Dec 1, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Manti Te

Chargers and that 4-3 Defense Everyone Wants


Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Donald Butler (56) celebrates after a sack during fourth quarter of the AFC wild card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Talking about our need for a nose tackle, brought up the topic of running a 4-3 defense again. Of course it did. It always does. We have not had a quality nose tackle since Jamal Williams and we keep plugging in random players to take on that load. It has not been working and the team cannot generate a pass rush with the 3-4 defense since Shawne Merriman was cut loose. We have struggled on the defensive side of the ball for the last couple of seasons. Time to change things up.

The Chargers roster already has good pieces that they can use in a 4-3 system. They don’t have a huge nose tackle to take on the middle, but they have players like Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes that can attack their gaps from a defensive tackle position. They have a right defensive end that can get to the quarterback in Dwight Freeney. Melvin Ingram can move all around the defenseve line and can play linebacker if he has to. He moved all along the line in South Carolina. Jarret Johnson also could play defensive end for the team.

Donald Butler could play the middle linebacker and chase everyone down on defense. Manti Te’o could move to the weak side linebacker spot and flow to the football and would have to worry less about taking on blockers. We would just need to pick up another linebacker for the strong side in the draft to play along with them. Kyle Van Noy looks perfect for that strong side spot.

The secondary needs help. Weddle still will be over the top. Jahleel Addae will be the other safety and we find corners. We need to make some good moves in the draft to get people to play back there.

Everyone in the league is throwing the crap out of the football. Time for us to adjust and make use of our players in a better way. Let’s do this Pagano. Liuget, Reyes, Ingram and Freeney will be able to get after quarterbacks. Butler and Te’o would be able to make plays on running backs and tight ends.

Why do we continue to run a defense without the main cog? No nose tackle… no 3-4 defense. Make a switch!

Tags: San Diego Chargers

  • scott stevens

    Kinda like that idea!

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      then we wouldnt have to search for a stupid nose tackle either!

      • Julien Bélair

        And a second pass rusher ! in a 3-4 scheme we miss 2 big pieces and if we switch to a 4-3 then we only need one pieces

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          exactly!

      • Brett M

        What do you think of
        Liuget Reyes Hageman/Tuitt Freeney
        JJ/Van Noy Butler/Teo Ingram

        • Marcel West-Bailey

          We don’t have enough early draft picks to get Hageman, Tuitt and Van Noy. Well not the way it currently is. Hageman is first round for sure. Van Noy and Tuitt are both second round and I don’t expect Van Noy to be around for long after the second round starts since he played extremely well at the Senior Bowl. How he does at the Combine remains to be seen but I expect good things. So lets say you get Hageman in the first and one of the LB in the second. The issue of corner is still there and the good ones will be gone.

  • Lee

    as long as pagano is there it wont happen

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      welp… pagano is still a problem then

      • Julien Bélair

        Cut clary and cox and sign Raji with the money. problem solved

        • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

          YES!!!

        • Sergio Quintero

          A whole lot more cuts than those are needed. 4 categories:

          Have to cut: English, Mouton, McClain

          Asked to restructure, if not will be cut: Clary, Royal, Johnson, Cox, V.Brown, Freeney. Not sure if Brown or Freeney will be, but I would.

          Should take a paycut to stay after 2014: Gates

          They could ask for restructured contracts: Rivers, Weddle, Hardwick

        • Tyreece Kaete Sr.

          True

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Which pretty much says that we are stuck in the 3-4 again, or he would not have been retained. I heard Pagano say that people are mistaken if they think a 4-3 is harder, or much different to running a 3-4.. I think he is full of it. Do you think Pagano could pull off the 4-3? Just curious. Otherwise, I like Julien’s answer.

        • Julien Bélair

          I think he could pull it off but it would be a huge risk… Almost everybody on the defence would switch position… is it really easier than finding a real NT ? I don’t think so. If they wanted to do it, last year was their chance.

