Could a temporary switch to the 3-4 be the answer to Carolina's defensive woes?

Ron Rivera ran a 3-4 in San Diego and had several undersized players on defense. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

As it stands we know the glaring weakness on defense for the Carolina Panthers is at defensive tackle. As it stands Carolina are relegated to waiting on cuts and/or hoping Kentwan Balmer who the team signed off waivers pans out in terms of filling the gaps needed at the position. Conversely, the Panthers have more talent than they know what to do with at the LB spot. 

Clearly the long term goal of the organization will be to run a four man front, but that doesn't mean being intractable while waiting for the personnel to be put in place. Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott both have experience in the 3-4, so why not lean on it temporarily? 

More after the jump

The quest for a true nose tackle

While Sione Fua may have played 3-4 NT at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh it's undeniable he's too small to play the same position in the NFL. As I posited yesterday the signing of Jamal Williams would make immense sense in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme.

 

What about Charles Johnson?

Out of the gate it's a hard pill to swallow to have someone of his stature play 3-4 DE, but we really are only looking at a temporary fix here. As a band-aid CJ would do fine dealing with double teams and holding his men up at the LoS. He was doubled almost the entire night against Cincinnati anyway, sometimes even tripled. Furthermore, keep in mind that on numerous occasions in 2010 Johnson played DT on third down anyway, so the leap here isn't as great as it may appear.

 

What happens at OLB?

As it stands we really have two sets of OLBs for a  3-4, they have run stoppers and pass rushers. The former group contains Thomas Davis and James Anderson, while the latter is Greg Hardy, Everette Brown and Eric Norwood. I would suggest playing one unit on 1st and 2nd down, then changing the group for 3rd down to add more pass rushers.

 

What would a depth chart like this look like? 

 

Base defense

NT: Williams/ Irvin

RDE: Fua/ McClain/ Neblett

LDE: Johnson/ Balmer

ROLB: Anderson/ Gaither/ Norwood

ILB: Beason/ Senn

ILB: Connor/ Thomas Williams

LOLB: Davis/ Hardy/ Brown

 

Third Down

NT: Williams/ Irvin

RDE: Fua/ McClain/ Neblett

LDE: Johnson/ Balmer

ROLB: Norwood/ Anderson/ Gaither

ILB: Beason/ Senn

ILB: Connor/ Thomas Williams 

LOLB: Hardy/ Brown/ Davis

 

While I'm definitely not advocating this as a long term answer it is definitely a viable solution to help us in the immediate future.

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