The 3-4 Defense | How to Capitalize on a Gap in the Market

The 3-4 defense is one of the more interesting innovations in American Football, and one that the Pittsburgh Steelers used to great advantage for decades, not just in on-the-field performance, but in talent evaluation. With the NFL draft quickly approaching, let’s take a look at just how the 3-4 defense worked to Pittsburgh’s favor in terms of exploiting the existing market to unearth some exciting talent on defense.

A Breakdown of Defensive Setups in the NFL

First, it might be helpful to explain what the 3-4 defense is and how it works. In a typical base defense, which is also commonly referred to as a 4-3 defense, a team will deploy four defensive lineman and three linebackers in their front seven group of defenders. This is where the name 4-3 comes from. The defensive lineman play up front and play lower to the ground to get leverage against the opposing team’s offensive lineman, while the linebackers stand more upright to assume a greater range of responsibilities.

The 4-3 Defense

4-3 Defense

The primary goal for the four defensive lineman is to rush the quarterback and force a bad throw or sack him for a loss of yardage. A standard play call will have those four rushing; anything more than that is called a blitz, which augments the pass rush at the expense of coverage on receivers.

The 3-4 Defense

3-4 Defense

The 3-4 defense flips the line and linebackers, with three players playing up front and four linebackers standing upright behind them. The four-man rush remains in play as in a traditional defense, but the twist is that now any one of the four linebackers can act as that fourth pass rusher, which can confuse an opposing offense – a huge advantage over the course of a game.

The different style of defense leads to different type of talent requirements. The defensive line as a whole is larger in the 3-4 than in the 4-3. Outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense, who play on the edges of the front seven, are typically larger and less agile than their 4-3 counterparts.

Why This Swap Helped Win Games

While the 3-4 defense has waxed and waned in popularity since the 1980s, the Steelers are the only team to run it continuously since that decade. The advantage that this has given them as a result is that they’ve been able to snatch up valuable players in the draft and free agency that simply do not fit in a traditional 4-3 defense, such as college defensive ends who are too small to play that same position in the pros, but not quick enough to play linebacker in a 4-3. Because these players are in low demand league-wide, the Steelers are able to spend less valuable draft picks on them and sign them to cheaper initial contracts.

One of the best examples of the Steelers exploiting this gap in the market is James Harrison, who went undrafted and unnoticed until the Steelers plugged him into the lineup and let him flourish to the point where he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2008. If the 3-4 defense was more in style at the time, Pittsburgh may have missed out on Harrison as demand drove up interest from other teams.

A photo posted by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on

Luckily for Pittsburgh, they were one of the few NFL teams to run a true 3-4 defense at the time, and that strategy helped them exploit a market inefficiency to find low-demand and little-used talent that fit their team perfectly for a relative pittance.

What This Means for Your Business

By recognizing a gap in the market, and tailoring their strategy accordingly, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to strengthen their efforts in ways other franchises couldn’t. Take a page from their playbook. By incorporating unorthodox strategies in creative ways, your business will set itself apart from the competition.

What has your business done to stand out from others in your industry? How did you go against convention? Was it a successful venture or did it fall flat on its face? Let us know in the comment section below!

Introducing the new Resource Center slider at!

For your convenience, we’ve added a new feature to our website. Our informative blogs, honest testimonials, engaging infographics, and interactive marketing calendar have all been condensed into one easy-to-use slider on the rushIMPRINT site. Simply click the Resource Center sidebar on the right side of your browser window to expand it, and then navigate to the resource of your choice.

Once clicked, the Resource Center menu slides open:

(You’re on it now!) Learn best practices and strategies to help bolster your marketing efforts. In addition to in-depth product descriptions, the rushIMPRINT blog offers ways to implement branded merchandise into your campaign to help grow your business.

We’ve dedicated an entire section of the rushIMPRINT site to customer feedback. Here, we provide unedited messages from our customers. Our aim is to add a level of transparency to our process and offer honest insight on the experiences some of our customers have had working with us.

