Crowder gives Bills fans sneak D preview

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
12:40
PM ET
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- If you're looking for insight on what kind of transition the Buffalo Bills will go through as they morph into a 3-4 team under defensive coordinator George Edwards, you can do a lot worse than talk to Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder.

"George is like my second father," Crowder said Friday morning along Radio Row in the Super Bowl media center. "The coolest coach in the NFL."

Crowder knows Edwards well. They went through a 3-4 transformation together with the Dolphins, where Edwards was linebackers coach the past five seasons.

Edwards left the Dolphins in January to be the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida, Crowder's alma mater. Crowder shook his head at the idea of Edwards leaving the Gators after three weeks.

"I guess he thought the opportunity in Buffalo was better," Crowder said. "I was upset about the Florida thing, but with the love I have for George Edwards and knowing the type of coach he is, I'm happy for him. Buffalo got a great coach."

The Bills operated out of a Tampa 2 system under head coach Dick Jauron and interim coach Perry Fewell.

Crowder sketched out Edwards' philosophy as one that emphasizes stuffing the run above all else, with pass-rushing the second priority.

"That's all he talks about, stopping the run and then try to get pressure on the quarterback," Crowder said. "He preached that to us the whole time. So, to Buffalo fans, that's what he'll do."

Crowder said Dolphins linebacker Reggie Torbor already had been on the phone with Bills linebacker Kawika Mitchell to give an Edwards testimonial. Mitchell and Torbor won the Super Bowl together with the New York Giants.

How big of a project will it be to switch to a 3-4? Crowder didn't think it would be difficult.

Nick Saban, who preferred a 4-3 defense, brought Edwards to the Dolphins and drafted Crowder. When Saban split for Alabama, Edwards remained on Cam Cameron's staff and continued to coach a 4-3.

But when Bill Parcells took over as football operations boss after the 2007 season, the Dolphins switched to a 3-4.

"I didn't know anything about a 3-4," Crowder said. "He taught me everything. I didn't know about taking on linemen. For me, it was always 'See ball, get ball' my whole career. That's basically what a 4-3 is. Stay in your gap, find the ball and take off running.

"He got me to the level where I can be a starting 3-4 inside linebacker in the NFL."

Crowder foresees defensive tackle Marcus Stroud playing the five-technique position, an outside defensive tackle. The Bills will need to identify the all-important 3-4 nose tackle.

"That nose position," Crowder said, "I don't know if they have that guy. That five can destroy one side of an offensive line. Then you need that big nose to plug the middle.

"It's a different defense, different schemes. There are different blocking techniques. It's a learning curve, but I believe with the talent they have at linebacker, they'll be OK.

"I can guarantee their defense will be better."

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