Could the Casey Hampton Injury Push Steelers Towards A 4-3 Defense?

Now that Casey Hampton is down with the ACL Injury and most likely will not be on the team next year because of it what should the Steelers do?  They have been rumored to be looking at Ziggy Hood at Nose Tackle.  They could draft someone in the first or second round like Dontari Poe.  There is another option though.  They could switch to a 4-3 defense.

This would be a huge change for the Steelers.  They have been running a a 3-4 for so long that they would have to really adjust.  Dick Lebeau is not a 4-3 guy.  He is a zone blitz guy.  Mike Tomlin is though.  He is a Tampa 2 defensive guy.  He could make this switch work.  This would play to the defense that Tomlin likes to run.  He already has his playbook and could implement this over the summer.

We do have the ability to do this.  We have the personnel to get the job done.  In the last few drafts we have taken guys that can play both the 4-3 and the 3-4 schemes.  Ziggy Hood, Jason Worilds, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons and Cameron Heyward are all guys that could easily make the switch  They are scheme diverse.  It would not be that big of a difference to who is already on the field.  It may actually make the pass rush more effective.

This is what the front seven could look like if we were to switch to a 4-3.

  • DE- Brett Keisel or Jason Worilds
  • DT- Ziggy Hood
  • DT- Cameron Heyward
  • DE- LaMarr Woodley or Jason Worilds
  • OLB- James Harrison
  • MLB- Lawrence Timmons or a Draft Pick
  • OLB- LaMarr Woodley or Lawrence Timmons

It could also help with our cap situation.  If we made this adjustment we could release James Farrior and Larry Foote saving us $5.82 million.  We would not have to rush to replace them either.  We would have the guys on the roster to fill the positions.  We could spend picks where we need them.  Add this to the $4.89 million that could come off for Hampton and the Steelers have already gotten back over $10.5 million of the around $25 million we are over the cap.  Straight releasing these guys would be easier then trying to get all these restructures done and them not really contributing.

It may make the Steelers look at a true 4-3 rush end.  Though I think LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds could easily make the switch back and dominate.  They would even still be able to stay stood up if they need to.  The Steelers already basically run a 4-3 in their Nickel Defense.  They run a 2-4 which is 2 defensive lineman and 4 linebackers.  Woodley and Harrison are Defensive ends in that sense of the scheme.  Teams are passing all the time.  The base defense is not run as much as it used to be.  When a team goes 3 wide the defense heads to this nickel defense.  We already do it.  Could we do it all the time though is the question.

The pass rush could be dominating this way as well.  Could you imagine Woodley and Harrison coming off the same side on every play.  How do you block that?  Even Lawrence Timmons with no one to block him because teams are already blocking the front 4. We would have 6 pass rushers on the field on every play.  The things you could do with that are out of control.  We could still do the zone blitz out of this on passing downs.  Adding Worilds as a pass rusher instead of Farrior on each play because he does not need to do anything but rush is fun to think about.  Our pressure could increase drastically.

We would also get younger by doing this.  The only over 30 guys left in the front seven would be Harrison and Keisel.  After that the oldest guy would be LaMarr Woodley who is only 27 years old.  You would be replacing an aging Hampton, Smith, Farrior, and Foote with the guys on your team and not having to rebuild.  The Steelers would not have to go throw money at guys to fill these spots.  Instead of replacing 2 positions you would be replacing 0.  That gives the Steelers so much more flexibility.

This would have to be a change that is made now though.  If they wait it will not work.  This is something that needs to be worked on now and through the entire summer.  We need to be doing this at the first mini camp.  It will take that much work to learn a new defense.

Just a thought.



  • Bob A

    They could do this; however, since Dick Lebeau is coming back as Defensive Coordinator, my bet would be on them spending a high draft pick on a defensive tackle.  Maybe Devin Stills from Penn State – 2nd round.  They talk about switching every year since Mike Tomlin took over from Bill Cowher & never do.  I think there primary package will be 3-4 — maybe they’ll mix in a little 4-3 in certain situational football.

  • Fan

    Bob – agreed.  Dick my be getting old but he understands the game better than most.  They do need to spend $ to protect Ben tho, it’ll be intresting to se how this shakes out come May! 
    Go Giants!

  • railrider1

    switch to a 4-3 defense would be a definite smart decision