Dec 30, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (54) in the rain during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Current Chargers Roster looks like a 4-3 Defense

By James Fedewa

The San Diego Chargers will consider changing to the 4-3 defense 2013 (from defensive coordinator John Pagano’s 3-4 base defense). Pagano does specialize in the 3-4 Defense, but is not limited to one base defense. Any base defensive front is 100% based on the player personnel and will be run more than 50% of the time. If you have a lot of linebackers and want your best players of the field, play 3-4. If you have more D-Linemen that are pass rushers, play the 4-3.

Labeling and ranking San Diego personnel is very subjective, but the best players, most productive (and most experience) should be playing the majority of defensive snaps. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but simple mathematics and experience (within current players) alter defensive formations once the regular season starts. Here’s a ranking of current Chargers Defensive Starters, in order of best player (considering nickel-back is a starting position):

1.) Eric Weddle – FS*

2.) Corey Liuget – DE*

3.) Donald Butler- ILB*

4.) Derrick Cox – CB*

5.) Kendall Reyes – DE*

6.) Melvin Ingram – ROLB/RDE*

7.) Jarret Johnson – LOLB

8.) Shareece Wright – CB

9.) Cam Thomas – NT

10.) Marcus Gilchrist – NB

11.) Brandon Taylor – SS

12.) Jonas Mouton – ILB

Top Backup Players:

1.) Darrell Stuckey – S

2.) Larry English – ROLB/RDE

3.) Johnny Patrick – CB

4.) Andrew Gachkar – ILB

5.) Bront Bird – ILB

6.) Jarius Wynn, DE

18 notable defensive players…

Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes are probably the best 1-2 punch and strength of the Chargers defense. Both are capable of rushing the passer in dime and nickel formations, but in the Chargers base 3-4D, they focus on gap control, neutralizing blockers with limited pass rushing assignments. Both Luiget and Reyes can be better utilized rushing the passer vs. holding up offensive linemen enabling San Diego’s linebackers. Both could benefit in a sturdy rotation with NT Cam Thomas, who is a pretty good middle pass rusher too. Liuget and Reyes are the strengths of the Chargers defense, yet are more reactive (in plugging holes), than proactive (in getting the quarterback). They are both better suited as 4-3 defensive tackles.

Melvin Ingram is a 270 lbs. linebacker, capable of playing multiple positions in the Chargers front seven. His strengths are rushing the passer mixed with his size and quickness. He might be a good OLB, but he might be better at just focusing on pressuring the quarterback and being a 4-3 defensive end. Jarret Johnson has experience playing a hybrid DE in Baltimore and starts, only on 1st and 2nd Downs. Johnson is not a superstar, but a very good player and team leader.

Larry English was a DE in college and at 255 lbs. can lineup in multiple outside positions on the D-line (including wide-9 right DE). If English earns playing time and can stay healthy, this is his year. English was drafted based on his smarts and high speed pass-rush while in a hunched over “crouch”. English can run a 4.8 40 yard dash, without standing straight up. He has all the talent in the world, is very savvy (scored a 37 on the wonderlic`) and should have a break out year with S.Phillips and A.Barnes gone (which means more playing time)…

4-3 inside linebackers are the only question marks (if San Diego does change to the 4-3). Butler, Mouton and Gachkar all have a lot of speed but 2 of the 3 lack NFL experience. Butler is a quality linebacker and expected to become a pro-bowler. He could probably become the Chargers best defensive player this season and is already a team leader…

Rating the Chargers defensive players: *6 (of 12) starters are better suited playing in the 4-3 defense (based on skill set, experience, height, weight and speed). San Diego will draft an inside linebacker this week in the draft, but will he be a 43OLB or a 34ILB?

Say what you will, but SD looks 4-3…

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  • FitzWilly

    4 days left Ladies and Germs :)

    I can almost taste it

    and I bet it’s gonna taste like a Deep-Fried Triple Bacon Cheese Burger


    We can call it the Har-Burger :)

    Am I right Ladies :)

  • David Villarreal

    Any link to anyone within the Chargers organization saying they are even considering switching to a 4-3?

