CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates a sack of Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns during their game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Would it surprise you that while Geno Atkins and Domata Peko are both defensive tackles, their roles are completely difference? Pro Football Focus designed a posting that explored the nature of positions on the defensive line, such as the three-technique and identifying players as the best at those spots on the defensive line. The explanations are basic football 101 most fans should already know -- such as where players line up, what their roles are. As for the best three-technique defensive tackle in 4-3 schemes? Well you probably already figured out that Atkins wins that hands down.
The 3-technique is probably the best known of the defensive line techniques, and has somehow become mainstream parlance when few of the others have. This player lines up shaded to the guard’s outside shoulder, ready to shoot the B-gap on his side of the formation. Entire defenses have arisen around trying to get this player the most beneficial situation possible and allow them to wreak havoc in the backfield–and some Hall of Fame players will owe their busts in Canton to those defenses.
Guys like John Randle, Keith Millard, Warren Sapp were all able to rack up monster sack numbers because of this technique and its fit in a defense. Unlike the first two tackle positions, this technique relies on speed, and explosion, and is the interior pass rush presence in a 4-3. Last season a new prototype for the position emerged: Geno Atkins of the Bengals.
In his first season Atkins displayed some impressive pass rushing ability, but looked to struggle against the run and was rendered a situational force only. Last season, however, he learned how to penetrate and play aggressively against the run and, if anything, his rush only got better. He is now the league’s prototype, despite bigger names out there stealing the limelight.