One gap, Two gap, and hybrid fronts
In the article, Durkin describes how Fangio’s defensive philosophy has evolved into a hybrid defensive front philosophy. To summarize, the three man defensive front forces the defensive linemen to attack an offensive lineman, and be responsible for the running lanes to either side of that blocker.
Four man defensive fronts require the defensive linemen to attack a single gap between two offensive linemen. Thus, 3-4 defensive fronts are often name “two gap” and 4-3 defensive fronts are similarly name “one gap” schemes. Outgoing defensive coordinator Wade Phillips ran the 3-4 exclusively, but changed gap assignments with his outside rushers to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
But the categorization of 3-4 versus 4-3 defenses has blurred significantly over the years. As defensive coordinators have had time to work with both, they have adapted some characteristics of each to complicate offensive blocking schemes even more.
While each version of a base defense offers different starting points, the vast range of blitz packages, pass defenses, rushers, defenders spying on quarterback, all combine to make the defense custom built for each game for each opponent.