Changing Defensive Fronts is usually a bad idea.

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Fryingpan Sports

Changing Defensive Fronts is usually a bad idea.

By Bill Smith

The NFL is a copycat league. The Ravens and Steelers had the best defenses in the league. They both play a 3-4. Last year there were 7 teams that played the 3-4 as their base defense. There are 9 new head coaches in the NFL this year and you can bet that some of them are going to change their D fronts to match their own style of play. Josh McDaniels, the new coach of the Broncos has already said he is going to switch to a 3-4. Packer coach Mike McCarthy isn’t new but he is changing to the 3-4 as well. While it may make the job of the new 3-4 based coaching staff easier, very seldom is that a good idea. The requirements of a 4-3 defensive front and a 3-4 are very different.

The hardest thing to find in the draft beside a starting quality NFL quarterback is an NFL quality nose tackle for a 3-4. The key to a 3-4 defense is the NT. He has to cause so much havoc on the line that the opponent has to dedicate at least 2 blockers to him on every play. To be really effective, a team needs 2 quality NTs. There are about 5 NTs in the league now that can do that and in 2009 there will be more than double that many teams using the 3-4.

Another absolutely critical requirement is at least 2 outside linebackers that can rush the QB effectively. Those 3-4 teams that have not yet found a quality blitz linebacker like the Browns are doomed to fail. Blitz linebackers are also very hard to find.

The other problem that a 4-3 team has in converting to a 3-4 is the lack of pass rushing 285 pounders to play DE. The teams like the Pack are going to try to make Aaron Kampman a 265 pound DE an outside linebacker. That may work with Kampman but won’t with most DEs. They can’t cover pass receivers and struggle to adapt to their new position.

The teams that run a 3-4 well get an advantage because their opponents don’t see a 3-4 often. Those that try to covert a bad 4-3 into a 3-4 get a worse 3-4. If you don’t have the personnel to make a 3-4 work, you usually stop the run better with the traditional 4-3.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: 4-3, 3-4, Packers, Broncos, NFL Football, NFL Draft, Nose Tackle, Defense, Coordinator, Kampman, Ravens, Steelers, McDaniels, Browns, McCarthy
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No Responses to “Changing Defensive Fronts is usually a bad idea.”

  1. Free Acai Berry
    on Feb 10th, 2009
    @ 2:46 pm

    The Browns brought in the right nose tackle but I’m not sure they will stick with the 3-4 with them changing coaches this year.

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