The first order of business when hiring any offensive minded coach should be to address the offensive side of the ball, right? Especially when that team''s offense ranked near last in the league in several statisical categories?
The Cleveland Browns defense, while making strides last season, is still among one of the worst in the league. Accentuating this fact is that the Browns were 27th in the league against the run, worse than their Ohio AFC North counterparts, the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rob Ryan has become a fan favorite in Cleveland among fans and media alike. Proponents of retaining Ryan would argue that he has the defense headed in the right direction, he just needs the proper personnel in place to successfully execute his schemes. They would go on to argue that comparing the Browns' defense to the Bengals is pointless since the Bengals clearly have more talent on both sides of the ball.
However, as team president of the Cleveland Browns, Mike Holmgren is in the unenviable position of making some tough choices that won't always be popular with fans and media. Firing Eric Mangini may have been one of those moves. And letting Rob Ryan go may also be one of those tough decisions.
The problem with running the 3-4 defense is that it requires a certain type of player to execute well, and finding the right personnel for the scheme could take years, if it at all. Add on to that the fact that most defenses in college run a 4-3 base, and that means the potential pool of players in this scheme shrinks even further.
The Browns would be wise to revert back to a 4-3 and add another explosive cornerback to go with Joe Haden. A 4-3 scheme would also allow the Browns to play Ahtyba Rubin and Shaun Rogers at the same time, thus increasing the likelihood of the d-ends getting to the quarterback, something that didn't happen very often last season.
Bottom line is that despite their progress last season, the Browns offense no experience some growing pains this season, and it will again place a burden on the defense. The defense did make some strides last season, but was still woefully inadequate against the run, and couldn't muster a decent pass rush either. These are things that could be easily remedied with a switch to a 4-3 scheme.