|Panthers hope to evolve into 3-4 defense|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Tuesday, 18 October 2011 07:58|
CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers showed a new wrinkle on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, lining up in a 3-4 defense for the first time under coach Ron Rivera.
“Ron and I have gotten together on it over the summer and it’s something we wanted to evolve to, so we’re going to have that in the game plan whether we use it or not,” McDermott said. “It’s going to be in every game plan.”
“You’re seeing more hybrid type guys with the tight ends, which are more wideouts now,” McDermott said. “You’re seeing the same thing on the defensive side with 3-4 type defenses. You take a defensive end that isn’t a true defensive end in terms of 285 or 275 pounds and they’re going to let him come off the edge once in awhile.”
Changing to a 3-4 base defense would likely require a change in personnel at some positions.
On Sunday, the Panthers used Ron Fields at nose tackle and Terrell McClain and Greg Hardy at ends. Dan Connor and James Anderson were the middle linebackers, allowing Charles Johnson and Antwan Applewhite to stand up at outside linebacker.
Applewhite has played that position before in San Diego but most of Carolina’s front seven guys haven’t played in a 3-4 scheme.
“It’s a new concept here, so it’s something you have to rep to make sure everybody is on the same page,” Applewhite said. “The couple of plays were ran it, it did all right. One play they got a big run off of it when a guy wasn’t in the right gap. That’s something where you look at the film and then fix it in practice.”
Applewhite, who was part of the Chargers league’s top-ranked defense last year, believes the Panthers have what it takes to run the 3-4 scheme.
“I feel like we have the personnel here to do it,” Applewhite said. “You just need outside linebackers that can set the edge and disrupt. Charles Johnson is a multi-talented player. It’s something he should be able to do quite well.”
Added McDermott: We have some players to work with there and that is a good sign for us.”
Johnson, the team’s highest-paid player and leader in sacks, said he thought it was “cool” to get a chance to stand up and rush from the outside linebacker spot.
“You get to see things just by standing up,” he said. “It was all right. We only ran it a couple of times, but you can rush the passer a little bit better just by standing up because you can see it better.”