Thursday, January 31, 2013
Cleveland's need in the 3-4
By Tim Kavanagh
The Cleveland Browns have made the decision to push forward with a switch to a 3-4 alignment on defense, led by Ray Horton, the architect of the same in Arizona last season. We've seen a number of opinions on how they'll go about doing this, as well as what needs remain to be filled for it to happen.
In comments Wednesday, former Browns LB Scott Fujita -- who has played both in a 3-4 and a 4-3 system during his NFL career -- addressed the issues the Browns will face, and how they may overcome them with a player currently on the roster. The biggest hurdle appears to be finding a strong-side OLB to play opposite Jabaal Sheard, who will be moving to the weak-side OLB position from his DE spot.
"If you have a solid Sam [strong-side linebacker] like a Chris Gocong, who can set the edge [against the run], drop back [in pass coverage], and rush a little bit, and a stand-up, open side end/outside linebacker like Sheard, while keeping your interior defensive linemen on half a man rather than head up, then you can have some flexibility," Fujita explained, per ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi. "From that front, it's easy to slide the Sam back into a stack position, move the interior tackles over a gap, and put the open end's hand back in the dirt, and you've got a traditional 4-3 'over' front."
Whether it's Gocong or a player they find in free agency -- Anthony Spencer is mentioned a lot -- or the draft (which happens to be chock full of players of this ilk), this will be the big question mark as we transition into the 2013 campaign.