The San Diego Chargers run a 3-4 defense with three defensive linemen and four linebackers. San Diego’s front office signed former Indianapolis Colts defensive end/linebacker Dwight Freeney last month, and this signing is one of the reasons why San Diego should change to a 4-3 defense.
Freeney struggled last season due in part to a high ankle sprain that he suffered against the Chicago Bears in Indianapolis’ first regular season game of the 2012 NFL season. However, the change from defensive end to outside linebacker also contributed to his struggles; Freeney had five sacks, which was the lowest total of his career when he played in at least 10 games during a season.
Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget were converted to defensive ends, but they were defensive tackles in college. Liuget is arguably the best pass rusher on San Diego’s roster with the departure of Shaun Phillips to the Denver Broncos, so Reyes should be switched from defensive end to defensive tackle.
Freeney was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro defensive end, with his last Pro Bowl appearance coming in 2011, when he had 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The switch from outside linebacker to defensive end would maximize Freeney, and switching Reyes to defensive tackle could help the Chargers’ run defense repeat their success last season when they ranked third in fewest yards per rushing attempt allowed.
Melvin Ingram was projected to start at outside linebacker alongside Jarret Johnson before the former tore his ACL two months ago, which left a whole at one of the outside linebacker spots.
Freeney played outside linebacker for the first time in his career last season, but he was so successful at defensive end, and it seemed as though Indy made an unnecessary change with him.
Phillips led San Diego with 9.5 sacks in 2012 before leaving as a free agent this year. Freeney could match this production if San Diego goes from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense for the 2013 season.