Find a wealth of useful marketing information at a glance. Our graphics department has taken in-depth research and visually represented it in an appealing and engaging format. These infographics will provide you with the knowledge to make the right choice when it comes to selecting your branded merchandise.

Marketing Calendar
Get quick, one-click access to a vast collection of marketing ideas coupled with corresponding promos. Our product specialists have paired holidays, health awareness occasions, sports events, and more with the branded merchandise to match each event. Many of these products even have 24-hour rush production. Procrastinators, we’re here for you!

The 5 Most Important Rushes in History

At rushIMPRINT, we’ve made a name for ourselves by providing top-quality branded merchandise at great prices. We got to thinking about our name, where it ranks in the world of Rush, and what else we can do to live up to it. We present the result below, the 100% Scientific* and Definitive** Rush Power Rankings!

5. Rush

Since 1968, Canadian prog-rock powerhouses Rush have been rocking faces all over the world with their unique blend of pop-friendly sound and virtuoso musicianship. As inductees into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rush have cemented their status as one of the most legendary acts in rock music history. With 24 gold records and 14 platinum records, they rate as the third-highest-selling rock and roll band of all time. Their artistic triumphs, record-breaking album sales, and decades-long staying power have Canada’s favorite sons holding down the #5 spot on our power rankings.

4. Benjamin Rush

Charles Willson Peale [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Being in two different Halls of Fame is pretty amazing, but you know what beats it? Signing the Declaration of Independence! Benjamin Rush never had a gold album, but he was a physician, a member of the Continental Congress, a professor, and the founder of a college that remains open to this day! Think of the number of lives Benjamin Rush impacted. All of the students who have been educated at his institution. All of the generations who have grown up expecting the freedoms he fought to win. He may not have recorded “Tom Sawyer,” but he did more than enough to snag our #4 ranking.

3. Mt. Rushmore

What Benjamin Rush did not do is become President of the United States. He also, tragically, failed to have his face engraved on the side of a mountain in South Dakota. Signing the Declaration of Independence is a big deal, but it’s pretty hard to compete with four of the greatest Presidents in American history. Washington was instrumental in winning freedom for the Colonies. That declaration that Benjamin Rush signed? Yeah, Thomas Jefferson wrote that. What did Abraham Lincoln accomplish? Oh, right, he ended a Civil War and freed the slaves. As for Teddy Roosevelt, he was a soldier, a police chief, a boxer, a big game hunter, a wildlife conservationist, and a President. That’s why these men had their faces carved into a mountain on a monument that attracts more than 2 million visitors every year. More than enough to capture the #3 spot on the Rush Power Rankings. Mt. Rushmore might have been ranked higher, except for…

2. The California Gold Rush

Without the California Gold Rush, Mt. Rushmore might not even be in the United States today. Maybe the concept of Manifest Destiny made westward expansion inevitable, but there’s no question that when James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, he started a landslide that lead to America’s current sea-to-shining-sea shape. Within one year, California was already a state, and the other Western territories were quickly headed in that direction. A little glint in a streambed may have been the catalyst that helped create modern America. That’s why the California Gold Rush earns our #2 spot.

1. Custom Rush Apparel from rushIMPRINT

rush apparel from rushIMPRINT

Everyone on this list accomplished a lot, but none of them did it in just 24 hours. Thanks to our new custom rush apparel program, you can order high-end branded apparel that ships in as little as 24 hours! No waiting around for your shipment, no worries that your shipment is late, and no need to plan weeks or months in advance. Just log in, place your order, and boom! It’s out the door the next business day. It’s a whole new paradigm in custom branded apparel. This is the same high-quality branded merchandise you’ve come to expect from us delivered in record-setting time!

* Not Actually Scientific
** In No Way Definitive

Earn Your Customers’ Focus in a Sea of Distraction

Over the years, American advertising has grown from humble beginnings into a pervasive medium present in nearly all facets of our life.

Think about it.

If you take a look around you right now, I’d wager there are at least several things within your line of sight that are imprinted with a company’s logo. As I’m typing this, nearly a dozen items on my desk are branded. My décor is minimalistic, too, so most of these logos are on things I use every day-my keyboard, mouse, monitors, etc.

