We’re all moving into a brave new world now. No, this isn’t an order to read Huxley’s book. I’m talking of the shift to the new 3-4 / 4-3 hybrid defense. Let’s take a look at some fronts run by Bill Davis during the 2009 season.
The Rams are in a 2-TE set. The Cardinals have 3 DL. Because of the 2 TEs I’m not sure which OLB is the Predator. I think it would be the player to the far right. He’s lined up more like a DE. Notice how the NT is shaded to the left of the C. The DL to his right (Campbell) is lined up over the G. In a conventional 4-3 this DL would be lined up over the OT.
This is an interesting look. The Colts have 22 personnel (2 RBs, 2 TEs). This is a run formation. Even more so due to the fact that the FB is a DT (Eric Foster). The situation is 3rd/1. As in the first image, the NT is shaded to the outside of the C. One DL is over a G and the other over the OT. The Cardinals are running an 8-man front. They have 3 down linemen, 4 LBs, and SS Adrian Wilson all in the box. Because of the alignment, this isn’t a standard 3-4.
I’m calling this a 4-2-5 look. The LB over the TE is going to be a pass rusher in this look. Notice that the DE to the far left is lined up out wide. The DTs are both head up on OGs. There is no NT in this look. You can see SS Adrian Wilson walking down into the box. He is a hybrid defender. He’s got limited cover skills for a Safety, but is 230 pounds and can blitz and play the run as well as most LBs. Or better.
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Trying to project Eagles into these roles is tricky. I think Fletcher Cox would be natural as the LDE/LDT. That is the Darnell Dockett role in the top 2 images. Cox has the athleticism to take on OTs as a pass rusher if needed. He can anchor vs the run. He can slant to the inside and shoot gaps.
I have no idea what Bill Davis wants at NT. Bryan Robinson (approx 6-4, 305) is the guy here. He’s a 1-gap type. The Cards drafted massive guys, but had bad luck with them. Drafting Star Lotulelei would be interesting for this role. Jesse Williams of Alabama would also be an interesting fit.
The RDE/RDT would be Cullen Jenkins/Cedric Thornton. Depends on who the coaches prefer. The other guy would be a backup.
As for the LB/DEs…Brandon Graham and Trent Cole are going to have to prove they can handle the roles. I did some reading on Davis and he likes to have guys stay left and right, not switch strong and weak sides. That means you aren’t getting a SAM and Predator. You need guys who can handle both roles. Maybe Davis would change that or maybe he thinks Cole and Graham are athletic enough to get the job done. It isn’t like those guys would be covering Rob Gronkowski 40 yards downfield on a regular basis. I’m really curious to see how this all plays out.
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I’ll post thoughts on the final coaching staff on Saturday. Wanted to get this up first since I think we’re all highly curious about what the defense will look like.
I’ve got another set of images to post in the next few days. We’ll take a look at the Cards in some different situations.
Jimmy and I will be recording a new podcast on Saturday.