The Patriots have played both 4-3 and 3-4 base defenses during Bill Belichick‘s tenure in New England, and they’re likely to play a mix of the two in 2013. That might seem like a daunting task to some, but the hooded genius doesn’t think it’s such a big deal.
“I don’t know. I think it depends on what you’re doing,” Belichick told reporters prior to the Patriots’ practice in Philadelphia on Tuesday. “I personally never felt like it was that big of a deal.”
The reason behind the question stems from Chip Kelly‘s decision to institute a 3-4 system with the Eagles this offseason. The change has been a challenge for some of the Eagles’ defenders, although Belichick doesn’t seem to understand why.
“Guys have to play on the end of the line of scrimmage — whatever you want to call them, linebackers, defensive ends, crash-ins, whatever term they have — guys have to play inside of the outside guy on the line of scrimmage and they’re some version of 5-technique, 4-technique, cutback players, however you want to call it,” Belichick said of the defense. “So I don’t think the spacing is — it’s important, I’m not saying that, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. We play an even front, we play an off front. I’m sure Philadelphia will do the same thing, even having not seen them. I’m sure that we’ll see an even front from them before it’s all over. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Belichick even evoked his legendary New York Giants defenses from the late 1980s to give a concrete example of how the difference between the two base defenses can be vastly overrated.
“People called us a 3-4 team when I was the defensive coordinator with the Giants and Lawrence [Taylor] rushed 85 percent of the time, so everybody treated us like we were a four-man line, but to the media and the fans it was a 3-4, and vice versa,” Belichick said.
The Patriots haven’t had much trouble with the variation of defensive sets yet in nearly two weeks of training camp. But the true test for both teams will come when they take the field in their first preseason game on Friday.