This speaks to the prevalent nature of branding in our culture. Unless you’re clad in homemade clothing and backpacking through the wilderness, nearly everywhere you go is likely to be smattered with a logo of some sort. Pair this branding saturation with the increasingly short attention span of the average adult (8 seconds) and you’ll likely come to one inevitable conclusion:

To earn customers’ attention, you need to say something unique.

A task not so easy in today’s market where in just one minute, Facebook users like over 4 million posts, Twitter sees 347,222 tweets and Snapchat users share 284,722 snaps. As illustrated below, the amount of big data generated every 60 seconds is overwhelming.

With this degree of content overload in mind, it’s clear to see how earning customers’ attention is extremely competitive. This wasn’t the case in American marketing’s infancy. In the late 1700s, marketing consisted mainly of colonists advertising goods on-hand. The messaging was basic, dry, and purely informative. Flash forward a couple hundred and a half years, and marketing has, out of necessity, evolved into a colorful and creative art form.

To stay relevant, marketers are constantly thinking of fresh ways to promote their brand. It’s no longer enough to put your product or service on a billboard and wait for orders to come in. You need to be active and engaging in your messaging. Your need to not only speak to the problems your product or service can solve, but it also must resonate on a personal level with your audience

Native advertising is a medium so clever, you can hardly tell what you’re seeing is an ad. It gets your customers involved by offering an experience beyond the traditional exchange of goods and services. When using this type of marketing, the advertisement often becomes the content itself. Take, for example, the Nationwide Commercial featuring Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning. The commercial portrays Manning singing about his day-to-day life to the tune of the Nationwide Jingle. The most memorable line being “Chicken parm you taste so good”.

Due to its popularity, this spot even lent itself to parody in a subsequent ad; a commercial sequel of sorts.

Is Nationwide promoting any of its benefits with this commercial? Is it clear how their insurance is better than the competition? Not at all, but this was not the purpose of the ad. The purpose was brand awareness and recognition. Nearly everyone can recall their jingle after hearing Peyton sing it. Some have probably even come up with their own versions. You may even be humming it to yourself right now.

In a press release, Nationwide’s Chief Marketing Officer Terrance Williams said “The original ‘Jingle’ ad was one of the highest performing television ads in the history of our brand”. Nationwide’s concept was to bathe Peyton in a relatable light; to strip through the layers of stardom and instead, show him in everyday situations. This led customers to see him as relatable and ultimately associate this feeling to Nationwide. Customers want to buy from relatable companies. It fosters brand confidence.

Although the specific benefits of choosing Nationwide Insurance may be lost in the message, that information isn’t the focus of this commercial. The focus is brand awareness. By gaining this type of brand awareness from just one campaign, customers who need insurance are much more likely to go to Nationwide first. All they need to do at that point is offer at least comparable, if not superior services at competitive prices.

By incorporating an advertisement with a memorable and easily emulated jingle, a superstar quarterback, and a bit of comedy, Nationwide was able to make their brand a household name. They found a way to creatively gain brand recognition with a jingle that was catchy enough to be repeated by everyone around the TV on Super Bowl Sunday. In terms of brand recognition, it would behoove your company to take a page from Nationwide’s marketing playbook.

What are some of your company’s non-traditional marketing efforts? How have you gone beyond your product to engage customers in interesting ways? Maybe you incorporated distinctive product giveaways with your company’s logo. Let us know in the comments below and click through to start customizing your unique promos.


Introducing rushIMPRINT’s new (and exclusive) imprinting method: InvisibleInk™!

After months of intensive research, our ink development team has finally perfected a way of incorporating cutting-edge cloaking technology with our imprinting methods. The result? An imprint so innovative it has to be seen to be believed!

What is it?

    InvisibleInk™ is an embellishing method exclusive to rushIMPRINT. With InvisibleInk™, you’re able to customize promos with your logo like never before!

