During Super Bowl media days, Vic Fangio had some interesting comments about how the cylical nature of NFL defenses and teams switching from the 3-4 to the 4-3 and vice versa. Fangio added that today's NFL is about 50-50 between the two defensive schemes.
Cleveland's defense won't fit cleanly into either one of those schemes next season under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Last week, Horton told a local radio station that they'd be a 3-4 defense, mirroring the scheme of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but earlier this week he retracted that statement, noting that he doesn't want his defense carrying a label of any kind.
“We are going to be a defense that gives offenses problems," Horton explained. "I don’t like to get pigeonholed into, ‘Well, he is this.’ We’re going to be a team that looks at the offense and tries to take away what they do best. That may mean one snap being 5-2, the next snap it may be 4-4. It will be predicated by what the offense does."
He went on to explain that it was more important to him to create a system where their roster is fully utilized, rather than fit a preconceived scheme.
“I don’t really care what we are on defense. I want to know what are we going to look like. We’re going to look like an aggressive, forward attacking defense that has big men that can run and little men that can hit, and I’ve seen that on tape." Horton said in the Akron Beacon Journal.
“That’s the most important thing to me — what do we look like, not what we line up in. We may be a 3-4 on one snap. We may be a 4-3 on another snap. I guarantee you we’ll be a 5-2 sometimes, and we’ll be a 4-4 sometimes. We are a multi-front, attacking defense, and that’s the most important thing, not what player lines up where, how he stands, what stance he’s in.”
A lot of coaches are from the school of thought that you create an identity and focus on doing a few things great, rather than a lot of things average. So it will be interesting to see how this strategy of taking the term "multi-dimensional" to the next level will work out for the Browns next season.
If they are able to be as multiple as Horton wants them to be, and more importantly, be successful doing it, they'll be a fun team to watch.