Friday, March 4, 2022

Dan Hampton and Howie Long—All Positions on the Line

 By John Turney 
Both Howie Long and Dan Hampton were versatile players and moved up and down the line, but it was not haphazard, it was done with reasons, not to just "do it"—they filled packages or schemes.

With Long generally, he'd play left end in base 3-4, then three-technique in the nickel, but sometimes he's play shaded on the center or nose up in nickel as well. When they played the 46 (their version) he was over the center. Later in his career, he'd play left end in a 4-3 and defensive tackle in base.
Hampton began as a left end but injuries caused some changes in 1982 and 1983 where he played some right end, but when the Bears were in their prime he was a left end in base and would be the nose in the 46. And sometimes he'd be a tackle in nickel.
We don't have a shot of Long as 40 RDE but one of the best games we saw him play was in 1984 versus the Chargers when Lyle Alzado was out and Long had to play right end in base and nickel and he was terrific. We will work on getting some shots from that game. 

Meanwhile, here are some examples—

Here they are at left DE:
Howie Long in Raiders base 3-4 at LDE

Dan Hampton in Bears base 4-3 at LDE, 1980

Howie Long in base 4-3 at LDE, 1991
Here they are at RDE
Long in base 3-4 at RDE

Hampton in a base 3-4 at RDE

Base 4-3, Hampton as RDE

Long at RDE in nickel

In each teams version of the 46, both played over the center—

Long played in other situations over the center, in a 33 nickel and a 5-1 nickel—
Long on the nose in 30 nickel

Long in the Raiders 5-man line on the nose

However, when Alan Page was still active, he played over the center and Hampton would play over a guard, at left- or right defensive tackle in a 5-man line.

Defensive tackle—
Here are some examples of Long in nickel at three-technique: 

And here is Hampton as a 4-3 tackle

Career stats for both—


  1. In my notes I noted Long playing a bunch of spots in 1984 vs the Packers. I took a quick look and saw him at RDE in 4 man fronts but didn't catch him at RDE in 34 base. I did see him numerous times at NT in odd 3 man non-46 fronts (time stamps 25:54, 35:38, 116:40, 146:50)

    1. those NTS are in 33 nickle or their 5-1 nickel...they seemed to do those in 1984 and 1985 most. Will look for the RDE 4-3 ...

  2. Wow, I really thought both players were in on more tackles but playing on effective defenses, they weren't necessarily chasing players way beyond the scrimmage line. Both were great at the point of attack but peaked sooner.

  3. I have charted and watched both men intently. Their games are complete and they are very legitimate hall of famers. Long is slightly better but i wish he tackled better.

    Looking at Longs stat line and comparing them to my charts I noticed he didn't have any safeties but in the game on september 7 1986 at denver I noted that Long "used swim move on lineman to draw holding foul in end zone for safety". I suppose he didn't wrap his arms and bring the ballcarrier down but he WAS technically the one responsible for the safety. Thought that was interesting.