Im sure all of you are aware that yesterday former Falcons DC Brian Van Gorder vacated his post in Atlanta to take the Defensive Coordinator position at Auburn University.
Given that, it really opens up the Falcons to many potential avenues that they can pursue on the defensive side of the ball. The top 4-3 coordinator Steve Spagnuolo looks like he is heading to Philly, there are other options for a 4-3 including Raheem Morris, Mel Tucker and Jack Del Rio.
However, one out of the box idea is the Falcons could completely shift their philosophy on defense to a 3-4. I will take a look at who we could bring in to run this 3-4 scheme? and also look at whether it would be a fit with our current personnel.
There are very few coaches that can coach the 3-4 very well. One of those Mike Nolan, could be available. He is currently the DC in Miami, but without a head coach in place his position is up in the air and he could be open to a switch. Getting Nolan, would be ideal as Nolan and Smith have a history being together in Baltimore at the start of the 2000′s. He would also come in with a proven track record being a defensive coordinator or a head coach for the past 17 seasons.
If Nolan was unavailable Eric Mangini could be an option, although his track record is far less impressive than Nolan’s, but he does know the 3-4 being DC for the 2004 superbowl winning Patriots and has also implemented the 3-4 in his stops as a head coach in New York and Cleveland.
An assistant that has been receiving some buzz lately is Steelers’ linebacker coach Keith Butler, who has done a great job with Steeler LBs James Harrison, Lamar Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior among others. I would not be against giving him a look as following the Steelers defensive model would be a great way to go.
Second question to answer, assuming we get a 3-4 specialist DC, would our current players fit? I have briefly broken down each position to show where our current players would likely end up in a 3-4 scheme.
3-4 Inside Linebackers – Sean Weatherspoon, Curtis Lofton and Stephen Nicholas – All would be a natural fit, Spoon could also play some outside linebacker due to his explosiveness and pass rushing ability, which has been proven this season with multiple sacks.
3-4 Outside Linebackers – John Abraham, Kroy Biermann and Laurence Sidbury – Again all would fit very nicely. Abraham (assuming he stays, is a free agent) played in a 3-4 in New York before coming to Atlanta. Biermann and Sidbury are both pass rush specialists and are not that effective in the run game. Getting them in space would help both of them rushing the passer.
3-4 Defensive End – Ray Edwards, Jonathon Babineaux, Peria Jerry and Corey Peters – Ray Edwards has had short comings with rushing the passer, but has been effective in the run game, i think he could be very productive from this spot. Babs and Jerry could potentially struggle im not sure how they would perform in this scheme. I love Peters in this scheme as he could play either NT or DE as he is so strong against the run and could allow other players around him to rush the passer more effectively.
Nose Tackle – Corey Peters – This would be the position that needs to be addressed the most. While i think Peters would do a nice job at NT, i feel he would be more effective as DE. Somebody like Alabama NT Josh Chapman could be an option in round two or three.
While the switch, will probably not happen, it is an intriguing thought and something that should be considered be the Falcons organisation.
What are your thoughts? What do you see happening with our defense?