NEPD Contributor: Wayne B. Jones
Multiple front defenses have become popular in the NFL today. New Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis is implementing a “multiple” unit defense for the upcoming 2013 season. But in New England Bill Belichick has been using a multiple front defense (scheme) for many years.
The New England Patriots scheme flexible defense is a hybrid 3-4, 4-3 alignment. The key to the success of this system is flexibility of personnel. To be able to effectively switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 to a dime defense and other multiple sets requires versatility at nearly every position. Players have to be able to run, cover and hit. Linemen have to be strong enough to hold the point in the 3-4, but get up field in a 4-3. Defensive backs have to be very good in zone coverage but efficient in man coverage when needed. This system requires a special skill set and an above average football IQ.
A 2014 NFL draft prospect that best fits New England’s scheme is Notre Dames Louis Nix III (6’3”, 326).
Plays with a low base, anchors well. Big and thick with quick nimble feet. Has a good feel for the game with the ability to redirect well. A competitive player who can run in pursuit or slide down the line and stuff the run. Can play inside or outside in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Clogs up the inside running lanes or squeezes and collapses the pocket in the pass game. Has the ability to control a blocker or flashes quickness to burst through a gap. Gets his hands up as a pass rusher.
Strength and endurance must improve for competition on the next level. He needs to build more upper body strength to shed quickly from blockers. Nix is a good bull rusher but he needs to develop more and varied pass rushing moves.
Nix is a good, solid prospect that would fit nicely into New England’s hybrid defense. His quick, nimble feet will allow him to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. That said, he is best suited to play inside, where his lower body strength will allow him to handle multiple blockers to free up his edge rushers and blitzers. He would be an excellent replacement for either Vince Wilfork or Tommy Kelly (10 year vets).