There seems to be a growing trend among Buffalo Bills fans that the team needs to switch to the 3-4 defensive scheme this offseason. One of the major reasons they espouse for this change is that our run defense is horrible, therefore we need to change our scheme to one that is becoming more and more popular around the league.
However, the 3-4 defensive scheme is designed more to blitz and disrupt the passing game than defend the run. The Bills pass defense has been more than adequate this season, posting one of the best totals of interceptions in franchise history. No opposing quarterback has dominated the Bills, not even Drew Brees.
The Bills struggled against the run this year, and in order for the 3-4 to be successful against the run, a big dominant nose tackle is needed. The Bills do not have one of those kinds of players on the roster, so that would be even another need added to the list that’s already long enough.
Also we have no idea how many of the current defensive linemen can make the switch to another position. Most likely the current defensive tackles would have to make the transition to defensive end. The current defensive ends would either have to put on weight to stay at end or move to a stand-up outside linebacker.
That last transition did not work out well for the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Kampman. A former Pro Bowl defensive end in the 4-3, he was moved to outside linebacker and asked to drop into coverage. A very big change for a guy used to moving into the backfield on almost every snap. His production dropped dramatically and was a general disappointment.
Kampman and others like him are a reason not to switch to the 3-4 and not just because they didn’t make the transition well. Kampman and others who are successful in the 4-3 but can’t make the transition to the 3-4 will soon be released by their teams as they make the transition.
Teams that remain in a 4-3 scheme will get more talent that is suited to their style of defense. That alone is a good enough reason to stick with the 4-3.
One last argument that proponents of the 3-4 switch use is that a number of the top defenses in the league use the 3-4.
However, three out of the four remaining teams in the playoffs are 4-3 defenses (Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, and Minnesota Vikings) and all three of those teams beat teams that used the 3- (Colts beat the Baltimore Ravens, Saints beat the Arizona Cardinals, and the Vikings beat the Dallas Cowboys).
The defense was not the reason the Bills lost so many games last year. The biggest problem was that the offense stalled most of the time in the second half, leaving the defense on the field for so long. The team needs to concentrate on rebuilding the offense, which would help the defense.
Switching to the 3-4 would only set this team back further. The Bills have more than far enough to go, no need to dig a deeper hole.