NFL Nation: Dexter Coakely
May, 6, 2010
By Matt Mosley | ESPN.com
Geoff Burke/US PresswireDespite having never played in a base 3-4 defense, linebacker London Fletcher is excited about the Redskins' new scheme.As some of you know, I've been a bit slow to warm to Jim Haslett's new 3-4 scheme. I realize that Redskins fans have somehow convinced themselves that this transition will be relatively painless, but I'm not so sure.
There's this one little issue of the highest-paid defensive tackle in the league biding his time in Nashville while Haslett installs the defense that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan fell in love with during his football sabbatical. Albert Haynesworth signed up for a 4-3 scheme when he left the Titans for the riches of free agency and he's not convinced the nose tackle role will play to his strengths. For his part, Shanahan doesn't seem to particularly care what Haynesworth thinks and he has attempted to trade him.
But even if Haynesworth eventually finds his way back to Ashburn, Va., it's not as if the Redskins have the perfect personnel for the 3-4. As many as 15 teams are expected to feature a 3-4 base defense -- three down linemen and four linebackers -- in 2010, so it's not like the Skins have arrived early to the party. If they need a point of reference, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers might be a good resource.
He helped the Packers transition to a 3-4 scheme in '09. As my NFC North colleague Kevin Seifert noted, the Packers had the No. 1 defense in the league in early December. But the Packers allowed the Steelers and the Cardinals to combine for 1,000 yards of total offense in two subsequent games, one of which ended their season.
I guess what I'm saying is that the proliferation of 3-4 schemes doesn't necessarily mean it's the only way to go. I seem to recall a couple of 4-3 schemes in the Super Bowl. And we watched the Vikings' 4-3 scheme dismantle Tony Romo and the Cowboys last January.
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