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Mailbag: How Will The 4-3 Defense Work Against Option?

Posted Feb 20, 2013

DYLLAN LARSON
PALMER, AK
How do you envision the new 4-3 defense will fare against the college offenses now being run in the NFC East and West? Granted we were without Lee and Carter, but that final game was a terrible showing against the read option.

Bryan: I think you answered your own question here, the fact that you don’t have your best players on the field make it difficult to play any defense well. I believe you will see NFL coaching staff either bringing in college coaches to talk about defending the offense or NFL coaches heading to these colleges. Some of these contacts might even be made when these coaches head to pro days for the draft. I will say that this 4-3 scheme under Kiffin is about getting defenders up the field and disrupting the offense and with that approach you will see more opportunities to make plays.  

Rowan: I actually think the 3-4 defense might be better equipped to stop some of those plays, but either defense should be able to make the adjustments with the right personnel. I think the poor showing against the read option had more to do with the Cowboys’ starters being out and the Redskins’ system being so strong. Kiffin’s obviously seen his fair share of the option while in the college ranks, and though he’s had his struggles against it, at least he has an idea of what to expect. Rod Marinelli’s group didn’t see the Redskins last year, but his new scheme will give the division rivals something different to prepare for this year.

MICHAEL ECKENRODE
GREER, SC
 
I have seen comments concerning all the line except for Marcus Spears. Will the Cowboys retain him and where does he fit? Could the switch improve his play?
 
Bryan:I hate to say this about Spears because he has always been a standup guy in that locker room and I respect him for that but to me, this is a terrible scheme for him to have to play because you have to play with quickness. Spears was decent as a defensive end because he could hold up blockers and work to the ball but now, it’s about attacking the offense and he just isn’t that type of player.
Whether it’s injury or wear and tear, he just doesn’t move all that well and that is a problem. Again, have to utmost respect for him as a player but feel like they will have to look for better at that one technique.    
 
Rowan:  I don’t see the switch improving his play, though he could rotate in as a defensive tackle. He did register a sack against Big Ben in 2012, but he’s played through knee problems and he’s reaching the tail end of his career after eight seasons on the line. He was a question mark to make the final 53-man roster coming out of training camp, and it’ll probably be a similar situation this year, though he is signed through the 2015 season.
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