One of the first things that was established when the Miami Dolphins hired Brian Flores to be their next coach was that the defense would begin a major overhaul, switching from a base 4-3 that they have run for the past several seasons under numerous defensive coordinators, to a more hybrid scheme that featured lots of 3-4 scheme elements.
Back in January, before Flores was ever hired, we broke down what the Dolphins would need to make a 3-4 scheme work, and now that is becoming reality even as we speak, and that has forced the players to completely change their philosophy on the field.
“Last year, we were attacking. Now you have to read the blocks." said defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. "That’s probably the biggest challenge for me. (I am) used to getting off the ball, trying to attack the offensive line. Now you have to read and watch where they’re going and playing more with your hands out in front of you.”
The versatility that comes with running a 3-4 is what makes it such an appealing scheme, but it also comes with a lot of cerebral responsibility, and the players themselves must also be versatile.
In the case of Davon Godchaux, who projects to be used as a 3-4 defensive end, he'll have to not only be fast enough to rush the passer on passing downs, but he'll have to have the strength to take on guards and centers and keep them away from the linebackers, who ideally will be Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso acting as the inside linebackers.
But Godchaux won't just be playing there, he'll evidently also be lining up as the nose tackle, which traditionally requires an extremely large individual meant to take on extra blockers. Godchaux will also have that on his plate as part of the scheme versatility.
“The ultimate goal is to be a team player (at) my nose position." He said. "If I’m in 1-tech, play A-gap, 2-I, play the A-gap, if I move to a three-play B-gap. It’s the same thing we’re doing. We’re playing the same gap. We just went from attacking to read.”
With the revelation that Brian Flores intends to have Minkah Fitzpatrick playing just about every position in the secondary, as well as linebacker, and pass rusher Nate Orchard will be tasked with multiple responsibilities as well, this Dolphins defense is set to become the most complicated it's been in years.
Given how predictable they've been since the days of Kevin Coyle, that's not a bad thing by any means, and fortunately, Godchaux is quickly adapting.
“I’m very comfortable." He said. "The first couple days, (I was) a little rusty. Each and everybody was a little rusty. Speaking of myself, a little rusty. I’m coming out here each and every day, getting the techniques, going through the growing pains of the 3-4, 4-3 defense.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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