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Dolphins making change to 4-3 defense

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Getty Images

The Dolphins are changing the most successful part of their team.

The organization has decided to transition from the old Parcells/Sparano/Nolan 3-4 defense to a 4-3 attack for 2012, according to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. This is an odd decision for a few reasons.

First, the Dolphins defense has been rather successful the last two years. Miami finished sixth in points allowed in 2011, and sixth in yards allowed in 2010. ¬†It wasn’t a perfect group, but their talent seemed well suited to a 3-4 defense.

The other odd part: The team doesn’t have a defensive coordinator yet. Mike Nolan has left for Atlanta and Todd Bowles is not expected to return. G.M. Jeff Ireland reportedly told his scouts to start looking for 4-3 players back in December.

At this point, Bengals secondary coach Kevin Coyle sounds like a strong candidate for the defensive coordinator post. The change in defense will make Cameron Wake a defensive end again.

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40 Responses to “Dolphins making change to 4-3 defense”
  1. stevemo says: Jan 26, 2012 8:43 AM

    You’re implying that this team used the 3-4 exclusively before this.

  2. TheDPR says: Jan 26, 2012 8:44 AM

    The problem in Miami wasn’t Sparano. It was – and is – Ross and Ireland.

  3. cowhawkfan says: Jan 26, 2012 8:57 AM

    Is something works, why change? Seems like they should wait until they have a DC, but what do I know. Fins were actually playing pretty well last year and lost some close games. Seems like with a little more offense they were about to turn the corner.

  4. dcfan4life says: Jan 26, 2012 8:58 AM

    Last time i checked these type of decisions were done by either the head coach or defensive coordinator. Without either this makes no sense. Your suppose to hire a head coach and let him pick his own staff and then decided the schemes. Miamis got it backwards. Especially since there defense is actually pretty good.

  5. FinFan68 says: Jan 26, 2012 9:03 AM

    Aaaannnddd the stupidity continues. The hybrid was working just fine (except the dumb sets in the 4th qtr)

  6. basexc9 says: Jan 26, 2012 9:04 AM

    Can you imagine as your front 4:

    Mario Williams
    Jared Odrick
    Randy Starks
    Cam Wake

    That would be a top 3 line

  7. jgo304 says: Jan 26, 2012 9:05 AM

    Sounds to me like Philbin saw enough of a bad Dom Capers coached 3-4 in GB this year. As a packer fan I don’t blame him…….a off year from Dom is enough to destroy anyones faith in a 3-4.

  8. benh999 says: Jan 26, 2012 9:05 AM

    Smart move. It worked out well for Shanahan and the Redskins too. If they really want to succeed they will need to dump off their better 34 players before a preseason game shows them how their new four-man front plays in a game.

  9. cuda1234 says: Jan 26, 2012 9:07 AM

    Just goes to show how far this franchise has fallen since the Don Shula days.

  10. jimmysee says: Jan 26, 2012 9:15 AM

    What does the new head coach have to say about that?

    He comes from a 3-4.

  11. porkcrisp says: Jan 26, 2012 9:15 AM

    They played there pass defense out of the 4-3 last year. Not a big deal. It mostly means that they are not going to keep Soliai.

  12. fin1fan says: Jan 26, 2012 9:24 AM

    The 4-3 will be more stout against the run and will get more QB pressures which will help the weak secondary play….

  13. nflgreedleague says: Jan 26, 2012 9:24 AM

    It makes perfect sense! Have they drafted anyone yet? NO. Do they know what defense they will be running yet? NO. So they are evaluating talent for both scemes and when they land the defense type they will have evaluated talent for that type. Have you got it figured out yet. Dense!

  14. pftcensorssuck says: Jan 26, 2012 9:30 AM

    Yeah, that ought to fix their quarterback problem, huh?

  15. tcclark says: Jan 26, 2012 9:38 AM

    I actually love this move. All we will need is a middle linebacker and a defensive end and this defense will be really good. If we can sign a guy like Mario Williams and draft Luke Kuechly out of BC this defense will be very good.

    Wake-Starks-Odrick-Williams
    Burnett-Kuechly-Dansby

    That’s one hell of a front seven

  16. tcclark says: Jan 26, 2012 9:39 AM

    I actually love this move. All we will need is a middle linebacker and a defensive end and this defense will be really good. If we can sign a guy like Mario Williams and draft Luke Kuechly out of BC this defense will be even better than it was under Nolan.

    Wake-Starks-Odrick-Williams
    Burnett-Kuechly-Dansby

    That’s one hell of a front seven

  17. stergersburgernips says: Jan 26, 2012 9:41 AM

    Everyone says it is a copycat league but some franchises don’t seem to get it:

    Moulding your defensive scheme around the personnel that you have is generally more successful that the other way round.

