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Posted Feb. 19, 2009

4-3 not in Kansas (City) Anymore

One of the most questionable moves of the offseason when we look back a year from now will be the Kansas City Chiefs moving to the 3-4 defense.

Adam Schefter of reported this on his blog yesterday, and it simply makes absolutely no sense to me. This could waste the careers of a few players on the Chiefs defense. Let's analyze this move more in-depth and why it makes no sense:

Glenn Dorsey: Dorsey's best fit is as a three technique where he can get upfield and make plays in the opponent's backfield. He does not have the size to play five technique (3-4 DE) or zero technique (nose tackle). He doesn't fit in anywhere on this defense and his career will suffer.

Tampa Hali: This young defensive end out of Penn State generated 15.5 sacks in his first two seasons, and with the trade of Jared Allen, he only registered 3.5 sacks in 2009. Hali does not have the size to play five technique or the elite explosive athleticism to make an easy transition to outside linebacker. He is most comfortable when his hand is in the dirt and he can get physical.

Derrick Johnson: Johnson fell a little bit in the 2005 NFL Draft because the main criticism of him was he could not take on blocks. Johnson has never had a 100-tackle season in his career, and his strength is still dropping into zone as the weakside linebacker and making plays sideline to sideline. With the move to the 3-4, he will have to move inside because he doesn't have the size to play outside. Because he has trouble shedding blocks, he shouldn't see much playing time next season before being a free agent in 2010.

Brandon Flowers: Flowers had a very good season last year with the Chiefs as a rookie, but he struggles in press man coverage. He lacks long speed and cannot be left alone on the island. In the 3-4, you must be able to play press man. I am not sure if Flowers can make the transition to a scheme with less zone coverage.

The Chiefs have spent three first-round picks on the four football players I have mentioned, as well as a high second on Flowers. With the transition to the 3-4, this is probably going to hurt the production of this young nucleus on defense.

I do not understand why Todd Haley and Clancy Pendergast want to do this. The defensive personnel is best fit for the 4-3, so why try to be something you're not?

This is not the first time a team is making the wrong move schematically. Houston drafted poorly and should have just started out as a 4-3 defense.

Mangini's Jets were not very successful with the 3-4 until last season when they shelled out a ton of money for players such as Calvin Pace and Kris Jenkins. They had Jonathan Vilma, who was one of the best, young 4-3 inside linebackers in the league, but simply could not make the transition to the 3-4. Dewayne Robertson was also looked at as one of the most underrated defensive tackles in the league at the time, but moving to the 3-4 ruined his career as well. They did not have the personnel fits on the defensive line to make the transition, outside of Shaun Ellis, and they struggled.

The Chiefs weren't even an average defense last year. However, that does not mean they are devoid of young talent. With the transition to the 3-4, this team is completely starting from scratch, and historically that is not a smart move, especially considering that the Chiefs also have to address the offensive line and quarterback position.

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