Yes we've been down this road many times before but hear me out. There are some of the old guard who staunchly believe that the Titans are strictly a 4-3 team and won't ever change. There are also some who are willing to see what Jerry Gray can conjure up with a full offseason. I'm here to fuse those two lines of thinking and try to come up with a compromise of sorts. And no, Golden Grams, as much as I love you and want it to be, this post isn't about you lol. I'll try not to mention Zach Brown too much. Anyways, the good (well that's up to you, the readers to decide) stuff is after the jump. JUMP!
I'm not a proponent of either strict adherence to either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense but believe that elements of both can be successfully installed in either base scheme. Based on recent draft history and Gray's comments at his initial press conference after being hired, it seems that he believes in a hybrid system as well. This along with various reports coming out of BSP that say he's tinkering with multiple looks have me convinced he's leaning towards the idea. Pretty much everyone knows who JG is and his background here so I won't get too much into that.
The hybrid system is a recent phenomenon in today's NFL as more and more college QBs versed in the spread option attack trickle into the league. Yes we still will have the traditional pro passer but it's more evident that the spread QB era has arrived. QBs like our very own Jake Locker, Cam Newton, Michael Vick (back during his pre prison hey day), Vunce and oh yes, the light of my football fan life, Tim Tebow have and will change the game forever. The spread option gurus at the college level such as Urban Meyer, Chip Kelly, Rich Rodriguez continue producing NFL prospects at their respective big name schools so the line will hardly slow down. Certain elements of the 3-4 have slipped into the traditional 4-3 and vice versa to combat this phase. While I also am of the camp that says the wholesale option playbook cannot totally succeed in the pros, various plays will. Call me what you will but I've been a fan of how the Ravens and Patriots defenses were built and maintained during the 2000s.
Here's our base 4-3 scheme (based on current depth chart):
CB ATV FS Griffin SS Babineaux CB McCourty
OLB Ayers MLB McCarthy OLB Spoon
DE Morgan DT Casey DT Marks/Klug/Smith/Martin? DE Wimbley
The basic 3-4 look I'd go into:
CB ATV FS Griffin SS Babineaux CB McCourty
OLB Ayers ILB McCarthy ILB Spoon/Brown OLB Brown/Spoon
DE Morgan NT Casey/Martin DE Wimbley
Random Personnel Musings
As previously stated above, this is the basic 3-4 look I'd go to in certain situations. The versatility of the front 7 allows for creative outside the box thinking (especially the Wimbley signing) (Note: I'm assuming MCM's favorite rookie, DaJohn Harris makes the team in this hypothetical). The secondary remains virtually the same. For example, I'd do this:
- Have Ayers switch to DE with Wimbley/Morgan going to man a OLB spot
- Brown go to inside 'backer and Spoon go to outside 'backer
- Completely redo the LB corps have everyone flip in and out
- Rotate in Klug/Marks/Smith as needed
- Line up Casey and Martin/Harris up front and drop back Morgan + Wimbley into OLBs, blitzing one of them at the last moment.
- Move Ayers down into Morgan's vacated gap before the snap
- Have Morgan, Harris, Casey, Martin, Wimbley on the line and stack up McCarthy and Brown/Spoon
- Sub in Ayers for one of the DEs and LBs
- Drop Wimbley back into coverage to give off the traditional 4-3 look
- Allow Brown to freelance like he did at UNC a bit
- Keep the line as the same in a 4-3 look but bring in Brown as the SS (he has the body type for this)
- Rotate the outside backers from the weakside to strong side
Scenario (crazy quarter/dime time!)
- play a 2-4-5 look with Casey and a DE up front, an unused DE as the extra backer, and load up the secondary with ATV, Griffin, Babs, McCourty, Campbell/Hawkins, and Markelle Martin
- a "traditional" 3-1-7 feature with basically all the DBs in
- a 0-4-7 with no down linemen (better hope the LBs can tackle)
- 2-5-4 in run situations
The multiple looks that Mr. Gray is sure to feature will nothing but help our defense become more potent and take the fight to the offense. The draft has shown us that he's willing to tinker around and I have faith in him to improve with a full offseason for a change. In my humble opinion, the hybrid defense is here to stay as long as there are elite passers in the league. I'd like to thank everyone for reading such a long feature and look forward to your comments. My applause goes out to all candidates for taking the time out to do this and for those lucky few that get selected. Hopefully I achieved the aim to not mention Zach Brown too much lol. Thanks again! NB3456