  18. 69finfan says: Jan 26, 2012 9:42 AM

    Guys! The ink isn’t even dry and many of you have already doomed the Fins this year. Let this “Transition” to a 4-3 play out. It might be a complete bust but it might work. We don’t know yet and won’t for a while. I know most of you won’t admit it or can’t admit it but people with way more football smarts than any of you have made this decision because it is felt it will make them a better football team. If this were not true then you would be making the decision and the people actually making the decision would be posting comments and bashing you. You same people that are bashing them now will be telling all the world how great a decision it was when and if it pans out. Just like the coach in “One on One”. Go Fins “Unconditionaly”.

  19. piratefreedom says: Jan 26, 2012 9:46 AM

    The best way to improve the Dolphin offensive numbers is to gut the defense.

    With all the soft prevent defenses in the 2nd half when games are far out of reach the ‘fins will be able to put up better numbers on offense.

  20. lionsfanatic84 says: Jan 26, 2012 9:49 AM

    I’m sorry dolphins fans, I really am. If you don’t get a solid qb this year, you are screwed

  21. emoney826 says: Jan 26, 2012 9:55 AM

    Trade your good 3-4 players to green bay. Hook us up, Joe!

  22. tatum064 says: Jan 26, 2012 10:11 AM

    Ireland’s an idiot as usual. Only upside is they wont have to pony up another 12.5 ml for Paul Soliai, and he’ll be sought after as a key NT at a position where a run stuffer is a premium.

    good luck with that, Philbin. Send an S.O.S. for Matt Flynn like, yesterday…

  23. dutchmaster91 says: Jan 26, 2012 10:14 AM

    Soliai becomes expendable in the switch which frees up money to sign a big FA and extend Cameron Wake. I like it. Also, if the Dolphins can get pressure with the front four and allow seven to drop back into coverage, that would be huge against teams like the Patriots.

  24. mwcarolina says: Jan 26, 2012 10:45 AM

    Can you imagine as your front 4:

    Mario Williams
    Jared Odrick
    Randy Starks
    Cam Wake
    —————————————————–
    Imagine it, but i dont see it unless you offer up a good deal for Mario Williams. this isnt the NBA, Williams isnt going to be let go for free, he will either be re-signed of franchised, i doubt the Texans want a great pass rusher to go free.

  25. silverhornet says: Jan 26, 2012 10:52 AM

    Soliai is expendable because he’s a two down football player and wants top 5 DT money. The switch to a 43 is rather overblown. Dolphins played roughly 45% of their D snaps in a four man front last year. This switch is not as big of a deal as it used to be. Most defenses play multiple fronts these days.

    Can we go back to speculating about Peyton Manning?

  26. canucktr says: Jan 26, 2012 10:56 AM

    I see we’re devoid of Fin Fans here (for the most part) so allow me to educate you beyond what tcclark and dutchmaster valiantly have.

    - Odrick played 3 technique (think Warren Sapp) at Penn State and was a beast.
    - Starks played DT at Tenn before coming over as a FA.
    - Soliai is not worth what someone is going to pay him as a NG. Sorry, he’s not. And he’s got zip as a pass rusher.
    - Misi played MLB early in his Utah days and has shown precious little as an edge rusher from the OLB spot. He’ll be no worse than a back up MLB.
    - We played a TON of 4-3 in pass rush situations last year.
    - Our personel is flush on DL and thin at LB right now. And that includes UFA’s Langford and Soliai.

    It’s no big whoop. Calm down haters.

  27. freedomispopular says: Jan 26, 2012 11:17 AM

    As if the Texans are just gonna let their best defensive player just leave…

  28. dolphincritic says: Jan 26, 2012 11:29 AM

    I think that you are wrong, Gregg. The Dolphins have a surplus at DE & very good DT’S. Wake is a versatile OLB. The weakness is at left OLB. Burnett shifts over and the front is fine.

    The other weakness is secondary. Draft DB’s and cut deadwood. Let’s wait and see who falls to the 9th pick in the draft.

  29. dolphincritic says: Jan 26, 2012 11:35 AM

    I forgot to mention, expect to see a multiple formation defense. 3-4 on first down with a 4-3 base defense. Special defenses for short yardage and long yardage situations. There is no pure defensive sets anymore!

