In today's year-round NFL calendar, fans have plenty of time to discuss and debate. From the best course of action in free agency, to potential draft picks, training camp battles and so on, there's never a shortage of topics to analyze and opine about. One topic that fans love to speculate about but rarely comes to fruition is a change of scheme. To be clear, new schemes are introduced frequently in the National Football League, but that almost always is reserved for when new coaching staffs are brought in. To change schemes under a long-standing regime like the Bill Belichick era in New England? That's much more rare.
But Belichick, known best for his defensive prowess, has decided that 2011 is the year for New England to make the shift away from the 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme. The change can't be made overnight. You have to play the scheme that matches your personnel, and for years the Patriots defensive roster was comprised of bodies that were better suited to a 3-4 look than the 4-3. However, after several years of player acquisition, Belichick must feel confident that the's got the right talent to make the switch.
One of Belichick;s stalwarts on defense the past three seasons, linebacker Jerod Mayo, is excited about the transition despite the fact that he excelled in the 3-4. The league's leading tackler from a year ago talked to WEEI in Boston about the progress the Pats' defense is making getting acclimated to the 4-3. Despite the truncated preparation period this offseason that eliminated mini-camps and OTAs, Mayo is feeling good about the Pats being ready to go when they kickoff the 2011 season against the Miami Dolphins on September 12th. Here's a few excerpts from the interview courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews.
Give us your impressions of the second preseason game and playing in the outside linebacker position in the 4-3 scheme?
"It's been different for me every day at practice. Coach Belichick has been putting in different things each and every day. We have been just trying to see what works and last night some things worked well for us, so we'll go back to the drawing board and take those good things out and work on the bad plays and see what happens."
Do you feel the defense is attacking more after the second preseason game in the new 4-3 scheme?
"All week the coaches have been telling us how fast of a team Tampa Bay was and things like that. We wanted to attack them and try to slow them down and that's what we did last night. We did a good job doing that."
Do you think there is a good chance this defense will evolve in the learning process and become comfortable before the season starts?
"Oh definitely and thats why we are going out here working hard each and every day in training camp. We are still having these long practices and trying to get everything right. Like you said we didn't have the OTA's and didn't have the off season we normally would have to install these types of things, but at the same time we are all working hard trying to get better. I think the practice will continue."
For more Pats coverage and discussion leading up to the 2011 season, head on over to Pats Pulpit.