Greetings friends. Six months ago when DC Nolan was new news, there was much ado about a transition from 4-3 to 3-4. While no one argued that the personnel was not in place for such a switch, the news was received with much excitement to the knowledgeable Bronconationites, as this has proved a successful model for the Patriots, Steelers, and arguably the Ravens (who use a hybrid model that is difficult for offenses to react to NYTimes Sports).
But what about this transition? Nolan and McD thought it would be gradually added to the system as players adjusted and as the roster took shape of the adequate sized dudes for the job. Watching the '1st string' defense during Friday's game, we saw mostly 3-4/5-2ish line ups during the first half. It didn't seem like there was switching going back and forth.
Was this just like the throwing into the fire of the offense (KO's 17 different formations on passes)? Possibly, as Coach McD's tendency is to get players in the heat for analyzing their abilities more so than for results as Styg recently taught us. Or maybe the defense has just backed off of the notion of keeping both systems on the broiler because it might just be too much to handle. And not backing off the notion like the White House is backing off the 'public option' for health care, but for a more logical reason.
Think about this: last year's opening day roster had 8 LB's (if we include the heaven sent versatility of our ballistic Mormon, Spencer Larsen) and 10 DL. Last year's roster relied heavily on rotating the big guys up front as we had no real proven stars and were hoping to develop young guys and make due with some serviceable vets. That was 18 roster spots for the front 7, and nearly all these guys were activated on game days (except Moss). Now, clearly we had massive injuries to the LB corps, but this was the needed roster spots for a 4-3 with some LBs who were STers week in and week out.
In the case where a 3-4 is in play, the team will likely need more than 8 opening day line backers, and will probably not keep 10 down linemen. Perhaps the talk of using both systems in the off season is easily accepted by the media and the fans, but the logistics of such a suggestion may be cuffed by roster dealings.
I'm a dentist by trade (we'll still have to call 911 if someone collapses when I'm in the room), but there was a time when I thought about applying to both medical and dental school. This would mean taking two difficult entry exams, preparing for interviews at double the number of schools and spending way more money. I realized that I'd still have to make a decision about what I wanted to do down the road, so I did my homework, chose dentistry and didn't look back. Had I been between the two scenarios, I would have stretched myself too thin and compromised the dental preparation I made in result.
The point is, I don't think it bodes well for being in between systems. The coaches will go one way or the other. No sense in making the defense more complicated than it needs to be. I think Nolan will use the 3-4 in 1st and 2nd down, and now the roster looks like it will serve itself better for 3-3-5 in the nickel.
I'm no expert like the talented MHR professors, but with the addition of Le Kevin Smith today (NFL caliber 5 technique DE depth), it seems as though this is the thought process. On to wins and progress. Defense might have some growing pains, especially with the converted ends trying their hand at pass coverage, but signs point to future success.
2008 Opening Day LB DT DE
Larsen Robertson Engleberger
Winborn Thomas Dumerville
Green Clemons Crowder
Koutouvides Peterson (tweener) Moss
Williams Josh Shaw (member him?) Ekuban
2009 Projected OLB ILB DT DE
Dumerville Davis Fields McBean
Haggan Willams Baker Peterson
Ayers Woodyard Powell(?) Smith (new guy)
Reid Larsen Thomas
My guess is Pedescleaux and L. Robinson make it to the PS, and we wish Rulon Davis the best in the near future.
Keep on keepin' on. Peace.