Casey Bradley is returning as the Seahawks defensive coordinator and many fans have been clamoring for the team to switch to the 3-4 defense because of the talented linebackers on the squad.
Bradley's teams have played the 4-3 defense and the team's personnel is set up for that system.
The talent is definitely there at linebacker with Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry, Leroy Hill, David Hawthorne, Will Herring, Ricky Foley, Matt McCoy and Anthony Heygood.
The 3-4 takes advantage of excellent linebackers, but needs defensive linemen with specific talents as the engine to make it go.
The Seahawks confounded many during the draft when they didn't pick a pass rushing defensive end.
The current defensive linemen are: Chris Clemons, Lawrence Jackson, E.J. Wilson, Brandon Mebane, Colin Cole, Nick Reed, Robert Henderson, Dexter Davis, Craig Terrill, Red Bryant, and Kevin Vickerson.
The first piece of a successful 3-4 defense is a 360 pound, zero technique, nose tackle, which the Seahawks just don't currently have on the roster.
This type of defender is expected to cover two gaps and more than one offensive lineman.
The defensive ends in the 3-4 are expected to hold their blocks so that the lineman don't get out to the linebackers. They are not expected to put much pressure on the quarterback.
They are also often expected to cover more than one gap, where in the 4-3, a lineman is responsible only for a single gap.
The Seahawks' defensive linemen don't seem to have the size or technique for the 3-4, they all seem more suited to the 4-3, one gap system where they are responsible for shooting one gap and don't do any stunting or holding of blocks.
With Patrick Kerney's retirement, the Seahawks have lost their main pass rushing threat from the defensive line.
Never fear, Pete Carroll is here and with him comes the Elephant defense.
What exactly is the Elephant defense? Basically, the Elephant position is a stand up defensive end who lines up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle. For all intensive purposes it gives the impression of a 3-4 defense.
All of the gap assignments of the 4-3 lineman remain the same. The benefits are added speed up front and better pressure off the edge.
The obvious candidates for the Elephant position are David Hawthorne, Lawrence Jackson, and Chris Clemons. See article update at end of article
Jackson, who played for Carroll at USC, might be the favorite for the spot based on system familiarity and his 4.5 sacks last year.
Anything that gets David Hawthorne, who had 117 tackles, four sacks, three interceptions, eight tackles-for-a-loss and two forced fumbles on the field more would be a good thing.
Expect the bulk of the pass pressure to come from linebackers Curry and Foley during nickel situations, and Hawthorne and Jackson in the role of the Elephant.
Seattle's secondary should be improved this year with a return to health from Marcus Trufant, and the always steady play of Josh Wilson at the corners.
Number one draft pick, free safety Earl Thomas, is blazing fast and was the best ballhawk in the draft, and Jordan Babineaux is a solid strong safety, who completes a solid defensive backfield that should give the pass rushers longer to get to the opposing passer this year.
Rookies Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor, and veterans Kelly Jennings and Lawyer Milloy offer depth.
Hopefully, Carroll's imported Elephant will dance early and often this year!
Please note the Article Update Below:
Due to information from Bubba, Ken, and Derek, I updated and corrected my research below:
Chris Clemons, who Seattle received back as part of the Darryl Tapp trade to Philadelphia, is penciled in as the current starter at the Elephant position and will compete for time with Ricky Foley, Nick Reed and Dexter Davis.
Thank you gentleman