INDIANAPOLIS – Making the change to a 4-3 scheme is one thing, but implementing it this offseason and getting everyone to adjust quickly could be quite another.
Obviously, new coordinator Monte Kiffin has plenty of experience in teaching his scheme and will have plenty of help in assistants Rod Marinelli, Matt Eberflus and other coaches who know the 4-3 alignment.
If there is one coach who is aware of the challenge, it’s Denver head coach John Fox. He moved the Broncos from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 before the 2011 season. Last year, the Broncos ranked second in total defense, allowing just 290.8 yards per game. But Fox said it’s not easy for coaches such as Kiffin and Marinelli to evaluate players on film.
“Any time you change it’s difficult,” Fox said Thursday morning at the scouting combine in Indy. “But evaluating guys … because you’re watching tape of them playing an entirely different position, any time there is a change, it’s difficult. But how hard players will work to learn it and master it … that’s what the whole game is about.”
Fox reiterated many times the most important aspect is finding the right player to fit the scheme.
“It takes a lot of hard work,” he said. “I don’t think any of it is easy. You’re dealing with people and making decisions on people. I think at the end of the day … it’s how they perform and how hard they work to get better. Really, that’s the kind of people you’re looking for because their work ethic is critical.”
But while the base defense changed in Denver and will change in Dallas, Fox pointed out it’s not as much of a change as people think.
“Most people don’t realize that everyone is kind of both – 4-3 teams get in 3-4 spacing and 3-4 teams get in 4-3 spacing,” Fox said. “It’s really what fits your personnel best and what’s easiest to teach and for the players to learn. You just try to put people in the best position you can, and that’s what coaching is. You teach them techniques that will help them perform at a high level.”
Speaking of high level, Fox has the luxury of having one of the NFL’s best pass rushers in Von Miller, who finished third in the league last year with 18.5 sacks. Fox said for guys like Miller and the Cowboys’
“Yeah, those guys are great players, great pass rushers,” Fox said. “They’re going to thrive … if you put them on kickoff coverage, they’ll thrive.”