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3-4 or 4-3? What Do The Eagles Think?

Posted Jan 6, 2016

With the start of the offseason brings the beginning of change for the Eagles. Although there are many unknowns ahead, it’s an exciting time for the organization and its players.

With uncertainties come a number of questions, the biggest of which for the Eagles’ defense revolves around scheme moving forward. Will it continue on as a 3-4 defense as it has been for the past three seasons or will it head in a new direction altogether, switching to a 4-3 front?

Until the coaching search concludes, that question will remain a mystery and while it is on the players’ minds, none of them are overly concerned with the differences. The guys in the locker room are well versed in both defenses and determined to make 2016 a far better year, no matter the scheme.

“You just embrace not knowing. You can’t stress or worry about it, and then whatever happens, happens,” said nose tackle Bennie Logan. “You just go in there, new beginning, new start and just enjoy every moment. Learn what you can and just work hard.”

Logan played in a 4-3 scheme throughout his collegiate career at LSU and first learned the 3-4 upon his arrival to Philadelphia in 2013. His ability to make the change and remain dominant on the field is much like that of his teammates, as a number of Eagles have played in and can fit both defenses.

Defensive end Fletcher Cox began his NFL career as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 system and clearly excelled in the 3-4 as well, being named to his first Pro Bowl this past season. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans found success in both throughout the entirety of his playing career, and while linebacker Connor Barwin was first brought to Philadelphia as a player to fit the 3-4 defense, he also believes he can adjust and remain a strong force for the team.

“I’ll be fine. I would love to play a 4-3 D-end,” Barwin said. “I’ve always said there’s not as much a difference at outside linebacker and D-end as people try to make. A 4-3 would be great if that’s what direction the team wants.”

But, what are the biggest differences between the two?

“I think each one has its perks. I think you’re able to zone-pressure a little bit better off of 3-4 without showing your hand. Four-three I think you’re able to just get the guys up front going a little bit more as far as pass rush,” Ryans explained. “The guys are able to really attack more as opposed to two-gap. Against the run in the 3-4, guys have to two-gap, kind of play at the line of scrimmage, where 4-3 guys can attack and get up the field a little bit more.

“Whatever it is 4-3, 3-4, ball is ball. It’s about being able to go out there and make plays. It’s really not that big of change for players. It’s just adjusting to maybe a new style or way of doing things, a new personality. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about going out there on the field and making plays.”

Whether this change is implemented during the 2016 season is still to be determined. Nevertheless, the most important piece to the puzzle is that the Eagles are suited to play either scheme, which is something that will work in their favor as they look to improve on their 2015 performance.


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