What if the Colts Switched to a 3-4 Defense?

June 21, 2010 by


I have always wanted to do an article like this for the Indianapolis Colts. Well, now, here it is.

What if the Indianapolis Colts switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme instead of being their usual old 4-3 defensive scheme?

The 3-4 defense is growing as one of the most-used defensive schemes in the National Football League. So what if Indy switched to it?

I will be breaking down what their linebackers and defensive line will look like because their cornerbacks will look the same.

So let’s break it down.

Left Defensive End

I believe Fili Moala will finally become a starter if he were in a 3-4 defensive scheme. He would fit nicely at defensive end on left side since he will be more explosive than any of the other guys on the defensive line with him.

Moala is 6’4″ and 303 pounds and he can create a lot of damage like he did back with the USC Trojans.

Expect Eric Foster to be his backup on the defensive ends side.

Nose Tackle

Daniel Muir has come up big for the Indianapolis Colts when he was the starting defensive tackle in the 2009-10 season.

He produced 52 tackles and half a sack for the Colts. Those are the stats you might see from a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. I see Muir having a lot of tackles and 2-5 sacks.

I see him clogging up the hole well in the middle. Muir is a strong guy and he is the right fit at nose tackle, as he is the biggest player on the team at 6’2″ and 312 pounds.

Right Defensive End

Antonio Johnson is another guy who came up big on the defensive line for the Indianapolis Colts during the 2009-10 season. He finished the year with 34 tackles and one sack.

At 6’3″ and 310 pounds, Johnson can create a lot of damage on the line. He is a fearful defender and he can create some big impact on the running game like he did in 2009.

Left Outside Linebacker

Robert Mathis played great, with 37 tackles and 9.5 sacks in the 2009-10 season. I see him having way more tackles and more sacks. He can be another James Harrison.

Mathis is explosive enough to be a linebacker and has the size to become one of the top ten in the league at 6’2″ and 245 pounds.

Expect Jerry Hughes to play the role of Larry English in the San Diego Chargers’ 3-4 defense: being in a rotation with Shawne Merriman. I see Hughes doing the same with Mathis.

Left Inside Linebacker

Clint Session is continuing to be a dominant force for the Indianapolis Colts’ 4-3 defensive scheme and in the linebacking corps.

Expect a lot more impact in the 3-4.

I see Session racking up over 100 tackles and a few sacks, too. At 6’0″ and 235 pounds, he has the right size to do a lot as a right inside linebacker in the 3-4.

He is recently coming off a 103-tackle year.

Right Inside Linebacker

Gary Brackett has to be mentioned here and he is at left inside linebacker. Brackett is coming off a year with 99 tackles and one sack as he displayed himself as the true heart and soul of the Colts’ defense in the 2009-10 season.

Like Session, Brackett has the right size with a height of 5’11″ and the weight of 235 pounds. Brackett will probably rack up 120 tackles, if not more.

He can be a more dominant linebacker in a 3-4, in my opinion.

Right Outside Linebacker

Who else would it be? It would be like no other…Dwight Freeney! I see him being the most dominant out of any other Colt player, if they were to be in a 3-4 defense.

At 6’1″ and 268 pounds, he is the size and speed to become a Top 5 right outside linebacker.

He is already coming off a season of 24 tackles and 13.5 sacks.

Here’s something better for him: 50-70 tackels and 10-16 sacks! That is where Freeney can lock himself as a Pro-Bowler. I see Freeney doing a lot of damage in a 3-4.


The Colts are heading for a bright, young, and new year with the 2010-11 NFL season coming up.

Yes, they enter this year with a 4-3 defensive scheme. But after that year, I hope they will sometime think of a 3-4. I see the Colts being an easy Top Ten defense in that scheme.

But I guess we’ll never know.

At least we got a taste.

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    6 Responses to “What if the Colts Switched to a 3-4 Defense?”
    • Martin Shields says:

      That linebacking core would be scary but then again, If somethings not broke, don’t fix it.

    • Rottney says:

      Scary linebacking group, but not nearly sas scary as the defensive end group is now. the colts are a classic 4-3 defense and it will remain that way for a long time.

    • chris says:

      as good as mathis and freeney owuld be at outsider linebacker in a 3-4, they’re better at defesnive end in the 4-3.

      also the inside linebackers are nearly big enough. in a 3-4 the guards will be blocking the inside linebackers and the defenisve lineman aren’t good enough to demand double teams that would free up the inside linebackers.

    • Ryan Michaels says:

      Colts should consider doing a hybrid of the 4-3 and 3-4.

    • Michael Meredith says:

      Cornerback position is too weak to go 1on1 with any recievers if they choose to blitz.

      does anyone else worry about lacey and powers?

    • Ross says:

      It’s been awhile since you wrote this, a lot has changed. Daniel Muir is gone. Clint Session is gone. Kavell Conner has emerged as a talent. And, the Colts have drafted Drake Nevis who has shown spots as a potential breakout pass rusher.
      Well, as I am a Colts fan and an avid Madden player I’ve often wondered myself.
      Now, these are only video game results. But consider the following. In my opening two games, my defense did NOT play well. I was defeated by the Green Bay Packers & narrowly beat the Texans in a shoot out. My next four games have bee against the Titans, Bears, Jets, & Vikings.
      Now again, granted, these are only video game results. But I yielded 34 points to the Packers & 28 to the Texans. Switched to the 3-4 & have only allowed 10 points to the Titans, nothing to the Bears, 3 points to the Jets, & 3 points to the Vikings. I fumbled a punt on the 30 against the Vikings. With a Peyton Manning led offense (2012 season), these games are coming in atrociously one sided.
      Here’s how I did it:

      RDE – Drake Nevis. In Madden he’s now yielded 4 sacks in 6 games.
      NT – Fili Moala. Played nose tackle for USC’s 3-4 defense. Currently leading team with 5 sacks.
      LDE – Dwight Freeney. Now, this IS only a video game. But, realistically speaking, Freeney plays with the best leverage & of the obvious options, looks the least like a linebacker. He’s yielded 3 sacks.
      To elaborate more, the defensive scheme here isn’t unpredecented for the Colts. In 2009, they utilized a “roaming Tackle” with Raheem Brock beginning plays upright & moving under & over the Colts nose tackle. Essentially all I’ve done is stood Robert Mathis up. Though, I’ve become a little weak to the weak side by sliding my line to the strong side, the linebackers have developed an astonishing ability to contain runs.
      Continuing on:

      OLB’s: Kavell Conner & Robert Mathis. Both players have been oft injured and only collect 2 sacks (both Mathis). Conner is my strong side back because of his superior coverage skills compared to Mathis.
      Then the obvious:
      ILB’s: Pat Angerer & Gary Brackett. They’re taking turns leading the team in tackles each game.

      I don’t know if my virtual reality will ever become a reality. But, it’s certainly been fun.

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