The Broncos have made something very apparent to me throughout their coaching search--this team could be headed for a move to the 4-3 defense.
The recent addition of John Fox to the coaching list means to me that this move is much more than simply an idea--it's a potential reality.
Look at the names the Broncos have interviewed, discussed, or sought permission to talk to:
- John Fox (Carolina), 4-3
- Perry Fewell (NY Giants), 4-3
- Eric Studesville (RB's coach), 4-3/3-4
- Dirk Koetter (Jacksonville, OC), 4-3
- Mike Mularkey (Atlanta, OC), 4-3
- Gregg Williams (New Orleans), 4-3
- Ron Rivera (San Diego), 3-4 and 4-3
- Rick Dennison (Houston), 4-3
- Jim Fassel (Giants, Locomotives), 4-3
- Jim Harbaugh (49ers), 3-4
Is this merely a coincidence? Really, only Studesville and Rivera coached a team with a 3-4 defense last year, and Rivera's most notable defense was with Chicago in 2006 where they ran a--you guessed it--4-3.
Do the Broncos have the personnel to make a switch to the 4-3? Well, right now, yes, at least for the defensive line. You might think Elvis Dumervil
is better suited to the 3-4, but we're talking about a guy that had 26 sacks his first three years in the league in a 4-3. The numbers undoubtedly shot up in the 3-4, with 17 sacks in 2009, but like I said, Dumervil had very good numbers prior to that season as well. Great pass rushers find a way. Whether he's standing up or putting his hand in the ground, the Broncos can still move Dumervil around the field and mix things up defensively.
Dating back to the 2009 NFL Draft, I thought Robert Ayers
was a third round pick, and I thought it was as a defensive end in a 4-3, probably playing left end. Ayers is 6'3" 275, and his strength is stopping the run. With two guys in the inside protecting him and Dumervil on the other end spot, there's no doubt in my mind that Ayers could have a huge year rushing the quarterback in a 4-3 defensive scheme, which is what he's better at.
played a three technique position with the Tennessee Titans
, so he's not unfamiliar with the scheme. Justin Bannan
could be a very solid one technique, and even that group of four excites me as a potential front for the Broncos.
Not to mention, Denver has their choice between Nick Fairley, Da'Quan Bowers, or Patrick Peterson in the coming draft. If they move to a 4-3, they could easily draft one of those two big linemen and instantly improve their front four. There are also some very good options in the second round as 4-3 tackles and ends.
Either way, it is obvious to me by the list of guys that Denver is interviewing that the 4-3 scheme is something they are considering, if not planning on switching to moving forward.