Chiefs Will Blend 3-4 And 4-3
It has been assumed that the Kansas City Chiefs
will switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense.
On Thursday, coach Todd Haley confirmed that the change is being made. Sort of.
“We’re going to try variations of it
,” Haley said Thursday, according to the Kansas City Star
. “We’re not going to force square pegs in round holes.”
The problem is that the pre-Haley/Pioli personnel were acquired for the 4-3 attack. And the Chiefs likely won’t be able in one offseason to accumulate enough players to run the linebacker-heavy alternative properly.
“There are some variations that make it a little easier to transition into this thing,” Haley said. “I knew right away it was going to be a process. You can’t just say: ‘We’re going to do this.’”
So, sooner or later, the Chiefs will make the change.
In contrast, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
— an expert in the 4-3 Tampa Two approach — has stuck with the 3-4 through two seasons in Pittsburgh, likely because: (1) they’ve got the personnel for it; (2) defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has remained on staff; and (3) it works, as that sixth shiny silver trophy confirms.
But with more teams using the 3-4, will it continue to be as effective? Early in his career, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning
had trouble with the Patriots’ defense in large part because he otherwise didn’t have to deal with a 3-4 front. With more teams switching to the 3-4, offensive coordinators and quarterbacks will be spending more time coming up with ways to beat it, making it necessarily less effective in time.
If enough teams adopt the 3-4, then the 4-3 will become the unusual formation that gives offensive coordinators and quarterbacks fits.
And then the pendulum will swing back to the 4-3.
And then back to the 3-4.
The real challenge, as we see it, is to come up with a scheme that makes the most out of the specific strengths of the players on the roster for a given year — and that minimizes their weaknesses. Coaches need to be schooled in every type of available defense, and they need to be able to match strategy with the manner in which their players can execute it, especially in the first year of a new regime.