What it means for you

An expedited design process

    • Never worry about coordinating the perfect color with your chosen promo. InvisibleInk™ is always a match!
  • A more durable Imprint

    • InvisibleInk™ will not smudge, peel, fade, crack, or wear off your merchandise, guaranteed!
  • Faster turnaround than ever before!

    • With InvisibleInk™, your products are virtually ready to ship the moment you finish the checkout process.
  • Dramatic increase in brand awareness

    • By being early adopters of this groundbreaking technology, your company, as well as the recipients of your imprinted merchandise, will be seen as trendsetters in your respective fields. Similar to the way in which mobile phones rendered the landline obsolete, merchandise imprinted with InvisibleInk™ will soon become the new norm. People will come to trust your brand and respect you as the influencers you are.
  • Exponential ROI

    • Clients will be clamoring for merchandise imprinted with InvisibleInk™. As one of the first companies to incorporate these types of promos into your campaign, your sales will dominate the competition. View the chart below for reference:
  • Imprint your promos imprinted with InvisibleInk™ today!

    Choosing InvisibleInk™ is simple. Browse any of our thousands of products as you normally would. Once you’ve selected one that’s perfect for your campaign (might I recommend the Malibu Sunglasses), simply click the “blank” tab under “Choose imprint and quantity”. Don’t worry, “blank” is code for “InvisibleInk”. That’s it! Sooner than you know it, you’ll be opening your box of freshly imprinted promos, hot off the presses.

    Renew Your Marketing Strategies This Spring


    Unless you’ve been glued to your desk hatching plans to conquer the business world, you’ve probably noticed that spring is in the air. The leaves are green, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining. Dull old winter is gone and the great outdoors is refreshing itself for a new cycle. Maybe this year, you should take a hint from Mother Nature and do some refreshing around the office.

    Every spring, the air is abuzz with bees swarming around, pollinating for all they’re worth. Bees are some of nature’s hardest workers, and there are more than a few things you can learn from them and apply in your own business. Don’t let the bees take all the shine. Spring is the perfect time to generate a little buzz of your own. Maybe try a start-of-season sale or launch a new marketing campaign. Tax returns are coming and the weather is turning, so people are going to be out shopping. Make sure they’ve got a great reason to visit your business. Flowers don’t pollinate themselves and businesses don’t grow by magic. Put in some hard work of your own and show those bees what real buzz is all about.

    Historically, spring is the time of year when farmers hit the fields at the crack of dawn, ready to till, hoe, and plant until sundown. Every farmer knows that the work he does in the spring isn’t going to pay dividends immediately. If it doesn’t get done, though, the tables are going to be pretty bare come fall. You have to plant the seed in spring so that, months later, it blooms and goes to market. Business is the same way. Everyone knows that the biggest shopping seasons of the year come in fall and winter, but without laying a good foundation in the spring customers are likely to pass you by during the Holidays. Take a lesson from our farmer friends and don’t expect immediate results. Plant some new seeds, care for them year round, and when it matters most you might just find yourself raking in a bunker crop of cash.

    If there’s one thing that really lets you know it’s spring, it’s the constant trill of birdsong. Birds are Nature’s great marketers. A bird who doesn’t advertise his virtues all day in the spring finds himself with an empty nest in the winter. To find a mate, a bird has to stake out his branch and squawk his virtues from sun up to sun down. It’s not about who’s got the biggest beak, it’s about who has the loudest tweet. You can have the best products and prices in the world and it won’t help you if no one knows. So, this spring, perch up on a branch and let everyone know why your business rules the roost.

    Most importantly, remember that nothing lasts forever. Every year, Nature dies and then comes back, slightly changed, ready for a new season. Without winter, you can’t have spring. Don’t get too attached to the way you do things now or fool yourself into thinking your current situation will last forever. Things have to die in order for the cycle to continue. Constantly be striving to eliminate what needs to go and replacing it with something more timely.

