Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has indicated that he might transition into a 3-4 defensive alignment instead of the 4-3 favored by his predecessor Greg Blache. During a conference call Monday to discuss his first Pro Bowl appearance, Skins linebacker London Fletcher said he didn't think the transition would be a problem.
"Our main defense was basically an under front that was similar, really, to what Dallas did ... the way we aligned our front," said Fletcher. "The only difference was instead having a stand-up outside linebacker, Andre Carter just had his hand on the ground. You can imagine him standing up, we're pretty much Dallas."
But I don't think it will be quite that simple for Fletcher and the Redskins. Brian Orakpo should be an excellent outside linebacker in a 3-4 but there's no guarantee that Carter makes an easy transition. And I think Fletcher may have the most difficult transition of any player for the Skins. In a 4-3, he could simply race to the football and make a ton of tackles. In a 3-4 scheme, he'll have to take on centers and guards that outweigh him by nearly 100 pounds on a regular basis.
Former Cowboys linebackers Dat Nguyen and Dexter Coakley were both smallish linebackers who tried to make the transition to Bill Parcells' favored 3-4. Coakley was soon playing for another team and Nguyen's career ended because of a neck injury. They had been highly effective players in Mike Zimmer's 4-3, but they were too small to excel in a 3-4 scheme.
Fletcher's an excellent linebacker, but I don't think he'll be as productive in a 3-4 scheme. The Redskins will start to look for larger inside linebackers in free agency and the draft.