. “I think when you really study how people play defense, and how we play defense you don’t know what we are, and that’s the key. You got to have guys that play the different roles.”

Smith sounds like former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian describing their old Amoeba defense.

“There are certain matchups you don’t want to expose any of your linebackers to all the time, but when you got an illusion going on somewhere else you can allow that to happen,” Smith said.

Smith explained more on the Falcons’ Amoeba defense and why the team needed to draft four linebackers.

“We want to be as flexible as we can on the defensive side,” Smith said. “We did need to replenish at the linebacker position, and the guys that we’ve added, all four of them have special traits. I think at playing the linebacker position you have to have a lot of flexibility.

Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo (55) celebrates as he's hugged by teammate Stephon Tuitt after a tackle for a loss against Temple during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo (55) celebrates as he’s hugged by teammate Stephon Tuitt after a tackle for a loss against Temple during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

“You have to have the ability at times to rush the passer. Sometimes you got to be able to put your hand on the ground. Sometimes you got to be able to drop, and as you know, as exotic as we try to be in third down situations, we got a lot of guys standing in two-point stances and they’re going to have to do different jobs.

“That was the thinking behind that, and I really like the guys that we’ve added….these are guys we felt were going to give us a lot of flexibility on defense.”

He believes that fourth-round linebacker Prince Shembo’s versatility is special.

“You got to have guys that play the different roles,” Smith said. “I believe Prince can do that. Prince can rush the passer. Prince can drop into coverage. Prince can matchup.”

It sounds like he’s going to get a shot to get on the field early.

“We really like the energy that he plays with,” Smith said. “He’s a guy that when he gets going up the field, slices in the backfield he can make some plays. He’s got big strong hands and an upper body.”

Here’s my early take on how to stack the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses on your depth charts. Everyone is not accounted for (deep reserves and undrafted rookie signees). We will tweak this depth chart as we move forward to the rookie minicamp (friday through Sunday), the OTAs (May 27-June 12) and the mandatory minicamp (June 17-19):

 3-4 AMOEBA DEFENSE

LDE – Tyson Jackson, Jonathan Babineaux

NT – Paul Soliai, Corey Peters

RDE – Ra’Shede Hageman, Malliciah Goodman, Peria Jerry

ROLB – Sean Weatherspoon, Osi Umenyiora, Stansly Maponga, Tyler Starr

ILB – Akeem Dent, Marquis Spruill

ILB – Paul Worrilow, Yawin Smallwood

LOLB – Prince Schembo, Kroy Biermann, Joplo Bartu

RCB – Desmond Trufant, Robert McClain

LCB – Josh Wilson, Robert Alford, Ricardo Allen

SS — William Moore, Zeke Motta

FS — Dwight Lowery, Dezmen Southward

4-3 AMOEBA DEFENSE

RE — Tyson Jackson (vs. run), Osi Umenyiora (vs. pass),

NT — Paul Soliai, Corey Peters

UT — Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry

LE — Jonathan Massaquoi, Ra’Shede Hageman, Malliciah Goodman

WLB – Sean Weatherspoon, Kroy Biermann

MLB – Paul Worrilow, Akeem Dent

SLB – Prince Shembo, Joplo Bartu

RCB – Desmond Trufant, Robert McClain

LCB — Robert Alford, Ricardo Allen

SS — William Moore, Zeke Motta

FS — Dwight Lowery, Dezmen Southward

THE ATLANTA FALCONS 2014 DRAFT CLASS

Round 1 / 6 — Jake Matthews, RT, 6-5, 308, Texas A&M

Round 2/37 – Ra’Shede Hageman, DE, 6-6, Minnesota

Round 3/68 – Dezmen Southward, FS, 6-0, 211, Wisconsin

Round 4/103 – Devonta Freeman, RB, 5-8, 206, Florida State

Round 4/139 – Prince Shembo, LB, 6-1, 253 Notre Dame

Round 5/147 – Ricardo Allen, CB, 5-9, 187, Purdue

Round 5/168 – Marquis Spruill, LB, 6-1, 231, Syracuse

Round 7/253 – Yawin Smallwood, LB, 6-2, 246, Connecticut

Round 7/255 – Tyler Starr, LB, 6-4, 250, South Dakota

27 comments
baseball sucks
baseball sucks

One World Champ in  nearly fifty years of  Pro Sports Football, Baseball and Basketball , maybe Atl. is curse .I love the Falcons but  I would be kidding myself if I really said    and believe the 2014 Falcon team  looks like the best in the NFC South let alone the   nfl.

Dman
Dman

I think our Defense will be better this season BUT we still lack a pass rusher and that will cause problems. At least teams won't be able to run against us like they did last season. I'm hopeful that we can get some pressure up the middle to disrupt the QB.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

tyger......Holmes improved?  He was beaten like a red headed stepchild last year!

RatedRSuperstar
RatedRSuperstar

What about Javier Arenas, another cornerback that we signed in free agency?


I notice that you don't have him listed at all.


They really seem to have an abundance of cornerbacks on the roster. 

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Ledbetter --- Educate em dude!! If you don't know about Tark's amoeba ask somebody.....Mourning & Dikembe know!

Intruder
Intruder

Johnny Football will be in town in November. See what the Amoeba can do with that.

WolfWithanE
WolfWithanE

Our offence now looks amazing! But i think we should have traded back in the first to get Calvin Pryor. Our defence looks like its going to be around the 20th best in the league. Our secondary looks very inexperienced and i feel like every LB we drafted isn't going to be very good by doing research on the players. One injury on the defense or the offensive line and we are done. 


