Dwight Freeney sees move to linebacker as big adjustment


After a decade and more than 100 sacks as a 4-3 defensive end, Dwight Freeney is moving to outside linebacker in new coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 defense. And he says that’s a bigger adjustment than some people might realize.

Freeney said on NFL Total Access that he has become so accustomed to lining up like a sprinter and going straight to the quarterback that he has a lot to learn now that he has more responsibilities at a different position.

It’s going to be an adjustment for me,” Freeney said. “I’m a guy who is used to, as you know, hand down going one direction – that’s towards the quarterback, towards the running back and whoever is in the backfield. That line of sight is a comfort level for me when I have my hand down. Now I’m playing linebacker, they have some similarities but I’m also going to be dropping in space, running in the opposite direction from the quarterback. I know the coach is going to be yelling at me the first few weeks. Sometimes I’m probably going to fake dropping back and go in for the blitz. It’s going to be an adjustment. I’m excited for the challenge. It’s something new. People won’t be able to just blackboard me saying ‘This is where Dwight is going to line up and this is how we’re going to turn the protection.’ Now I get to move around a little bit so hopefully things work out.”

The Colts are a rebuilding team, and it would have been understandable if they had decided that it wasn’t worth asking a 32-year-old with a base salary of more than $14 million to learn a new position and had either traded or released Freeney. But Freeney said he always expected to remain in Indianapolis and that he’s excited to be contributing to the new-look Colts. This is a big adjustment that Freeney is glad to make.

10 responses to “Dwight Freeney sees move to linebacker as big adjustment

  1. I hate that many teams are switching to the new fad 3-4, especially when they have a legitimate 4-3 pressure end (Mario Williams & Freeney). Outside of the Steelers, Ravens and the Patriots, I haven’t seen it really work for anybody…okay, it worked for the Texans last year. But no one else.

    When my Browns switched to it I was happy because I thought they would be like Blitz-Burg II. I hate the Steelers, but respect them and their D, but when the Browns ran it it was read/react, bend don’t break aka give up a bunch of yards and send predictable blitzes and it just didn’t work.

    I hate when teams throw out their entire plan to switch to a fad when the fad is just a fad and only works for a few teams. And the few teams it works for have great Ds and good-great D-Coordinators to make it work.

  2. “This is a big adjustment that Freeney is glad to make.”

    TRY…. It’s a big adjustment he is glad to TRY to make. I think it needs to be understood here that Freeney has been a One Trick Pony his entire career. Now he’s 32 and being asked all of the sudden to learn a position that requires way way way more mental capacity, reading of defenses and ability to react to different reads in different ways. On top of that, he’s now going to have to DO different physical things such as cover receivers/T-ends. He’s a One Trick Pony that is now all of the sudden being asked to become…. highly versatile. This is a huge change for him now. Pass rushing is all his muscles and brain know. Dwight will TRY to make this adjustment. I certainly hope he’s able to do it. But it needs to be understood that a successful transition is by no means a given. Do not be surprised if he is unable to do it.

  3. godofwine330 says:
    May 24, 2012 6:19 PM
    I hate that many teams are switching to the new fad 3-4…..

    The 3-4 is hardly a “fad”. The 3-4 has been around for decades.

    It seems the trend, however, recently is that more and more defenses are becoming “multiple”. In other words… they can transition seamlessly into the defensive structure appropriate for the opponent/situation be it 3-4, 4-3, cover 2, man on man, zone, dime, nickle etc…. Most teams still have a “base defense” be it 3-4 or 4-3. What’s now happening is that more and more teams are realizing that they need to be able to be “multiple” and instantly able to morph into something else that will be more effective again a given offensive set.

  4. The real point here is, Freeney makes $19 million this year. Yes, he has been pretty one-dimensional in his career, as stated above. But this guy is clearly a team player. He isn’t sitting down and whining about a position change or not trying (a la Albert Haynesworth).

    I certainly hope it works out for you, Dwight, and not just because I am a Colts fan, but also because as a person, you are what the overpaid, overhyped, crybaby, prima donnas in sports should strive to be.

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