The Basics of the 3-3
One of the most common defensive fronts in football, especially among high school and college ranks is the 3-3 or the 3-3-5. The basic alignment has 3 defensive linemen, 3 linebackers, and 5 defensive backs. There is 1 defensive tackle along with the 2 defensive ends, 1 middle linebacker with the 2 outside backers, and 5 defensive backs including 1 high safety with 2 hybrid safety/linebackers roaming underneath him. These hybrid players have to be the most athletic on the field in order to successfully do their job of stopping the run as well as disrupting the passing offense. They usually line up close to the line of scrimmage making it seem as if there could be up to 8 players rushing the passer.
The Benefits of a 3-3 Defense
There are multiple benefits to using a 3-3 defensive front. A 3-3-5 defense has more versatility as a front than many other sets because of the hybrid players that can cover better than linebackers while still stopping the run. Having more speed and versatility allows coaches to freely blitz and attack the quarterback in different ways than a more traditional front can. A 3-3 can also be used if a team does not have many defensive linemen because of speed that is available behind them.
The Drawbacks of a 3-3 Defense
Although there are multiple benefits stemming from the versatility of a 3-3 front, some drawbacks are present too. By sacrificing size of either linebackers or defensive linemen to use hybrid players, consistently stopping the run could become difficult. If a team does not have a good pass rusher, they will have to account for this by blitzing more often leaving themselves open to quick passing attacks. In the end, a 3-3 defensive front brings much more versatility than a 3-4 or a 4-3 front however it can be punished by the power run game due to this smaller, faster personnel.