10-6 or 9 -7



tyger
tyger

Offensive Line is the issue...


Defense was on field too much...

No running game whatsoever...

Offensive line was/is porous...


Jake Matthews plug/play...good deal

Jon Asamoah plug/play...good deal

Hawley a fighter...

Blaylock solid...

Holmes improved...


Baker unreliable...

Konz unreliable...

Johnson unreliable...

Carimi unreliable...


Falcons one hangnail from last year...


Stone looks like savior...


JLTee
JLTee

A scheme is only as good as the players playing within it. We needed a pass rush and we failed to address it in both free agency and the draft. The league is a passing league now. Everyone seems to realize that, with the exception of the Falcons. Sure, we'll be able to stop the run. Hopefully, the pressure in the middle will force QBs to make some bad decisions. Moving Brees and Cam "off their spot" hasn't done much for us. They just find a new spot and rip us to shreads.

ftputt
ftputt

They'll all rotate in and out during the game.  So starting doesn't really matter.

matt6464
matt6464

I don't agree with Spoon and several others. My bet:


3-4

LDE JACKSON/BAXINEAUX/GOODMAN

NT SOLIAI/ROBERTSON
DE PETERS/HAGEMAN/JERRY

SLB BIERMANN/SHEMBO/MAPONGA
ILB WEATHERSPOON/DENT/SMALLWOOD

ILB WORRILOW/BARTU/SPRUIL

WLB MASSAQUOI/UMENYIORA/STARR

4-3

LDE JACKSON/BIERMANN/GOODMAN

LDT SOLIAI/BAXINEAUX/ROBERTSON

RDT PETERS/HAGEMANN/JERRY

RDE MASSAQUOI/UMENYIORA/MAPONGA

SLB WEATHERSPOON/SMALLWOOD

MLB WORRILOW/DENT

WLB BARTU/SPRUILL

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

Non of this maters with the week armed Rayan still on the rooster. Flacons had a cahnce 2 get Mansell but past on him. 

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

That's a solid front line with Hageman (6'6, 318 lbs), Soliai (6'4, 340 lbs) , and Jackson (6'4, 300 lbs). I like the defensive front that we have. So no Peters, Babs? Are they depth players now? 


Do we think Weatherspoon is a pass rushing OLB? Why not Osi there instead and have Weatherspoon and Worrilow at ILB with Kroy Biermann at the other spot? Is Prince Shembo good enough to start day 1? Remains to be seen.


And in the secondary, does Josh Wilson really start over Robert Alford who really came on strong last season? Is there something us fans don't know about? We signed two corners in the offseason and also drafted one; does that mean the coaching staff isn't pleased with either McClain and/or Alford?



JSSN
JSSN

@RatedRSuperstar  

Arenas is insurance and a dime package cover option. Unless McClain regresses further, Arenas will be fighting for playing time.

JSSN
JSSN

@BigCrimson75  

Do better than that, tell the Falcons to have one original thought for a change! "Rise Up," stolen from the Hawks! "Protect the Dome (house)," stolen from Under Armor, and finally they can't even come up with an original nickname for a bottom 3rd defense!

HistoryofMatt
HistoryofMatt

@tyger  You undo everything you could possibly ever say by stating "Holmes improved..."


That might be the dumbest thing I've ever read, until I go over to Bradley's blog and find where someone is still saying Uggla should start.

DOrlandoLedbetter
DOrlandoLedbetter moderator

@JLTee OSI as the designate pass rusher could flourish. Coaches obviously plan to fabricate and scheme up a pass rush.

DOrlandoLedbetter
DOrlandoLedbetter moderator

@DawgGoneIt I want to see Spoon outside. Think he can be more disruptive. Osi can come in and play in obvious passing situations. Babs was playing end in the 3-4 is a true quick under tackle. Peters is hurt. Started Shembo because Biermann's coming back from injury. I just gave the veterans -- Wilson and  Lowery -- the start over the young guys.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Holmes improved last season. He looked like the typical 1st year NFL starter to me. His continued development rests with the coaching staff.

ForeverATL
ForeverATL

@WolfWithanE @Barves_Loss_Agian  ignore him… he comes on here daily just to talk about "Mansell" and how he is better then "Rayan" when he can't even spell their names properly. Life is hard when you can't even make it out of grade school...

JSSN
JSSN

@BigCrimson75  

Dang...Rome had the First and Second Triumvirate, the AJC blogs has the Triumvirate of Jerks (BugKiller, Zuzu, and the urchin TFF)! What a hot hell, a fake social scientist, a nut, and a straight on psychotic! It's gonna be a long off season!

baseball sucks
baseball sucks

@ForeverATL @WolfWithanE@Barves_Loss_Agian Can't agree with the Mansell   comment but even so he has the right to  give it and not be pillared and chastise  for how he feels. Matt Ryan doesn't have a weak arm,but    he wasn't  known as the Rifle Arm  type  college  QB and he    hasn't grew a new arm since entering the pros either ,but look Brady and Manning  want knock any receiver down with their passes either. Matt Ryan you have QB  who success  in this league is that of being a Timing passer ,which basically calls for White and Jones  to run routes  and be there to catch balls that have already left Ryan's hands  at a spot. The biggest reason for Ryan sacks problems  were his holding on to the ball  little longer   because he did not trust , and with good reasons   second and third string receivers to  to run  timing  patterns ,Ryan tried zipping passers in  tight spots   which he just doesn't have the velocity to do