Random thoughts from around the NFC East: DeMarcus Ware in the 4-3, some Shrine Game notes, and Peter King starring as Captain Obvious

Apologies again for the slower content the last few days.  Just to explain again, I’ve been sick with some kind of vicious stomach virus that was making its way around New York and New Jersey that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies.  I’m just about getting back to normal, but the last few days (Friday in particular) were brutal. On the bright side, I lost 11 pounds, so there’s that. Anyway, I only bring it up again because the Kiffin news is old, but news I’ve yet to comment on:

• Monte Kiffin was of course made the new defensive coordinator of the Cowboys. The more I think about the transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3, the more I don’t like it, in terms of personnel. Much of the focus in the media has been the following:

  1. Do the Cowboys have the personnel to match what the Kiffin’s Bucs teams had in Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch?
  2. Are the Cowboys CBs physical enough tacklers to hold up against the run, which they be asked to do more of in this defense?
  3. What happens with Anthony Spencer?
  4. Are the safeties going to be thoroughly exposed in this scheme?

Those are all good questions, and could probably merit their own posts, however, one question I don’t think many people are asking is, “How does this affect DeMarcus Ware?” I think most people just think, “DeMarcus Ware is awesome. He can do anything.”  I’m not so sure he’ll be as effective putting his hand in the dirt.  Here was Rich Gosselin’s take on Ware:

The 4-3 scheme also will add a player up front and remove a linebacker. Logically, DeMarcus Ware would move to end and put his hand on the ground. He’s a great pass rusher. What’s the difference between a rush end and a rush linebacker?

I saw the difference in 1993 when the Kansas City Chiefs switched from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 and asked their Hall of Fame-bound pass rusher Derrick Thomas to put his hand on the ground. His sack count fell from 14 ½ to eight in one season. In his first four years as a 3-4 weakside linebacker, Thomas collected 58 sacks. In his next four years as a 4-3 end, he managed only 40.

Thomas had to become more involved in the run game up front and found himself engaged in more direct skirmishes with offensive tackles. Physically, it took a toll on him. And Thomas made the switch to end when he was 26 years old. Ware would make the switch in 2013 at the age of 31.

Gosselin is dead on. Way back when I was teenager I followed those 90’s Chiefs teams closely. Loved Christian Okoye and Derrick Thomas. Thomas was built very similarly to Ware, and their playing styles very closely resembled each other. Derrick Thomas is listed at 6’3, 255, Ware at 6’4, 254.  I remember Thomas’s career begin to dull when the Chiefs went to a 4-3. He went from one of the top 5 defensive players in the game to a guy that was the 2nd best DE on his own team, behind Neil Smith. The transition from 3-4 OLB to 4-3 DE isn’t quite as seamless as some people seem to think.

• I’m heading down to check out the East-West Shrine Game week of practice early tomorrow morning.  It’s the lesser of the two big college “All Star games,” behind the Senior Bowl, but there’s certainly talent there as well. Last season, there were 5 players that participated in the Shrine Game that were drafted by NFC East teams, three Redskins and two Cowboys:

  1. DE Tyrone Crawford, Cowboys, 3rd round
  2. OG Josh LeRibeus, Redskins, 3rd round
  3. LB Kyle Wilbur, Cowboys, 4th round
  4. OT Tom Compton, Redskins, 6th round
  5. RB Alfred Morris, Redskins, 6th round

That Alfred Morris guy turned out to be OK.  Oh, and Josh LeRibeus… Have I ever mentioned that he has a second career as a male model?

37 Shrine Game participants were drafted in total, and 8 in the first 3 rounds.  So there’s talent there.  I’ll be getting my learn on.

• Peter King took a fairly obvious shot at the Eagles today:

Owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a club statement: “There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job. We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts. We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.”

Fine. But would three premier college coaches say no to the Steelers? The Giants? The Packers? Don’t think so.

No shit, Sherlock. Of course those three teams wouldn’t strike out with all three coaches. They all have great QBs and will all be in the mix to contend next season. It’s going to take some time in Philly. What exactly does King take issue with in Lurie’s statement?

Anyway, I’ll leave Tommy Pudding Pops to handle King’s comments.  He also breaks down where some of the national NFL “insider” get their info.  Good read.

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  1. Ed says:

    Gosselin is a hack.

    [i]Finally, the thing the bugged me the most about Gosselin’s quote is that he goes all the way back to 1993 to make a point. Why not choose a more recent example?

    The most recent team to move from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme were the Miami Dolphins, who made the switch from 2011 to 2012. The Dolphins’ leading pass rusher in 2011 was 6-2, 236-pound OLB Cameron Wake, who had 8.5 sacks that year. After being moved from 3-4 OLB to 4-3 DE, the undersized Wake had a career year in 2012, recording 15 sacks, getting named to the Pro Bowl and making First-Team All-Pro with both the AP and the PFWA. Wake is six months older than Ware.

    Another recent team to move from the 3-4 back to the 4-3 were the Patriots, who made the move between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The Patriots didn’t transition their OLBs to DE, opting instead to bring in two new players to play DE. One of those, Andre Carter, had spent the previous season playing OLB for the Washington Redskins. In 2010 the Redskins were running a 3-4 defense, and OLB Carter recorded a mere 2.5 sacks. A year later, at the age of 31, he recorded 10 sacks for the Patriots as a DE.[/i]


    1. D'OH!! says:

      HAHAHAAAAAA!!! Yeah, just awful with his hand in the ground. He’s never done that before!

      1. Jimmer says:

        Wade Phillips always went to a 4 man line on 3rd downs.

    2. Jimmy Kempski says:

      You don’t understand the premise. What were the down/distances of those plays?

      “Having your hand in the dirt” on 3rd and 7, when you know the O is passing is wildly different from having your hand in the dirt every down and taking a pounding in the run game play after play.

      1. come on man says:

        Do you watch Cowboys games? D Ware goes up against LT’s on damn near every play. That will not change if he switches to DE in a 4-3.

        1. Jimmy Kempski says:

          Big difference in what Ware will be asked to do in the run game in a 4-3 than standing up in a 3-4. Collisions at the POA more physical than setting the edge.

          1. deg0ey says:

            It won’t be that much difference. Just means he’ll get monstered by Jason Peters instead of caught in a trap-block by Clay Harbor – the outcome will be the same; lotsa yards for Shady.

        2. SNAFU says:

          EXACTLY!! Ware will be fine. If someone ever actually WATCHED the games, he’d know that!!!

  2. Spokn4 Starrett says:

    Are you sure LeRibeus isn’t the infamous dorky “Star Wars Kid” all grown up?

  3. WIll says:

    Well hold on, the eagles have a franchise savior in Nick Foles. It’s not his fault that no one knows it.

  4. horatius says:

    Jimmy, you are just jealous of LeRib’s dashing good looks.

    Admit it. You jealosy is bordering on obsession.

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