Sunday, January 8, 2017

How Do the Browns Stack Up in a 4-3 versus 3-4

Jamie Meder and Danny Shelton assess the potential of a 4-3 defense for the Browns.

Size isn't everything, and numbers don't always tell the whole story, but the numbers say that the Browns were underweight in their front seven, and actually match up better as a 4-3 defense.  

I took the trouble to obtain NFL average weights for 3-4 defenses from, and the  4-3 from and some additional information from David Sheldon of   The 4-3 linebacker weights were not broken down in sufficient detail, so I used my own estimates of 235 pounds for a outside linebackers and 250 lb for middle linebackers.   

I can't 

4-3 defensive lines weight

3-4 avg NFL weight

 NFL avg weights by position group

Comparing this the the 2016 Cleveland Browns, it is obvious that there is a major misfit on the outside.  Our defensive ends are giving away 31 pounds each.  That's like sending a middleweight to fight a heavyweight.  The outside linebackers are a little better, but still undersized by an average of 15 pounds.   Maybe that has something to do with our poor performance against the run last year.  I believe bad teams, and especially our dear Cleveland Browns, are always looking for sacks, and neglect other functions on defense. Hence we wind up with lighter players who are best at rushing the passer, but perhaps can't play the run or defend against passes. Ogbah and Nassib are too light to play DE in the 3-4, but you are not going to move them to right outside linebacker with All Pro Jamie Collins in that spot. 

3-4 Defense
Position Avg wt Player wt Difference
DE 306 Ogbah 275 -31
NT 323 Shelton 335 12
DE 306 Nassib 275 -31
OLB 263 Collins 250 -13
ILB 241 Kirksey 235 -6
ILB 241 Davis 248 7
OLB 263 Schobert 245 -18

The 4-3 defense removes a linebacker and adds a defensive tackle, so overall there is less of a requirement for big guys at each of the front seven position.  In the case of teh Browns, I decide to send Meder in for Schobert, which adds 63 pounds to the front seven.  But some of the guys who were on the small side in the 3-4 match up much better in the 4-3.   

4-3 Defense
PositionAvg wtPlayerwtDifference

What's not shown here is speed.  We can be sure that former All-Pro Jamie Collins has sufficient speed for the position, and I feel positively about Christian Kirksey as well.   Maybe the biggest question is whether Danny Shelton fits the 4-3. He was the perfect nose tackle in a 3-4.  Here again, though, it doesn't bother me one bit to play a guy who is a run stopper at his position.  

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