        • arnie

          Nope. He can barely pull off a 3-4. They are fundamentally the same, but not in execution. The main problem’s? Switching to a 4-3 means changing EVERYTHING. Those changes will set the defense back 2-3 years. Not just cutting players, but scouting as well. The Chargers are looking at players they want to add to a 3-4 system 2-3 years from now. All that get’s blown up. On top of that, Pagano has not totally convinced me it’s his schemes and abilities that don’t suck.
          We can throw the blame at Cam Thomas feet all we want. Keep in mind, when Freeney had his hand in the dirt, they “still” couldn’t generate any pressure.

    • Sergio Quintero

      I couldn’t agree more, we know what Pagano is right now, he’s more about running it his way than maximizing certain players skill set. He’s not a special D coordinator like Zimmer, Lebeau. He’s basically mediocre to slightly above coach, with good games here there to tempt you on what could be, but will never be in a sustained way.

  • Derek

    Look at the success rate of the 4-3 vs 3-4 I agree it’s been too long since we’ve had a suitable nt, but 4-3 requires everybody to be aware and great at their assignment. The only good 4-3 I know is rivieras at Carolina. So 1 you have Ron compared to pagano,2 butler is no kelechy, 3 our olb’s would be teo and unproven van noy if lucky. So long story short our best defense will be our long drives on offense. This will also lead to current players questioning team leadership. Even though it sounds good and easy in theory. This isn’t madden a 4-3 will set us back by atleast 1 season and will cost us some players we just drafted. 4-3 leaves little room for error 3-4 is more flexible and puts the qb under pressure constantly all we need is solai or hageman

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      Seattle??

      • Derek

        Seattle has players drafted for about 2 seasons for that 4-3 I’m trying to win now.

      • Derek

        After how close we got it seems crazy to blow up our 3-4 and take on all the problems that will come with making a 4-3. So your saying in the draft and free agency you can’t see 1 nt that would man the middle?

        • Julien Bélair

          Raji but he will be expensive

          • Derek

            Noooo if we put money on someone solai. Not sure if he was a casualty of capers new defense or is over the hill but last season he looked lost. We can only afford a 1 yr prove it contract along with drafting hageman. I think nix only has 3 decent yrs left due to his knee.

          • Julien Bélair

            I disagree with pretty much everything you said. Nix will not be available and if he is it is because of his knee problems so it is a dangerous pick.

            Hageman is just not the true NT we are looking for. 6’6 311 is more a 4-3 DT.

            Raji looked lost ? on that one I have nothing to say because i’m not sure why you are saying that and on what you based your opinion.

          • Derek

            Pull up his stats compared to picett, look at his snaps!!! I know hageman is a 4-3 but I figure since he’s more of a run stuffer make a mess of the middle we could convert him. Hey why try n convert a whole defense and coach when you just need to convert one player. But back to raji. What I saw of him last season is him not making plays not being a factor the offense has to cater to. I saw him getting walled off. I saw him getting tried at d end which screams you haven’t been holding down your job so we will try to move you around for mismatches still was unsucessful. I beg you to pull up his stats and compare them to his counterparts

          • Julien Bélair

            I don’t think stats is a good way to look at performance.. especially not for a NT.

          • Derek

            So how do you compare nt’s? In gb they’re tlking of dumping him due to lack of production. I look at pro football weekly

          • Julien Bélair

            PFF is a good start and watching tapes but yeah it is hard to evaluate a NT.

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          our 3-4 has not been good though. We don’t get any pressure on quarterbacks. we are 23rd on defense.

          • Mashuerta

            Franklin should never have been allowed to walk. When a one year veteran FA rental makes defensive captain: A. that’s a sorry defense & B. dude legit enough to hustle for that spot.

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      Houston. Plenty of teams

      • Derek

        Houston top of the draft

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          because of their quarterback

      • Derek

        We just went and succeeded in the playoffs. It’s gut-wrenching to lose to the raiders I can’t bare to think of having to go through a rebuilding season just to tranistion to a 4-3 we hope will work

    • burt reynolds

      Teo and van noy? Teo is in middle and van not isn’t even a charger.

