Monday, August 1, 2011

Will the Patriots Be Switching to a 4-3 Defensive Alignment?

It is unclear of what changes are about to come to New England’s 3-4 defensive system, but it appears that changes will be made in Bill Belichick’s scheme.

Tom E. Curran of CSN New England indicated that the Patriots could have some defensive changes coming their way, following the recent release of players this Friday. Former defensive end, Ty Warren, who was cut by the Pats this Friday, spoke with Curran and discussed the possibility of their scheme shifting a bit.

“I think the team was looking to do some things differently on defense and I wasn’t in the plan.”

Erik Frenz, at Bleacher Report wrote up a terrific piece today speculating the possibility of change in New England’s near future.

Early indications from training camp sessions over the past two days point to a change in defensive philosophy for the New England Patriots. The Patriots have done this before, practicing in a 4-3 front early and switching back to their standard 3-4 later on.

With the recent acquisition of Albert Haynesworth, it may seem like Belichick could be changing his scheme a bit, as Haynesworth is more fit for the 4-3 alignment rather than New England’s current 3-4—but that does not mean he can’t succeed as a Patriot.

New England ran a sub-package 55.7 percent of the time according to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston. The sub-packages can variate from a two-man front to a four-man front—allowing the massive presences of Vince Wilfork and Haynesworth to shift around freely.


New England may have only ran a 4-3 defensive front four times as Frenz reported, but Belichick has rolled out many different looks out of the 3-4 alignment with roots of a 4-3 front—notice the picture posted to the left.

The Pats line up with three down linemen, however they have four linebackers. It appears that Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes are the two inside linebackers while the other linebackers, Jermaine Cunningham and Tully Banta-Cain, are lined up in a standing defensive end stance.

In my opinion, New England will stay true to it’s colors of being a base 3-4 defensive team, despite folding in multiple variations of different fronts. As New England’s defense gains more experience, the more wrinkles Belichick can add, and with the recent addition of Haynesworth, it appears that Belichick can now roll freely with multiple defensive fronts.