Lots of discussion and, might I say, apprehension about bringing in a defensive coordinator who favors the 3-4 defense, as opposed to the current 4-3 base the Giants currently run.
Okay, so let's talk about it. A bunch of people are running the 3-4 right now. And if you remember, the Giants had great success with it in the '90s under Bill Parcells. The trick to running the 3-4, of course, is having the right personnel to do it with. Which means fleet linebackers who can blitz, cover, and stop the run with equal ease, and a big nose tackle to two-gap around the center.
The Jets do it. Miami does it. Green Bay and Dallas do it. Baltimore does it. So do Pittsburgh and New England. All of those teams generally have pretty fair defenses, wouldn't you say?
So why all the consternation about bringing in, say, a Dom Capers or a Bob Sutton or a George Edwards, or even a Pepper Johnson -- someone of a 3-4 mentality? Well, for one thing, head coaches tend to be slow to change. And the Giants have run a 4-3 base since the days of Dan Reeves, so switching up would represent a tremendous sea change in defensive operation. Still, given the results of this season, perhaps such a drastic change will be deemed necessary.
Besides, the Giants already play a 3-4. Not all the time. But situationally. They did it under Steve Spagnuolo, too. Every once in a while, you'd see the three down linemen and four linebackers, usually in some pass rush situation.
But this would be the base formation, and that's where all the questions about personnel come in. To me, it boils down to a nose tackle and the linebackers. Can Barry Cofield, who plays over the center anyway in the Giants' 4-3, serve as a strong, gap-plugging nose tackle in a straight 3-4?
The answer is, I'm not sure. At 304 pounds, he trends toward the light side. And given his past season, where he was often pushed around, I doubt opponents would have to devote a center AND a guard to block him, which kind of defeats the purpose of the 3-4. Then again, if he could put on 10 or 15 pounds of muscle and get all his strength back from the offseason knee surgery that slowed him throughout the season, maybe he could fit in there.
That leaves the defensive ends. Chris Canty probably could serve as one, given his height and wingspan. And wouldn't you just love to see Justin Tuck in a sort of Leonard Marshall role? He's already shown he can work effectively from a more inside spot, so why not give it a try? Besides, he's quick enough to pick off an offensive tackle from there to keep him away from an outside linebacker, too.
The linebackers are a problem. Mathias Kiwanuka can serve as one outside linebacker, certainly. He stops the run well enough, and has enough pass rush skills that I'd feel comfortable with him on the weak side. But Michael Boley isn't really a strongside guy. And what to do with Osi Umenyiora. Maybe Kiwanuka on the strong side, stand up Umenyiora and let him pass rush from the weak side, and perhaps let Boley play one of the inside positions?
And who takes the other inside position? Remember, in the 3-4, the runs are going to be funneled up the gut, so you need a strong-tackling linebacker there. Did anyone this year show that quality? I like Jonathan Goff, but I'm not sure he's ready to become the team's premier tackler.
Chase Blackburn? No. Bryan Kehl? Not yet. And what if one of them has to drop into coverage? You remember what happened then, right?
Still, if a quality mind comes along and happens to be a 3-4 guy, I say they ought to try it. Throw some pounds on Cofield, and then draft a fast linebacker who can cover at No. 15. That would be a good start if the Giants go in that direction.
Might be worth a shot. Yes? No?
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