      • Derek

        I was hypothesizing best case scenario if we converted to a 4-3. Kelechy played weak side olb when Beason was in Carolina

    • greg

      Every great defensive system requires everybody be great at their assignments. Its more about the type of players we have. Ernie pointed out, both liuget and Reyes were 4-3 DT in college, playing out of position in our 3-4. Ingram played in a hybrid system for spurrier and played all over fro. DT, de, to even ilb when asked. He is a freak of an athlete. And actually butler finished the last few years with almost as many tackles and ff as Kuechly but just missed more games and doesn’t have the same cast of players around him. (ahem Greg hardy, luteleilei, munnerlyn…) sure he didn’t have any 24 tackle games but we don’t need butler to be kuechly. We need butler to stay healthy and lead THIS defense.

      I totally agree with the van noy pick and that we could use freeney and jj at de but we could also draft some young blood there. Still think we need a better veteran presence at CB. As “deep” as this year db’s are lets be real good corners rarely make an impact first year. Getting somebody like Corey Graham from BAL could be a great plug in starter for our def. till we figure out the future.

      however if we can pick up a solid nt in FA like soliai or Franklin maybe we keep giving pags a chance with 3-4, but so many teams are running hybrids, hell we even run a 4-3 and nickel formation problem is we usually rush 4 when we do instead of bringj g the blitz from those packages

      • Derek

        Forgot that about Luiget and Reyes but butler is not kelechy and like you said we def don’t have the panthers supporting cast. I dissagree about the 3-4. Just looking at a 3-4 pre snap you have to identify the mike and know that somebody is blitzing. As a lineman the pressure is on you to find your man this is y zone blocking has become popular. 3-4 with decent personnel looks good with good personal looks chaotic. 4-3 only looks good with great personel. Tampa bay is a good example. They have great personel but due to a few weak pieces have managed to have the highest ranking players in the worst defense.

    • Tyreece Kaete Sr.

      Lol i like this, and this is not Madden this is real lofe talent, a 4-3 is kool but a 3-4 is much better

  • Brett M

    Thanks for taking this topic on Ernie. I agree it seems like we have the personnel to make it happen. Instead of looking for the Unicorn of a nose tackle we can’t seem to find since JW, We can get an OLB like Van Noy in the 1st and if a DT like Hageman or Tuitt drops in 2nd. Even Sam in the later rounds might be an option to consider. If we win the battle at the line of scrimmage and generate more pressure on QB’s, it takes a lot of stress of our corners. Currently I don’t think we have the linebackers to generate that pressure

    JP’s got the ability to do this- he learned under Rivera

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      exactly… a freaking unicorn!!

  • Derek

    How bout we don’t become cowboys west. We just went to the playoffs now ppl wanna take the cowboy route back to medeocrity. Next let’s fire Tt and let dean make the decisions. O yeah and have an asiatant play caller

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      changing a defense around can make you better…. the saints switched it up with a new coordinator and did fine.

      • Derek

        From a 4-3 to a 3-4!!!!

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          To a defense that for their personnel!! We don’t gave a nose tackle or the linebackers for a 3-4

          • Derek

            I’m kinda late but they didn’t have exact 3-4 ppl either they ran out of rush backers by their first game that’s y they kept 3 safeties in. I respect your opinion n all but I really hope we get solai. If you’re a good player you find a way to get on the field. Cody didn’t do that. Cody is another cam.

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            Haloti Ngata is who Cody had to beat out.. a first round, top notch player who was elected to his FIFTH straight pro bowl this season, and is a better nose tackle than your favorite nose tackle Soliai.. Ngata had way better stats than Soliai did this season…. but Cody is supposed to beat him out, and is as bad as Cam Thomas because he couldn’t? That’s some pretty tough expectations you have there. Also, he had a dinged up knee this season to boot.

