The 3-4 defense is a mighty tough scheme to master, but if it can be done, it’d be a strategic main stay in a coach’s playbook. Some of the best defenses in the NFL are built with only three big men on the line of scrimmage. But that didn’t come easy.
Nor did it come easy for the Browns. They had the tools to pull it off, or, at least one of them; the most important one, nose tackle Shaun Rogers. But injuries and a lack of urgency kept him off the field for the majority of the defensive snaps. A lack of attention on the ends didn’t help either.
But the Browns fixed those holes on the roster buy drafting Baylor big man Phil Taylor and Pittsburgh slayer Jabaal Sheard. Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin will take over at the defensive tackle position. The future dynamic duo will be the wrecking ball that will crush opponent’s inside ground games. Rubin busted onto the scene in week two of last season against the Chiefs with six tackles and an interception. While extra curricular turnovers are nice, they’d hope to see a few forced fumbles from his this season. Phil Taylor’s presence opposite him should help, and vice versa.
A pair of forces, one attacking the center and left guard, the other going after the right guard will give opposing offensive lines as much as they can handle. Usually, this gives one on one blockage for the defensive ends, which in turn opens up holes for the linebackers. Too many times last season did the 3-4 defense bounce back to hurt the Browns. They allowed 100 net rushing yards in all but three games last season.
Admittedly, the Browns didn’t have an opposing run stopper last season, maybe even ever. But they could be on to something with the pieces now in place. It’s nothing to be feared, and a presence dreaded by opposing offensives is earned, but the new Browns 4-3 defense has at least one gap plugged.