It seems as if people are getting too hung up on formations and dictionary definitions of positions. By no means is it a terrible thing to do. Using history as a barometer and gauging it against mountains of statistical analysis is probably the most effective way to preview what someone should be able to do in any given situation.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes. On paper Ryan’s system may resemble the 3-4 best, but where’s the fun in that? A base package can’t possibly be “Organized Chaos” could it?
I’m a self-centered New York Jets fan with a girlfriend who fell in love with the Ravens last season. And if there’s one thing I learned while watching that Ravens’ defense is that there’s no such thing as a base 3-4.
In January, Rich Cimini wrote this regarding Rex Ryan’s defense:
His Ravens had a base 3-4 defense, but they used multiple fronts. Ryan coached the 4-3 in 2000, when they won the Super Bowl. He’s also well-versed in the “46″ defense.
“Multiple fronts,” immediately pops out in that description.
These are no longer Eric Mangini’s Jets.
Gone are the days where we can watch the Jets defense on field and easily identify who’s going to be covering who. It’s no longer a defense where stunts, motions, and shifts are a rarity; no longer a defense for QBs like Ryan Fitzpatrick or JaMarcus Russell to pick apart.
When people look at Vernon Gholston without expecting much, and say things like, “He’s too small to be a 3-4 defensive end,” it’s almost an insult to Ryan’s defense before we even see it in action.
The first time Terrell Suggs was locked down with the franchise tag, there was a dilemma regarding his one-year salary. Suggs played standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Should he have been paid like a defensive end or an outside linebacker, when he took a substantial number of snaps at both?
In the end, they found an entirely new pay grade for him.
But by definition, Suggs is undersized as a 3-4 DE. At 6’3″, 260-pounds, Suggs comes in weighing a whopping four pounds less than Gholston. So why can’t Gholston see action where he was most comfortable in college? Why should he be restricted to an OLB role?
There’s no reason why the Jets can’t come out in a 4-4 defensive package when an offensive scenario calls for it.
Imagine the chaos with Gholston, Coleman, Jenkins, and Ellis with their hands in the dirt and Pace, Harris, Scott, and Thomas threatening to blitz or drop into coverage.
No one is saying that’s going to be the new base package. The point is to say that there’s no reason to believe Ryan won’t deviate from the way things are supposed to be drawn up when it’s most appropriate.
It’s the offseason; embrace the possibilities!