            I don’t know what kind of crack people are smoking if they think Tom Telesco is going to cut 4 players to make room to spend that kind of money on a 30 year old noise tackle to possibly a 3 year contract worth 5 million a year. There is more of a possibility that we get Nix or Hageman.. neither of which is that likely either. Count Raji out of this conversation too. He is too much money as well. Linval would be awesome, but the Giants have said they are going to try to keep him, and Linval might give them a hometown discount to stay. If they don’t, it’s because somebody paid him more than we could afford. He is going to be the most coveted nose tackle on the market, and we will probably get out-bid. That leaves Cody, or Aubrayo. One is young, and possibly has potential.. One is on his way out of the league, but is cheap, and played with us before.

            Think about it though… the fact that TT let Franklin go in the first place should speak volumes about what direction he is going. Put that together with the fact that TT has almost no cash to work with, and has only spent big money on young players like Cox (unfortunately) or on Freeney (because he had no choice).. and it isn’t hard to figure out where this is going. He’s probably drafting one, or signing a younger player, who has something to prove, to a smaller contact in FA…. Everything TT has said about Free Agency points to him not signing a guy like Raji or Soliai.. and the guys you are talking about picking up in the first round are already mocked to teams like the Steelers before we even pick… anything can happen… but, I’m not holding my breath on any of those guys. I am approaching it like this.. who is TT most likely to sign… not who do I want them to sign. Through the process of elimination, you can get a pretty good idea. Oh… and don’t be surprised if Cam is still on the team next season too… I can see him doing that too. That’s just how broke we are right now.

    • Julien Bélair

      haha cowboys don’t make me start on those cowgirls

  • Stefanie Smith

    I found this comment about the Chargers on NFL.com in an article about how the teams were built. Here it is

    “The Bolts have been mired in mediocrity because the majority of their nucleus is composed of average to below-average starters acquired in the early rounds of the draft. Difference-making talent is noticeably missing from the last half-decade of drafts.”

    3-4, 4-3 –I don’t care. but TT has to hit it right. As mad as I get when I read this stuff, it is sort of true.

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      i saw that… but the talent we do have is being misused.

  • ECAVILLE/Ace of Spades

    It’s not the time or the coach to switch. Confident Telesco will give Pagano what he needs to complete his job without forcing him to switch up his whole style. Pagano has been on the edge of greatness. Just stay calm and enjoy the ride.

    • Julien Bélair

      He will only get better

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      i differ in the opinion on pagano… we ranked 23rd in defense. 23rd and that was with the offense holding onto the football forever.

      • ECAVILLE/Ace of Spades

        I really liked the way the Defense looked against the Colts and down the last stretch of the season. If they were going to switch to 4-3 this next season then Pagano should have been let go and replaced already. The Chargers most likely have a solid plan in place. So far, in Telesco and McCoy I trust. Time will tell.

      • Derek

        23rd with not Melvin to rush the passer or freeny our defense needs depth

      • Sergio Quintero

        The statheads at pro football focus basically thought the chargers were the worst defense in football because the offense protected this defense so much, and the yards per play was atrocious basically all season.

  • Gunnar Martin

    Regardless of whether we should make the change or not, I doubt it will happen with Pags still here. If we got a new DC, then we could talk. But until then, it’s a no-go.

  • blu3ny3llow

    Yeah count me out of that “everyone” if they change so be it but I will always prefer the 3-4.

  • Cgoodness13

    We practically ran it at the beginning of the season with Freeney so it’s not that big of a leap. With Ingram back now and some new CBs our D should be top 10 or 15

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      we were pretty darn close.

      • Michael

        I say we go to a 5-2, or 6-1,,,,, lol

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          Haha

    • Julien Bélair

      good point

  • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

    Sign a stop-gap nose tackle this season, and go all in next season.

    • Julien Bélair

      is there someone else than Raji that you like in the FA or the draft?

