Would the Steelers be better off using a 4-3 defense instead of the 3-4 that they use now? It’s worth exploring, and here’s why. Let’s start on the defensive line. Imagine Heyward and Tuitt as tackles flanked by two pass rushing ends. That would make a formidable line for any team. Of course, the Steelers would have to draft or sign an free agent defensive end. They would probably have to do both seeing they don’t have a true 4-3 end on the roster. Anthony Chickillo could be converted back to defensive end as an option also. Cam Heyward could be an option at end as well if needed.
Next, let’s look at the linebackers in a 4-3. I’d move Ryan Shazier to outside linebacker along with Bud Dupree. This will allow Shazier to cover backs and tight ends, while limiting apposing offensive lineman getting directly to him. Jarvis Jones would now move to middle linebacker. He’s proved at this point he can’t be an edge rusher. Playing in the middle would play to his strength which is tackling. I know what you’re thinking……. What about Lawrence Timmons?? Timmons cap hit next year is 15 million. That makes him a candidate to be cut or traded. The Steelers could redo his deal to lower his cap hit. In that case, Timmons would be a great middle linebacker.
This is all fun to think about, but the Steelers are very unlikely to change a defensive style that they have run for years. The 3-4 is a defense that the Steelers have run throughout the Cowher and Tomlin eras. With the way the defense has played the last few years maybe change isn’t a bad idea.