Should Dolphins Switch to a 4-3 Defense?

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In a recent article, I detailed the good performance of the Dolphins Defense in 2011.  The Dolphins just finished a year where their Defense was ranked 6th in scoring, 15th in total yards, 3rd against the run, and 25th against the pass.  However, former Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan has moved on to the Atlanta Falcons.  So, what does the future hold?  New Head Coach Joe Philbin has not decided whether the Dolphins Defense will remain a 3-4 or implement a 4-3.  However, Philbin’s leading candidate for Defensive Coordinator (Kevin Coyle) comes from the Bengals where they have run a 4-3.  The question is … Should the Dolphins Switch to a 4-3 Defense?

The answer to the question may lie in the players on the roster and what free agents will be let go or resigned.   Ireland recently said “it’s not going to be that big of a transition”.  Is that a true statement?  I thought I would take a look at the Dolphins personnel to see.

I researched the rosters of teams which deploy 3-4 and 4-3 defenses.  In general, the Dolphins roster is much like many other teams that deploy a 3-4 defense — it was built by Parcells for that very purpose.  The NTs and DEs weigh in excess of 290 pounds and the LBs weigh up to 260 pounds.  This make sense because the three defensive linemen are expected to plug up the middle allowing the OLBs to speed rush the edges and ILBs to roam the middle just behind the line of scrimmage.

Alternatively and in general, teams deploying a 4-3 defense utilitize DTs that weight in excess of 290 pounds, DEs between 260 and 290 pounds, and LBs that weigh less than 250 pounds.  The DTs are bulky in order to plug the middle of the line of scrimmage.  The DEs are bulky enough to stuff the run, but agile enough to speed rush the QB.  The LBs are more suited to roam behind the line of scrimmage.


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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Cameron Wake Ikaika Alama-Francis Jason Taylor Jeff Ireland Joe Philbin Karlos Dansby Kendall Langford Kevin Burnett Koa Misi Miami Dolphins Mike Nolan NFL NFL Draft NFL Free Agency Paul Soliai Phillip Merling Randy Starks

  • ChrisLeeuw

    I agree, if we don’t fork over our soul for big Paul, it may be time to switch – and maybe use the first round pick on a DE like Coples. Unless Starks can man the NT role. Should be interesting.

  • StephenDeyerle

    Merling, if I am not mistaken, is actually not an unrestricted free agent this year, as being placed on the Non-Football Injury list for most of 2010 made him loose an accrued season. Not sure if he will be restricted or if his contract got shifted back a year, but either way, it seems that we can keep him if we want him.