Much has been made about the new personnel that’s needed for the Redskins to smoothly make the switch to the 3-4 front, but one aspect that hasn’t been explored much is the new importance placed on weight for the defensive lineman. And when I say “importance placed on weight”, I mean “absolute need for hugely massive people.” Let’s put it this way: when the Redskins signed Vonnie Holliday, they told the 285-pounder that he needed to pack on some weight.
Let’s let Adam Carriker, one of D.C.’s new 3-4 ends, explain why:
"In a 4-3, you want penetrators up front. In a 3-4, there’s three defensive linemen and we’re two-gapping and you need bigger guys to do that," says Adam Carriker, the defensive end acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Rams.
Ah, well then. Maybe that explains why the Skins will be trotting out (and probably panting awhile afterwards) a defensive line that includes several 320+ players, including Fat Albert Haynesworth, who checks in at 350. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll lead to a more productive defense.
The Redskins ranked 16th in the NFL in rushing defense last season and opponents averaged 4.0 yards per rush. They were eighth in 2008, allowing 3.8 per carry. That was playing the 4-3 front.
Those numbers don’t always mean a lot. A team that finds itself behind late in games, as the Redskins did last year, will surrender rushing yards to their opponents who are mostly trying to milk the clock without risking a turnover.
They may rank higher in pass defense, because the other teams don’t throw on them late in games, and lower against the run, because that’s all they’ll see at the end.