Assumed new Detroit Lions head coach, Matt Patricia, who is a big fan of the 3-4 defense, and currently runs the system for the New England Patriots. Patricia has had very good results with it. So the question that must be asked is, will he switch the Lions (currently 4-3 defensive scheme) to a 3-4 scheme?
Do the Lions currently have the personnel to make such a switch? In a 3-4, the defense is arranged with a front row of two defensive ends and a nose tackle.
The second line consists of four linebackers that have the ability to move up to the line of scrimmage as needed.
Two cornerbacks as well as two safeties.
There is an issue on the Lions defensive depth chart. They need more beef on the first line. Here’s a sample:
Ezekiel Ansah, DE 6’ 5”, 275 lbs.
A’Shawn Robinson, DE 6’ 4”, 322 lbs.
Jeremiah Ledbetter DT, 6’ 3”, 298 lbs.
Christian Ringo DT, 6’ 1”, 298 lbs.
Akeem Spence DT 6’ 1”, 307 lbs.
Anthony Zettle 6’ 4”, 270 lbs.
I can make a case that currently A’Shawn Robinson and Akeem Spence could play on a 3-4 scheme. With an outside chance of Ezekiel Ansah, if he can consistently rush the passer and stay healthy.
Big linemen are much preferred because they need to fill the gaps. The bigger the player the more gap they fill. I’m not going to worry about the linebackers right now. The defensive line needs fixed first. They secondary is a solid group.
The reason the New England Patriots run the 3-4 so well is they have beef up front. Here’s a sample:
Alan Branch DT, 6’ 6”, 350 lbs.
Malcom Brown DT, 6’ 2”, 320 lbs.
Adam Butler DT, 6’ 4”, 300 lbs.
Trey Flowers DE, 6’ 2”, 265 lbs.
Lawrence Guy DE, 6’ 4”, 305 lbs.
Ricky Jean Francois DT, 6’ 33”, 313 lbs.
The Patriots have the size up front to roll with the scheme.
The good news for the Lions is they have roughly $50 million in cap space. That will help be because it seems highly probable Patricia will want to stick to what he knows and is good at. Which means the Lions would make the switch.
Will there be learning difficulties? Absolutely. No way to sugar coat it. But in the not to distant future, given draft and free agent success, they’ll be a good unit.
So many ifs, ands, or buts. That’s part of the excitement of a new head coach and a GM (Bob Quinn) who actually seem to know what they are doing.