FanPost

Panther Drill Down: 3-3-5 Nickel Formation

The Panthers have stuck to a typical 4-3 defense at a time when many teams are moving to a 3-4 formation. However something that's really stuck out to me this pre-season is the occasional use of a 3-3-5 Nickel formation, especially on 3rd and long.  You can see an example of this in the first play of this video...

http://www.nfl.com/videos/carolina-panthers/09000d5d81a1786e/Panthers-vs-Titans-highlights

I knew the Panthers would drop a Linebacker on obvious pass plays.  But with our young D-line I never thought we'd be able to pull off a 3-3-5, because it requires you to get a pass rush with only 3 players.  Well as you can see from the video we CAN get a pass rush with only 3 guys!  Wow!  More below...

I found the way the strategy plays out on the line pretty interesting.  You wind up having 3 D-linemen highly out numbered by 5 O-linemen.  The Panther's line seems to spread out just enough so that 2 guys are double teamed and 1 left man on man.  The double teamed guys don't have much of a shot, so the guy not doubled really needs to beat his man quickly.  The Titans played this well doubling Derek Landri at DT and Charles Johnson, leaving Everette Brown one on one with Pro-Bowler Michael Roos.  Landri seems to not try so much to rush the passer, but rather make sure nothings leaking up the middle.  Johnson handles a tough task of occupying 2 blockers, while Brown with an equally difficult task bull rushes Michael Roos back about 3 yards then quickly side-steps over to sack Vince Young.  Amazing.

At other times we rushed 1 or 2 LBs and/or DBs and were often getting to the QB.  But that we could do this with only 3 guys, meanwhile leaving 3 receivers completely covered up with 2 additional DBs still in zone is really cool... At least to me anyways.

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