    • JoseSD

      I haven’t seen or heard any, there’s been two articles on,this site talking about it but I think it’s just cause of the lack of depth. They only have Liuget, Reyes, Thomas to play D line so they think playing those three inside in a rotation while putting Ingram and JJ at DE would be better. But I think that’s worse simply because that means having Mouton at weak side LB and Bird/Gachkar at strong side with the current personnel. Id rather go with the current d line and Jj,, Butler, Mouton, Ingram at LB. there will be depth added at d line by the draft. And there’s still lots of free agents waiting to sign, I think they should sign Karlos Dansby to play next to butler. If they could get a LT in round 1 then they could draft a guy like Jessie Williams of Alabama in round 2 to rotate at NT with Thomas

    • Ernie Padaon

      Just rue speculation on James’ part

    • jamfed

      With DC John Pagano, I doubt it… But good coaches to play to their teams strengths. On paper, this team looks 4-3 and with the 2nd through 7th round draft picks, college talent is usually comes from 4-3 D.

      • davacho

        our roster is not yet complete- we’ll have accurate paper in a few months. i do appreciate the thought you put in though. : )

        • jamfed

          you’re 100% right! And thanks!

  • FitzWilly

    I would only entertain such an idea if, and only IF
    you can talk this guy into coming back :)

    • JoseSD

      Man I miss that linebacker corps, but if Steve Foley wasn’t shot in the offseason Shaun Philips would have stayed on the bench in 06. I think that was the best LB lineup in the last ten years Merriman, Godfrey, Edwards, Philips

      • FitzWilly

        I concur
        We kicked some @ss

      • jamfed

        I loved Foley! He came outta nowhere too…
        And considering what happened to him make me ill.

  • DonP

    According to wikipedia, Larry English scored 34 on the wonderlic.

    • jamfed

      YES YOU ARE RIGHT! Larry English scored a 34 on the wonderlic test at his combine. I must of have a type error (or that I was also reading that Tevon Austin scored a 7, and got the two number mixed together!)… TEVON AUSTIN: 7 (seven)

  • shane

    dude give it a rest already

    • JoseSD

      Completely agree, this makes no sense to me

    • jamfed

      Funny… when SD officially changed to a 3-4 Defense in 2004, Chargers fans were excited. But changing back to a 4-3 doesn’t really settle well…
      With the lack of D-line depth SD currently has on the roster, and with Garay, Franklin, Barns, Phillips and Martin GONE, there is no personnel to justify keeping the 3-4. Changing to the 4-3 would help DT rotations & freshness for Liuget, Reyes & Thomas. Currently in a 3-4, those three lack seasoned depth.

      • davacho

        let us have a draft and a full offseason before we decide what kind of base d we are running… otherwise it’s all just speculation.

        • jamfed

          Does the title of this article suggest anything else?
          Current Chargers Roster Looks Like A 4-3 Defense

          • davacho

            i’m not responsible for your headlines and content matching up. : ) you’re a bit aggro for my taste, but i dig the enthusiasm. : )

  • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

    Hey what happened to all the rowdy comments and the post is different? Did James get a do over? Maybe his writing style is just always going to rub people the wrong way.

    • Shane

      No it’s the topic. It’s basically a repeat of yesterday’s article. Same article on back to back days. No bueno

      • jamfed

        article one was about the draft, article two is about San Diego’s top 6 defensive players.

    • jamfed

      I was writing a reply to the last article and it was a little lengthy, and grew into this article… The last article was about the draft filling roster spots & could dictate the Chargers changing to the 4-3. Someone commented that the Chargers current defensive roster and best defensive players are better suited for the 3-4. So I looked at SD’s top 6 D-players and it really looks like a 4-3.

  • Cgoodness13

    In that case, we have to move liuget to DT, Ingram to DE, and mouton to OLB, mouton was in a 4-2-5 in college, I believe he might thrive in this system, he will certainly be better off than in the 3-4

  • Cgoodness13

    Don’t know why people act like its impossible to switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3, teams do it all the time mid season. And do you really think pagano knows nothing about it? If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be a coach. We are a defensive team now, defensive teams usually run a 4-3. I think people just like the 3-4 because of how fancy you can call plays.

    • FitzWilly

      Here’s some Yoda shite for Ya All
      why can’t we do both, depending on the team we’re playing
      as long as you have the personnel
      it ain’t rocket surgery

  • joerockt

    I like the 4-3 better anyway. With 4 up front, they get to focus more on going after the ball/qb. With the 2 OLB’s, they have to drop back in coverage too often at times. 3 LB’s covers those short routes better, covers TE’s better, has the LOS in front of them, rather than a back pedaling OLB. I like the idea of having Butler, Moulton and Williams (still with the team, right? Dude was a ball hawk last year) back there. I just wish we had a “standard” DE like JPP or Julius Peppers.