- Fins sign OT Clabo Miami signs former Falcon OT Tyson Clabo to a 1 year deal
- Fins select CB Jamar Taylor Boise State CB Jamar Taylor is the Fins selection at the #54 pick
- Davone Bess traded to Browns Reports that WR Bess has indeed been traded to the Browns
- Miami takes DE Dion Jordan Miami trades up with the Raiders to select DE Dion Jordan
3-4 to a 4-3? It will take time.
With the departure of Mike Nolan and Todd Bowles, the rumor mill on the Dolphins defense is heating up. The local media talks about the possible switch of the Dolphin defense from their 3-4 to the more traditional 4-3. It has some fans excited.
But not me. I’m here to tell you, switching from one to the other is not as easy as you think.
Many fans know the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3….three down linemen and four linebackers versus four down linemen and three linebackers. But it is much more than just that. The entire ideology between the two schemes is different.
In a 3-4 defense, the job of the defensive line is to take on blockers and allow the linebackers to make plays. The NT, like big Paul Soliai (listed at 6’4, 355lbs) job is to control the A gaps between the center and the guard. He needs to be able to command a double team block on every play. They are not going to make a lot ofplays….theyare in a supporting role.
That is why Soliai only registered 27 tackles on the year, but was voted totheProBowlby other coaches and players. They understood what Soliai’s job was and understood that he did it very well.The defensive ends, much like the NT, need to be big, strong guys that can control both the B gap (between guard and tackle) and the C gap (outside the tackle.) They are not pass rushers, but rather they keep the blockers from getting to the next level….ie the linebackers.They need to be tall, like Kendall Langford. (Listed at 6’6 295lbs.) Long arms are also a plus.
In a 4-3 defense, it is the defensive line’s job to get pressure on the QB and cause disruption in the backfield. They do not need to be as big as the line in a 3-4. They need to be quick. Jason Taylor, 6’6 255 was an amazing 4-3 DE for Miami.
The defensive tackles also need to be quick off the ball. Daryl Gardener was 6’5 and 295 lbs. But he had a quick first step.
The linebackers in a 4-3 tend to be a bit smaller and quicker than their 3-4 counterparts. Zach Thomas was only 5’10 240lbs, but he was a hell of a middle linebacker. He was instinctive and quick off the ball.
On the outside, the linebackers tend to be shorter and lighter, allowing them to move quickly from sideline to sideline. Derrick Rodgers was 6’1 227 and a decent outside LB for the Fins for several years.
So what is point? What does all this mean? Well, my question is, does Miami have the type of players needed for a 4-3 defense?
People can point to guys like Randy Starks 6’6 305lbs, and Jared Odrick 6’5 305lbs and say they can play tackles. Odrick played DT in college and does have a first step. Starks was moved briefly to NT where he struggled at times. The move to DT in a 4-3 should be easier, but will still require some getting used to by both guys.
On the outside line, Cameron Wake (6’3 255lbs) could probably transition to an DE spot, but the Fins would need to be on the lookout
for another player to play opposite Wake.
At the linebacker spot, the Fins might be able to make use of Koa Misi. (6’2 251lbs.) Misi played MLB some in college. But I question Misi’s instincts and his size. Typically the MLB is a bit lighter and faster than Misi.
I’m assuming the Miami will move Karlos Dansby to the strong side and Kevin Burnett to the weakside. The strong side usually has the bigger strong guy, which is Dansby. (He played strong side in college.)
So on paper, it looks like Miami has several of the pieces in place. But it isn’t that simple.
So many times players have trouble transitioning from the 4-3 to the 3-4 or vise versa. The NFL is littered with guys who were successful in one scheme but could never transition to the other. Guys like Jonathon Vilma, who was a Pro Bowler in the 4-3 but couldn’t make it to the 3-4 and ended up in New Orleans. Or the Packers BJ Raji who took a few years to become comfortable in the 3-4 after coming from a 4-3 in college.
In addition, it is easier to hide blitzes in a 3-4 defense. The QB will not be to diagnose pre-snap reads as quickly when facing the 3-4. Offensive linemen also prefer to block a 4-3 scheme because it is easier for them to make the correct blocking calls.
Typically, coaches believe it takes about 2 years to successfully transition from one scheme to the other. It takes time to find the right players, and for the players that are transitioning to adjust.
With Miami needing to rebuild its offense, I wonder if now is the best time to switch up the defense as well?
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