  30. FinFan68 says: Jan 26, 2012 11:39 AM

    It’s not the switch that has some fans upset because a situational hybrid was being used anyway. It is the apparent decision from Ireland back before the season was over, without a new HC (who would want to hire a new staff), etc. It just seems a little shady coming from a guy with a history of being disingenuous with his players/coaches. If true maybe that is why Nolan decided to bail. Say what you want but his defense was top 10 for two years, had a up/down 1st half of the season (as did the rest of the team) and then came on strong at the end of the season.

    I think it would have been smarter to discuss the team’s philosophy/vision, hire the new coach, let him organize a cohesive staff, evaluate the players they have and then make necessary adjustments via draft/free agency. I realize that this site is trying to further the impression of the Dolphins management being inept, but in this case, they may have a point. There are issues with this team that needed to be addressed and messing with the most stable element on the team is bound to cause some concern.

  31. cornersss says: Jan 26, 2012 11:42 AM

    “Can you imagine as your front 4:

    Mario Williams
    Jared Odrick
    Randy Starks
    Cam Wake

    That would be a top 3 line”

    Dont need to change anything and we still had a top line. Most of our front 7 could start on any team in the nfl

  32. cornersss says: Jan 26, 2012 12:30 PM

    i dont get why people want to let solia walk as if he wasn’t worth anything just because were changing.

    Franchise and trade the guy.He wouldn’t have much of a choice and we could have more ammo

  33. cornersss says: Jan 26, 2012 12:33 PM

    “It is the apparent decision from Ireland back before the season was over, without a new HC”

    I guess, sort of. But had he not been prepared by scoting 4-3 players if we switched, and drafted bad whos to blame then?

  34. beeronthefridge says: Jan 26, 2012 1:02 PM

    You only play a 3-4 when you lack talent in the defensive line to play a 4-3.

  35. dolphins1121 says: Jan 26, 2012 2:47 PM

    A: “dcfan4life”, you are a moron. Joe Philbin is our head coach. Some “fan” you are.

    B: This team has traditionally had a 4-3 defense. Remember those dominating years with Thomas and Taylor? Everybody is so quick to drink the hatorade with this team. I get so tired of the negative articles on this site, followed by the ignorant, negative articles posted by supposed fans. Have some faith people. This team will be very good this year. I have no doubt we will get to watch at least one playoff game this year.

  36. ruggerlad says: Jan 26, 2012 2:51 PM

    The 3-4 is better vs the run and the 4-3 is better vs the pass. With recent rule changes trying to boost the passing game and the score the 4-3 will once again be the much more common D-front.
    Miami can make this transition without drafting early or adding a starter if they resign Kendall Langford.
    LDE Jared Odrick – big athletic pass rusher in the mold of a Reggie White.
    DT Kendall Langford – a great combo of size strength and athleticism; he is stout vs the run and will be quicker than most Guards out of their stance
    DT Randy Starks has played DT before is not as good as Kendall vs the run but offers a bit more of a pass rush.
    RDE Cameron Wake – need I say anything
    SamLB Karlos Dansby – can do everything asked in coverage run support or as a pass rusher MikeLB Koa Misi – think Jeramiah Trotter a one dimensional run stopper
    WillLB Kevin Burnett – athletic LB who is better in coverage
    Langford can be resigned now as a DT who cost less than DE’s. Solai can go get overpaid esewhere.

  37. ruggerlad says: Jan 26, 2012 2:55 PM

    With Langford and Odrick on the left side at 6-6 and 6-5 they are both tall, powerful and athletic. They will crush the pocket and take up passing lanes with Starks and Wake applying pressure from the blindside. I would like to see a CB drafted early and Sean Smith moved to safety. This would upgrade 2 positions in the secondary. Smith would be better with everything in front of him and would be better in man coverage vs a TE than a small WR.
    Reshad Jones is more of a SS imo.

  38. ruggerlad says: Jan 26, 2012 3:12 PM

    beeronthefridge says:
    Jan 26, 2012 1:02 PM
    You only play a 3-4 when you lack talent in the defensive line to play a 4-3.

    ————————————————-

    You have no idea what you are talking about.

  39. mackie66 says: Jan 26, 2012 6:42 PM

    Ink drying is not the problem, its breaking up something that works. If it aint broke dont fix it. But Ireland has to act like a GM, and why is changing the defense in Irelands privy. Thought the head coach had something to do with,,,oh never mind its the Dolphins why say more.

  40. fordraptorforum says: Jan 26, 2012 10:06 PM

    Cam Wake with his hand in the dirt on every play is gonna be awesome. His ability to get low and the angles he takes when he’s low and closing on a QB are his best asset.

    As a Phins fan -who fully expects our D to run multiple fronts despite this news, it’s the modern defensive way- I really look forward to seeing the best player on our defense utilized more often in the front that maximizes his potential.

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