Watched the Chargers tape of dismantling the Colts from 2010, to get an idea for our offense and defense. I imagine I'll have more later, but the biggest thing I received from this was that Rivera didn't really run a 3-4 last year - he ran a pro multiple - and I take him very seriously (now) about him doing so now.
The 3-4 questions come from sportswriters with very short memory. I, of longer memory, assumed 4-3 - the Tampa 2 will be represented, but so would the Jim Johnson defense. While those will undoubtedly be the case, after watching the 3-4 in action I have no doubts we'll use some of that, too.
Two reasons. One, fairly simply, is that the SLB blitzes enough in the Jim Johnson defense, and from the edge, that it resembles one anyway, and two, because Rivera adapts.
Watching the Colts/Chargers game, it was clear that he was doing what a 4-3 team had done to them. Three weeks before that for Indy was Philly, and new Panthers coordinator Sean McDermott did a great job taking Peyton Manning on - The Eagles won by two points in a game they forced Manning into 2 INT and 3 sacks (the last of which was the most IND gave up all year). Rivera openly states he copied McDermott's gameplan even though NE's 3-4 and KC's 3-4 both were successful as well.
In that game, Rivera did run 3-4 fronts, and his personnel essentially was all 3-4. But he commonly threw four-man fronts at Manning, still zone blitzing much of the time. Nickel fronts were the Johnson-style 3-3. The 4-man lines typically included a stand-up end from the 3-4 OLB, to adjust to personnel.
So a man of his word. A pro multiple defense.
Not many run it - Seifert used it in the 80s, Belichick used it until recently. Most teams never touch it, despite watching teams with an opposing defensive philosophy do well on game tape v/s a mutual opponent.
Most can't run it - 3-4 is most often two-gap, 4-3 one-gap. Even though most 4-3 teams do run an odd-front, their nosetackle is certainly not the same - a penetrating gap-splitter instead of the two-gap's plugger. Rivera inherited an oddity in SD - Wade Phillips' one-gap 3-4, which doesn't require 320 lb+ two-gappers. It requires larger OLB, sure, but otherwise, the 5 inside guys aren't all that different.
so, having to run a 3-4, he adapted. A Pro Multiple, made able with one-gap personnel. You can go from Tampa 2 to Jim Johnson looks fairly easily already, but you can add in the 3-4.
I really have no idea why more teams don't give these looks. A team lining up in essentially the same front play after play, week after week, is very basic compared to what the offense does. There's more room to adjust in a defense that can give you any of ten looks with different players in different places.
With more and more options to look for chinks in the Rivera armor, the more he means what he states. We will have a lot of looks on defense, and with it will come tons of pressure. Hard to argue with that.