Switching Defenses? More Likely Than You Think



Well, in the uproar with Quinton Coples being our draft pick there were some interesting comments by both GGN users and the Coaching staff. Coples wasn't necessarily an absolute beast and has some questions about his motor, but was extremely versitle being able to play basically every position on the D-line from D-tackle, 3-4 End and 4-3 End and even OLB. So when asked about him and what spot he would play on our defense Sexy Rexy claimed that;

Rex Ryan absolutely loves versatility. Rex indicated tonight he views Coples as a lineman. He compared him to the likes of Trevor Pryce and Shaun Ellis.

Our defensive line was arguably the only position that we had depth at recently. The starters, Wilkerson, Pouha and Devito all had good seasons. Even our backups have potential, Pitoitua, Ellis, Dixon and MTV all look to have talent. So why do we draft someone who will play on the line? Perhaps Rex is adjusting to the other elements we have on the squad? So which type of defense should we run? I'll make a case for each one.

Making A Case For: The Nickle

There are several reasons for switching out of the 3-4 base defense that we generally run. That doesn't mean we're switching to the 4-3 however. In fact, the best way to upgrade our defense would be to run a form of the Nickle package. For those who don't know what the nickle defense is, the defense would run with 5 defensive backs while having a combination of 6 defensive linemen and linebackers. It can be a basic 4 Linemen-2 Linebacker-3 Corners-2 Safeties, or 3 Linemen-3 Linebackers-3 Corners-2 Safeties or any creative form you have. The problem with this defense is that it sacrifices the run game to defend the pass. Five years ago, this would have been much worse. But in today's passing league it may be smart to actually run this defense. The Green Bay Packers are one such team who decided to switch a few years ago and feature Woodson, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams. The result? Each corner flourished in their own right and Woodson earned (an undeserved) DPOY in 2009.

Adapting to the times is just as important as the players you don't see people running the 5-2 (Goal Line) or 46 defense all the time. The NFL is a passing league now, each of the Superbowl contenders last year had an anemic defense that focused on turnovers and yet still made it there. Why shouldn't we switch to a defense that defends the pass? It can give up a variety of creativity and even help mask our poor safety play. Allowing Revis and Cro to lock up the top two receivers, that leaves Wilson, The two Starting Safeties and 6 linemen/backers to get creative with. We could put Wilson on a TE or 3rd WR while blitzing one safety and keeping another shadowing/covering the TE. The line would look something along the lines of Coples and Wilkerson starting at the edges, then Pouha and Devito manning the middle for the 4-2 Nickle, while rotating them with Ellis (If he starts to get more playing time) at the NT position in the 3-3-5.

Making a Case for: Switching to the Basic 4-3

Based off the players that we have overall defensively, this would be the best way to go. While our defensive linemen did a good job last season, our linebacker depth and talent were pitiful. After we saw Bryan Thomas go down, we had to switch between guys like Westermen, Maybin who last season was a pure pass rusher, and other no names. Harris showed that he wasn't the greatest cover linebacker and both Pace and Scott showed their age and just how long they'll be staying with us. The 3-4 is supposed to feature a pass rushing OLB who can get 10 sacks on a consistent basis every season, and yet Aaron Maybin, who joined the Jets mid-season led the Jets with sacks in primarily pass rushing situations.

The linemen can also be transitioned easily to feature two young guys as the pass rushing defensive ends. Wilkerson and Coples could be those guys who man the edges and rush the passer while Pouha, who was one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the league last year, and Devito who has versatility on the line can play the Tackles and rush from the middle. This would also take out one Linebacker to feature three guys, who would most likely be Harris in the middle, Pace and Scott on the Will and Sam (Outside) Linebackers with guys like Maybin, Thomas and others to back them up. Another sign we may switch to this was the recent hiring of the defensive line coach, Karl Dunbar. He was the defensive line coach who helped form the monster of a line in Minnesota by form of Jared Allen and the WiIlliams Wall.

During his time in Minnesota, the Vikings defense allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL (8,141) and ranked sixth in sacks (242)



Not bad right? By using this formation as well, we would use less guys blitzing and let our guys on the outside go one on one and rush the passer. Jared Allen didn't almost break the sack record for nothing, and Coples could be that guy for us.

Making The Case For: Staying Where We Are

Lets face it, no matter what I write will change the fact that Rex Ryan is a defensive genius who doesn't just run one formation. On paper the defense we run is the 3-4, but we've probably used so many formations that it would make most people's heads explode. Why fix something that isn't broken? We still were a top 5 defense with 5th rated Passing defense. Our guys know the system and we seem to have a season of general consistency within the positions. Pouha has a full season of starting under his belt not behind Jenkins leading up to the start, Wilson and Cro are both in the third year of the system and Revis is a monster (if he actually plays). With the addition of Coples, My guess is that we would start Wilkerson and Coples on the edges and allow Pouha, Devito and Ellis to man the NT position. The linebackers would look the same, with Harris and Scott manning the middle, Pace on one side and allow Maybin and Thomas to rotate in the other spot. As well, we'll be seeing a lot more Rex Ryan getting his hands dirty this season and leaving less responsibility to Mike Pettine. We didn't see exotic blitzes and we didn't see the Ryan Brand toughness we've expected to see based off the 2009 season. Each season, Rex has allowed Pettine more influence, and I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but he wasn't as ballsy as Rex is.

Anyway we do it, the defense has a great chance to become dominant again, but don't be surprised if we make another change. So what do you think? Will it be the 3-4/4-3 or some form of the nickle? Feel free to "Tell me what I did wrong!" in the comments.

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