The San Diego Chargers were in a tough spot when outside linebacker Melvin Ingram went down with a torn ACL at the start of organized team activities. With no proven 3-4 outside linebackers left on the free agent market, the Bolts had to turn to the best available player regardless of fit in Dwight Freeney, who fits best as a 4-3 defensive end.
Head coach Mike McCoy called Freeney a “perfect fit” for their defense, according to Pro Football Talk, but that sounds a bit of a stretch. The former Indianapolis Colt struggled a bit last season transitioning to the 3-4 after ten successful seasons at 4-3 defensive end. Earlier this offseason, Freeney stated he wanted to return to a 4-3 scheme in 2013.
Still, much like McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt have done in the past, defensive coordinator John Pagano appears ready to adapt his scheme to fit the players on his team. Freeney told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that the Chargers will run both the 3-4 and 4-3 in 2013.
“They’ll run both. They’re willing to feature me and free me up to make plays. And they’re going to put me in good matchups in the 3-4,” Freeney said.
Last season, the Chargers primarily ran a 3-4, but still showed some 4-3 looks. The Chargers are making the smart choice to tweak their scheme to fit Freeney, yet not completely scrap it – which had some success last season – for a 33-year-old player on the downside of his career. Kudos to Pagano and the Chargers organization for willing to put in more work this offseason to make it work with Freeney. Good coaches put their players in the best positions to succeed and that’s exactly what McCoy, Whisenhunt and Pagano are set to do in 2013.