Browns practices help Bucs prepare for 3-4 defenses ahead
The Bucs have two joint practices and a game this week against the Browns, and one benefit will be preparing Dirk Koetter's offense for 3-4 defenses, which they'll see in at least six games this season.
The 3-4 look -- with three down linemen and four linebackers, requiring a different blocking scheme for an offensive line -- will be back for the Bucs in games against the Cardinals, Broncos, 49ers, Bears, Chiefs and Chargers.
"We're going to see like eight 3-4 teams over the course of the year, so two extra days of working against a 3-4 are huge," Koetter said.
Koetter said the Browns offense uses some zone read plays as well, so the Bucs defense will get some practice against zone-read schemes. Koetter said the Browns have averaged "six or seven" zone read plays a game, which will help the Bucs for later this season against teams like the 49ers, Seahawks and Panthers.
Asked to explain the nuances of blocking against a 3-4 defense, Koetter was kind of enough to lay things out in specific detail: "You basically have your even-front rules and your odd-front rules. We're working a lot on our odd-front rules. One thing Cleveland does that makes it challenging is they'll mix back and forth, even within a series, they'll switch back between even and odd. One of the problems a 3-4 presents to an offense is they make you be on top of your communication. You're not always blocking the same rules."
Koetter said 3-4 outside linebackers are like big defensive ends, so the goal is to not have your running backs blocking those, with calls that have linemen blocking the outside linebackers and backs are responsible for the inside guys.