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The Ghost of the 3-4 Scares DDD

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The Ghost of the 3-4 Scares DDD

Good post from Donald's Designated Driver over at All Kinds of Time about the possibility of the Packers switching to a 3-4 defense. DDD is haunted by images of Ezra Johnson and company and the hi-jinks that ensued.

I understand the 80's Packers haunting you, but dismissing the 3-4 because of them is silly. (I realize he's kiding. Sort of.) But the real point he and others have made is that a switch to the 3-4 would be the kiss of death for Cullen Jenkins and Aaron Kampman. I have always agreed with this line of thinking, but then this mornings article from Tom Silverstein has this interesting bit:

...a 3-4 defense, which would require a change in how the Packers played under Sanders. It would affect ends Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins the most, but in San Francisco Nolan used end Justin Smith in a linebacker/end role and both Kampman and Jenkins are more athletic than Smith.

It's an interesting point, one which I had completely overlooked. Plus, I recall thinking Jason Taylor would be lost when Nick Saban brought his 3-4 to Miami, and Talyor simply went on to win Defensive Player of the Year. (And no - I don't think Kampman or Jenkins are as talented as Taylor)

The point is - a good coordinator, regardless of scheme, can use good football players. This was one of Sanders' main failings. If you have a defense with Kampman, Pickett, Harris, Woodson, and to some extent Collins, it's understandable to lose a few close games. But it is completely unacceptable to be setting records for futility week in and week out. The Packers need to get the best possible guy for the job, regardless of how it effects their personnel.

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DaveK's picture

I agree. He needs to find the best availible defensive coach and hire him regardless of the scheme he runs. A truly good D.C has the ability to adjust the scheme to maximize the talent on roster.

Alex Tallitsch's picture

He has to find the best available STAFF now. I think Winston could be seeing a promotion.

Ron La Canne's picture

4-3 or 3-4 seems to be an issue with many when it comes to the selection of the new DC. What about the 4-3 Sanders vs. the 4-3 New Guy? Even MM said they would be changing the schemes of the defense before Sanders had disappeared into the place old coaches end up. By changing the schemes radically you are changing the way the defense had been taught by Bob Sanders. Reardless of whether it is a 4-3 or 3-4 a lot of work will be done on restructuring the defense in the off-season and in training sessions.

The bigger issue is player talent. Kampman and Jenkins (assuming no lingering effects of the chest injury) are high quality performers and will suceed in any defensive scheme. Two of GB's lesser talented D Linemen, Cole and Montgomery are UFA's and with Harrell likely to have a third back surgery don't plan on any of them being around. That leaves Hunter (hasn't developed to expectations yet), Jolly (Inconsistent at best), Malone (someone elses castoff), Pettaway(IR) and Thompson (showed some potential). A lot of work to do regardless of the scheme selection, in order to return this group to a level required to win close games. Hence, the FA market, and to a lesser degree the draft, should be used to improve this group and compliment whatever system the new DC wants to implement.

As far as the LB's, Barnett is probably more a 3-4 than 4-3 guy anyway. The issue with him is how well does he come back from a serious injury. Hawk had been disappointing the the 4-3 so what's to lose with trying him as the other middle man? Poppinga is not very good in 4-3 and I doubt he'll be any better in a 3-4. Chillar should be ok in a 3-4 with his skill set. Bishop is probably not suited for the 3-4 but he could make the transition. Havner pretty much wasted a roster spot this year. What potential he may have has been well hidden by Sanders. FA market and draft needed here too.

I'm happy there will be change regardless of the exact scheme selected. I think a lot of the problems with the late game defense was attitudinal and that can be blamed on the coaches. However, there is also a serious derth of talent in key line and backer positions that still needs to be addressed. TT, please!

DaveK's picture

It looks like they fired the entire defensive coaching staff except Moss.

Donald's Designated Driver's picture

Yes. I'm only half-joking. :)

I guess my point is that the grass is always greener or something. The 3-4 is not in and of itself any great advantage over the 4-3 (as evidence by the 1980s Packers. Although I was huge Time Harris fan back in the day). It's just different.

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