Linebacker Scott Fujita believes the Cleveland Browns defense can successfully adapt to the 3-4 multi-front scheme that new defensive coordinator Ray Horton plans to establish. Fujita, a free agent who spent his past three years playing in Cleveland, may be forced into retirement after being diagnosed with a narrowing of the spinal column after suffering nerve damage in his neck in October. Still, he has close ties with his Cleveland defensive teammates and wanted to give them words of encouragement before they endure a transition in their defense alignment.
“Sometimes people can get too wrapped up in the 3-4, 4-3 conversation,” said Fujita. “To me it’s about trying to find a system that best suits the talent you have on the team. If you have a general philosophy of being a 3-4, you can still toy around and do some kind of a hybrid, much like Arizona has done the last couple of years or Pittsburgh, where they keep a defensive linemen slanting and moving constantly.
Fujita believes middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson will continue to be the shining point of the defense even as it transitions to a 3-4 scheme.
“D’Qwell is athletic enough where he’s still going to make plays but he’s one of those guys that you just don’t want to leave unprotected,” said Fujita.
Fujita believes the Browns defense has enough young and versatile players that will make the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 a smooth transition. The 33-year-old Fujita would like to play for the Browns again as they make this switch in their defensive arrangement but he is still recovering from a neck injury he suffered in October and recognizes his NFL playing days may be over.
“I’m not rushing into anything, but I think we all know I’ve had one neck surgery [13 years ago] and I’m potentially facing another one if things don’t calm down in the next year or so,” Fujita said. “I’ve been through so much in the last year, year and a half, I think I just need to catch my breath and take some time and figure out the next step.”