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4-3 vs. 3-4

New Bills coach Chan Gailey has preferred a 4-3 defense when he was the head coach at Dallas and Georgia Tech. But he is open to the idea of switching to a 3-4 defense.

The Bills haven't used that scheme since 2000, which was Wade Phillips last season as head coach. Gailey was exposed to the 3-4 when he was on Bill Cowher's Pittsburgh Steelers' staff.

"I don't want to sit here and say that we're going to do this and that today,'' Gailey said Tuesday. "But I know one thing, I'm much more open to the 3-4 than I used to be because I know what a pain it is to go against it every week.''

There is some merit to the Bills going to a 3-4 defense. Their offense has had an awful time playing against 3-4 teams and the Bills' three AFC East rivals use the defense. Perhaps the Bills would fare better when facing the 3-4 if they were practicing against it on a daily basis.

The downside to the 3-4 is the Bills don't have the personnel to run it. They lack a big, stout nose tackle to anchor the defense. Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said Tuesday he'd play the nose if asked, but he indicated a few weeks ago that the defense wasn't for him. At best, he could play defensive end, which is like a tackle in the 3-4. Same goes for Kyle Williams, whose tough enough to play nose tackle but lacks the size to hold up full time at the position.

The Bills' D-ends are all ill-suited for the 3-4. Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay lack the size to play end in a 3-4 and would be out of their element at outside linebacker. Schobel has already hinted at retiring. If the Bills go to a 3-4, it might make his decision to retire easier.

Some people believe the 3-4 is the best fit for Aaron Maybin, who was a rookie flop at D-end. He's athletic, but has to be more than a guy who relies on straight-line speed and nothing else.

Paul Posluszny shouldn't have a problem adjusting to playing next to another inside linebacker, which could be Kawika Mitchell if he returns next season. 

If Gailey moves to the 3-4, the Bills' defense is in for a major overhaul. It's also is in for a lot of struggles as the players try to get acclamated to the scheme.

---Allen Wilson


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Bills | Bills coaching
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