    How Watching Your Brackets Will Help Your Business

    As you probably figured out when your bracket fell to pieces on the very first day, we’re in the middle of March Madness, America’s greatest sporting event. Every year, the 64 best college basketball teams in the country Duke it out (see what I did there?) to crown a new National Champion. Between the shocking upsets, the near-misses, and the unbelievable Cinderella stories, there’s nothing that even comes close to the full month of excitement that is the NCAA Tournament. It’s so exciting, in fact, that you no doubt find yourself sneaking a quick glance at your bracket while you’re at the office or checking scores under the table during your business meetings. Don’t feel bad, though. There’s actually a lot you can learn about business by taking in March Madness.

    While the regular season has its fair share of mismatches and blowouts, every NCAA Tournament game is competitive. At the highest levels of college basketball, the stakes are elevated to the point that teams have to battle for every single basket. Business is the same way. Your competition’s entire livelihood depends on outperforming you. If you lose, you don’t get to go home and try again next year. You’re playing for keeps, and so it’s absolutely vital that you keep your head in the game. That means doing what college coaches do. Scout your opponents and devise a game plan to come out on top. Business is competition at the highest level, and knowing who you’re up against, what they’re good at, and where they’re weakest puts you in a great position to corner your market and bring home the proverbial trophy.

    If there’s one thing that defines March Madness, it’s the Cinderella stories. Everyone loves the Gonzagas of the world, who come sweeping in from out of nowhere and topple the traditional giants. It’s easy to get so caught up in the emotion of a shocking upset run, though, that you miss a fundamental point. Upsets aren’t just about underdogs pulling off miracles, they’re about favorites blowing concrete advantages and coming up short when it matters most. There’s nothing more fatal to a basketball team or a business than complacency. No team is too good or too storied to lose, and no business is too successful to fail. Business history is littered with massive companies who were unable to adapt or grow and fell apart completely. Don’t believe me? Go try to take a photo of a Sharper Image store with your Polaroid camera. If you take anything for granted or underestimate your competition, you might wind up as the next big cautionary tale.

    The one thing that really makes March Madness such a huge event, though, is the brackets. Being able to participate vicariously and follow along with something on the line adds a whole extra layer to the viewing experience. People love being able to participate at home, whether it’s an NCAA bracket or American Idol. Find ways to get people involved in your business too. If you sell a product, give a live demo in your store. If you offer a service, build an interactive environment where you can demonstrate the benefits. The more hands-on your customers can get, the more invested in your business they’ll be.

    So anyway, go enjoy the games. But between the spectacular dunks and the fadeaway jumpers, pay attention. You just might learn something that will make your business championship caliber.

    What St. Patrick Can Teach You About Business

    It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and here in America that means a ridiculous excess of green beer and a lot of inappropriate pinching. Believe it or not, though, St. Patrick’s Day is about a lot more than green garments and public intoxication. March 17 is the traditional date of the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and one of its most important religious and cultural figures. According to legend, the reason Ireland has no snakes is because St. Patrick banished them all.

    That’s certainly cause for a holiday. After all, no one likes snakes. They’re poisonous, and if you leave one lying around, it’s likely to come back and bite you. This year, for St. Patrick’s Day, instead of wearing that tacky shamrock tie to work or getting way too drunk, celebrate by banishing a few “snakes” from your business. Hopefully, your office isn’t actually overrun by venomous reptiles, but chances are you’re leaving some poisonous business practices laying around, just waiting for their chance to bite you. Here are a few of the common “snakes” that modern business owners should chase away this year in honor of St. Patrick.

    Dress Codes

    Obviously, proper workplace attire is important in any professional environment. That being said, requiring your employees who will never interact with a customer to wear a suit and tie to work every day is just overkill. It makes your employees less comfortable, it makes their morning preparation take longer, and it does absolutely nothing to improve your workplace or your employees’ productivity. As long as no one on your team is wearing anything inappropriate or dressing too informally for the occasion, relaxing your dress code goes a long way toward creating a happier, smoother office.

    Excessive Cost Containment

    Being smart with your money is the key to operating a successful company. It’s easy, though, to let thriftiness go too far and actually hurt your business. Eliminating waste is absolutely essential, but cutting corners to the point that it interferes with your day-to-day operations or your growth potential could be the death knell for your business. As the old saying goes, “you have to spend money to make money.” Refusing to do the former could prevent you from doing the latter.

