Jim Schwartz has no plans to change his defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4

Posted Jan 22, 2013

Aside from that structural change, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz says he is open to adjusting defensive scheme to best fit the players on his roster

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz made it very clear Monday at the Senior Bowl that he has no plans to change his defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

Beyond that, though, Schwartz said everything else is fair game.

Schwartz said you can never say never when it comes to tweaking scheme, but he did reiterate that the 'Wide 9' is their base front right now.

"But you also don’t want to fit square pegs in round holes," he said. "You need to best put your players in a position for them to be successful and something that best fits their skill level.

"If you have really good man-to-man corners and you’re a zone team, then your guys that have poor zone instincts will play a little more man-to-man."

The truth is the Lions have eight starters on defense who are free agents this offseason and their personnel could look a lot different next season.

"You always have a philosophy and the philosophy behind your player acquisitions is that you need to have a plan for every player," he said.

"You don’t just pull names out of a hat and then say, 'This is how we’re going to fit them.' But things do change depending on what guys are good at.

"We evaluate everything and what we want to do is try and put our players in the best position that fits their skill level."

The Lions don’t exclusively use a 'Wide 9' scheme, which is when the defensive ends line up on the outside shoulder of the tight end to give them a one-on-one matchup for an optimal chance at the quarterback.

They do play a variety of different fronts but it’s predominantly out of the 'Wide 9'.

Kyle Vanden Bosch"We didn’t have enough sacks this year," Schwartz said. "To blame that on the 'Wide 9' and people that say that really don’t know what they’re talking about because every team in the league, when it’s third down, lines up exactly like we do. It puts guys in the best position to rush the passer.

"We aren’t exclusive that way and every year you’re going to try and put your players in what best fits their skill level for guys like Cliff (Avril) and (Kyle) Vanden Bosch and LoJack (Lawrence Jackson) and Willie (Young), who fit very well into that defense."

But with Avril and Jackson set to hit the free agent market in March and Vanden Bosch reaching the latter stages of his career, the personnel that fits the scheme right now might not necessarily be the same after free agency and the draft.

"What probably doesn't fit into our scheme is the 300-pound defensive end," Schwartz said. "But the guys that are hybrid outside linebacker types, guys that are 255, 265 pounds, traditionally guys that can run, guys that have good athletic ability, those guys generally fit into a wider-technique scheme."

Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and Texas A&M defensive end Demontre Moore is a perfect example of one of those types of players.

"It depends on personnel," Schwartz said. "It depends on how we go through OTAs and everything else. We’re always working and looking at tweaks."