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Terrence Cody. He had a knee injury he was coming off of, but I have this feeling he could be a breakout nose tackle. He played in the 3-4, came out of the Bama program (same as Fluke), got beat out by Hilorti Ngata.. but that ain’t a crime, was a second round pick, played in the Ravens defensive system (like double J.. gotta think that counts for something), and Ozzie Newsome scouted him & really likes him. I even heard Gruden saying “he will be a great steal for whoever picks him up in FA” on Monday night football this season, and that sick in mutt head. I read that he might not come too expensive either. Not to mention, he is still young, and relatively healthy. He has the experience to make a difference for us now, and seems to have a chip on his shoulder for losing the starting job in Baltimore. He could be a great player for years to come.

        Otherwise, I think we should sign back Aubrayo. That was the only move that TT made that I really didn’t understand. Whether he can admit his mistake, and sign Franklin back is another thing. All I know is that he fits the budget, would only require a one year contract, he knows Pags system, Liuget had a stellar year when he wad here, Reyes played better, and he didn’t do half bad in Indy. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Colts signed him again, honestly.

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          I didn’t understand letting Phillips go when he would have taken nothing

          • Julien Bélair

            I was happy phillips was not good. he disappear all game long exept for one sack wow awesome…

        • Julien Bélair

          TT gave a chance to Thomas that’s what happened. he was trying to give his young players a chance.

          cody seems ok for 1-2 years but he is not our future NT

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            I know WHY he did it, but I didn’t approve of it when the move was made, as the line was functioning great when Aubrayo was the nose. We were already blowing up the secondary, and I didn’t think that was a good idea. I defended Telesco after he made the move, for the reason you just stated.. but, it was a mistake, and that’s that… It happens. Lesson learned for TT, in his rookie GM year.

            As for Cody… Raji seems to be more of 1-2 year player at best, as he is 27. Cody is only 25, and has much more tread on the tires… why would he only be a one or two year solution? And, he probably won’t cost nearly as much. He is only a couple of years older than Liuget is. He’s certainly not on his way out of the league anytime soon… unless he gets hurt or something.

          • Julien Bélair

            my bad I thought Cody was older. But Raji can be a 4-5 years player too. 27 i still young

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            It is, and I like him too… Just think he is going to be too expensive. And even though 27 is still young.. I have a feeling it is a little too old for Telesco to pay that much for.

        • Sergio Quintero

          Plenty of NT options in free agency:
          Linval Joseph NY Giants
          Paul Soliai Dolphins
          Aubrayo Franklin Colts
          Terrence Cody Ravens
          B.J. Raji Packers
          Ryan Pickett Packers

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            Yes sir, there are…. If we DO go with FA for a nose tackle… I like the younger guys, because you could possibly sign them to an inexpensive two year deal… then keep them as a back-up if you want to draft a beast nose-tackle next season (if they do well, of course). Or, you could rotate your draft pick into the lineup slowly, until he gets up to NFL speed. Then you could make a decision on whether to keep him when his contract is up. Or, better yet.. maybe the guy ends up being the long-term solution, and there is no need to draft a NT at all. Seems like there is more upside & potential with the younger guys. If they do well.. problem solved. The older guys will need to be replaced, no matter how well they play.

            Linval Joseph NY Giants – I’m down with him. Decent stats, size, weight, age. The Giants run a 4-3, but he has the size & strength to play 3-4. He would be my second pick, after Cody. He HAS had back problems in college, and sometimes struggles with his weight. But, pretty sure he would be inexpensive. Why not?

            Paul Soliai Dolphins – Like him, and his talent level.. he’s a little on the older side, but a good player for sure. He would be stop-gap only, though… you are committed to drafting a nose next season, if you sign him. What’s his estimated price tag Sergio?

            Aubrayo Franklin Colts – Him or Soliai would be my pick, if we go with a one year (maybe two year max) stop-gap, and are certain we are drafting one next season. He’s a little long in the tooth at 33, but we already know he can thrive in our system.