    Inappropriate Use of Technology

    It’s 2016, and there is absolutely no reason to use a fax machine for any purpose. Thanks to e-mail, we can send and receive files of every type instantly. Continuing to use outmoded technology just hampers your effectiveness and is a huge inconvenience to your more tech-savvy customers and clients. On the other hand, just because technology exists doesn’t mean that it is necessary. Yes, videoconferencing can be extremely useful in the right situation, but oftentimes it serves no practical purpose. If you need to show your employees a graphic, e-mail them the PowerPoint. Insisting on a video conference when it’s not needed just slows down productivity, uproots your employees from their desks, and doesn’t really help you in any way. It’s important to embrace modern technology, but only when it actually provides tangible benefits.


    Sometimes, when it comes to management, less is more. It’s only right that you expect your employees to perform, but it’s easy to get so caught up on process that you ignore the results. Companies have a tndency to over-monitor every aspect of their employees’ work day, from break time to internet usage. If an employee is performing admirably and getting their work done, does it really matter if they spend 20 minutes a day reading blogs on their computer? Is it really necessary to clock break time down to the second? As long as performance metrics are being met, how your employees get there isn’t really important. By micromanaging every aspect of their day, you are just showing your employees that you don’t trust them to behave properly. Fostering a trusting, cooperative work environment is a much better strategy for success.

    By chasing away these proverbial “snakes”, you can improve your company’s culture, performance, and workplace morale. And who knows, maybe your team will appreciate it so much that they name a holiday after you.

    Why Golf and Golf Promos are Good for Business

    As the calendar turns from February to March and the snow fades away to reveal (mostly) sunny skies, golfers are ready to trade in their snow shovels for six irons. Sure, some diehards may have still been playing during the winter months, aggressively watching the weather forecast and poaching serviceable days for a quick round. Some may have even played with snow still on the ground (it does happen, and might I recommend colored golf balls if you ever attempt it.) For most of us, though, the start of golf season seems long overdue.

    Golf is one of the few major sports that can be played and enjoyed whether the player is 5, 35, or 95 years old. Athleticism and perfect health isn’t even a firm requirement – though it certainly helps. In fact, the country club next to where I grew up featured an elderly gentleman who played well into his golden years despite a serious health condition that robbed him of both his legs (he played with the assistance of a special custom-built golf cart).

    While it is one of the more difficult sports to pick up despite that approachability, golf can appeal to any type of player. The competitive athlete has plenty of opportunities to test his mettle in tournaments, leagues, or even just a healthy battle against a personal record. The fun-seeker can grab a few buddies (and perhaps a few brews) to play a round or two. Golf even lends itself to the more introverted types, who can flee the hustle and bustle of daily life and grab their clubs and enjoy the peace and quiet of the natural world around them.

    Golf’s general accessibility is also key in the business world. Inviting a client (or potential client) out for a round of golf is a widely-used move, as it allows businessmen and women to discuss issues, deals, and ideas outside of the confines of a stuffy office conference room. Golf is also an excellent way to learn about an individual. The sport’s self-policing nature, challenging difficulty, and somewhat-relaxed environment can allow a person’s true self to shine through – for better or worse.

    custom Nike golf hatThose who are searching for marketing opportunities can also benefit greatly from the sport, as golf has a wealth of equipment that can be branded with a company logo, from sport-specific items like golf balls to more widely-usable gear like custom hats and shirts. Outings for companies and clients are an easy way to distribute that branded merchandise while enjoying a day of food and fun. Numerous vendors and businesses in the Pittsburgh area already use outings as a way to increase awareness for their brand and distribute their merchandise as favors for attendees or prizes for the more competitive player.

    Golf’s accessibility and flexibility can provide an individual or business with a wonderful way to connect with other people in a less-formal and more fun-based environment, whether by use of an outing or event, or just a casual round with a few people. The fact that it’s a challenging endeavor that can be enjoyed for a lifetime is just a bonus.