Panthers Switching to 3-4 Defense?
The Carolina Panthers got an offensive face-lift in 2011 by adding rookie quarterback Cam Newton, and now it seems they’ll get a defensive schematic change with rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly.
According to Michael Lombardi of NFL.com, the Panthers will at a minimum be “mixing in” elements of a 3-4 defensive scheme into their base 4-3 system.
The new 3-4 scheme would allow the team to deploy rookie linebacker in his more natural role of outside linebacker, but could cause complications with other linebackers on the team that are arguably better suited for a 4-3 system. The switch could also cause problems with the team’s top pass rushers, who also may not be best suited to be stand-up linebackers in a 3-4 defensive scheme.
The first thing that comes to mind is what will happen with Charles Johnson? Ideally, if the team is in fact switching from a 4-3 to a 4-3, he’d be an outside linebacker. The same question stands tall for Carolina’s other defensive linemen, as it will be extremely interesting to see how each player fits in with the new system.
If the switch happens like Lombardi is alluding to, then it could be the perfect base for rookie Luke Kuechly, as well as Jon Beason, who is returning from an injury. However, outside of Kuechly and Beason, Thomas Davis and James Anderson would be left in the dark, and would only be useful (at their best) when the Panthers rolled with a 4-3 scheme.
Nothing appears to be official yet and we’ll find out more in the coming days as Carolina’s training camp gets closer, but this is news worth noting considering a respected source like Lombardi has been vocal about it. Stay tuned.