            Terrence Cody Ravens – He’s young, plays 3-4 for the Ravens, came out of Bama, learned under Harbaugh, drafted by Newsome, and is my top pick. Even if it turns out he is just a two down run stuffer, we can hopefully get him cheap. Possibly keep Thomas as a back-up for two bucks & a ham sandwich, as Thomas’ strength is passing downs.. then have Lissemore as a back up too? Kinda like when we had 3 NT’s a few years ago. Just a thought. He is coming off of a knee injury, but I don’t think was that serious.

            B.J. Raji Packers – I like him the most, talent-wise.. but, I just don’t think it’s realistic with our salary cap. He would cost us a pretty penny, most likely. We have so many holes to fill. It would be like going “all in” on one player in FA… besides, I think he is just BARELY too old for Telesco’s “youth movement”, and I don’t see TT giving him a lot of money (unless his back is against the wall a la Freeney).

            Ryan Pickett Packers – 34? 14 years in the league? Not great stats posted last season.. Next.

            The real question is, is TT set on drafting his own NT this season, or next? Will he give a younger player like Cody or Linval a shot? Or, is he solely looking for someone to keep the seat warm for one season? It will be interesting to see what kind of moves he makes. Is it Free Agency yet?!!!

          • Sergio Quintero

            Soliai is my top guy, since he’s proven well above average NT, he’s probably not going to come in cheap he made 5.75 million his last year in Miami. My guess 2-3 year deal, 3.5-5 million per year.

            Joseph is probably the number 1 NT prospect in the market, he’s only 25, an established starter and productive with the Giants. Market estimation 4-5 year deal, at around 5-6.5 million per year.

            Cody is more of a guess, has never been a starter in the NFL, has hip & knee injuries, and carries more than 350 lbs, and not great stamina. The Alabama & Ravens coaching means he’s super well coached, something is missing on him for me. Maybe playing time will get the first round talent he has, but the fact the Ravens are making little or no effort to retain is a red flag. Market guess 2-3 year deal, 1-5-4 million market, he will have a volatile market.

            Aubrayo Franklin is damn good option for me, should command a 2 year deal at no more 2.5 million a year, and has played well in the SD system.

            Raji is too expensive, and too high profile and not much better than other options, Pickett is only an option if other guys are gone.

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            I am not reading too much into the Ravens letting him go. Newsome is on record saying he really likes him, but they have a 5 time pro bowl NT already, that Cody can’t beat out (not that many can beat out Ngata). Somebody is going to offer him more than they want to pay for a back up. They will probably draft one in the later rounds or sign a guy like Pickett if they don’t get one.

            It just seems to me that Soliai is going to be more money than we can afford this year.. same with Raji, and Linval. Franklin would make sense, but will TT sign back a player he already let go? Something tells me that isn’t his style. I would love to have a few of these guys, but I think that Cody is going to be the only one that fits our system, is in our price range, and is young enough for TT. Which means he’s probably drafting one.. lol.

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Not sure if we can land him, but peep this and see what you think. Draw your own conclusions. I think he could be the best fit for us.

        http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/terrence-cody?id=496768

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      Same plan as every year

      • Sergio Quintero

        What makes you think the plan will be changed??, I want the chargers to sign a big time corner I really don’t think I’ll get my wish either.

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          ha… that is the sad part

  • Mark Viguri

    Liked the idea 2 years ago when Chargers were loaded upfront. Would only do it if Chargers lost Butler and had to move Te’o to MLB with JJ and Ingram at OLBs.

  • Sergio Quintero

    I’m not against the idea, because you are in a position to have to overpay to get a NT here, but the DC will be the same, so there is no objective reason to expect a scheme change.

  • arnie

    Not EVERYBODY wants it.

  • nate lew

    John Pagano truly limits all the potential of our defense although it had none at LB for parts and CB all season. The 3-4 has more potential if you’re a brilliant coordinator, Pags is ‘creative’ but without purpose. I think until he’s replaced we’re best as a 4-3 because Liuget and Reyes are better as aggressive 1-gap players that are quick enough to beat 1v1 matchups to the QB but can’t show their talents holding double teams in 3-4.