Double 3-Technique Scheme
The Vikings' decision of drafting Sharrif Floyd (or should I say gift) has been highly praised as the first big steal of the 2013 draft. I can go on-and-on about how lucky the Vikings were to have Floyd fall in their lap, but there has been one criticism that fans often bring up: Sharrif Floyd's projected position in the NFL is playing the 3-techniqe (or under-tackle) on the defensive line. However, the Vikings is more in need of a 1-technique player (or nose tackle).
What's All This Technique Mumble Jumble Talk?
For those not familiar with the term: the 3-technique is when the defensive player lines up on the outside shoulder of the offensive guard. In that situation, the defensive player will normally have the responsibility of the "B gap" which is the space between the offensive guard and offensive tackle.
... At least this is how the 3-technique tackle looks in every variation of the alignment technique system that I've seen. Of course, being coaches, they couldn’t just agree on a universal standard.
This is one relatively simple example of a system of D-line alignments:
This is another perhaps more common example of the alignment system. Even numbers are head-on techniques, and even numbers with 'i' are the inside shoulder:
Personally, I have a third system that I prefer, but to avoid confusion, I'll use the last example as it's arguably the most common.
Back to the issue at hand, the Vikings want Floyd to be a starter, but Minnesota already have an All-Pro 3-technique tackle in Kevin Williams. He might be past his prime, but he's still a good player you'd want to have on the field on every down. Even a first rounder with great talents like Sharrif Floyd will have a hard time taking snaps away from Kevin Williams.
It's important to look at is the current situation at nose tackle, and folks... it ain't pretty!
Letroy Guion was one of the worst-performing 4-3 nose tackles in the league last year. I don't watch the nose tackle much, but if you don't want to take my word: Pro Football Focus ranked Guion as the NFL's worst defensive tackle in 2012. How can you blame him? Guion is a decent 3-technique player who plays out of position. The opposing team often needed only one blocker on Guion which in turn caused Kevin Williams to have to face doube-teams. Fred Evans has been on the roster for a long time, but still has not grown into the player the Vikings want. And the fact that he can't beat out Guion speaks for itself
People complain about Kevin Williams getting old and his numbers being down, but the fact is that the loss of Pat Williams effected more than one position as Kevin Williams is constantly facing double-teams.
What should the Vikings do?
Option 1: Move Floyd to nose tackle and Vikings will manage to start both Kevin Williams and Sharrif Floyd. Many people will say that Floyd is not a good fit playing the A-gap, but can he be any worse than what the Vikings already have?
Option 2: Move Kevin Williams to nose tackle, letting the rookie Sharrif Floyd play under-tackle. Kevin Williams is described as a "perfect" 3-techinque, but he has shown that he can also take on double-teams and he has a ton of experience. Switching to a position which demands less explosiveness can also be a good idea considering for a 32 year-old veteran.
Option 3: Rotate Sharrif Floyd and Kevin Williams at the 3-technique, and perhaps substitute Floyd in at the other tackle spot next to Williams in pass situation. This scenario is what the majority see most likely to happen in 2013. It's a good plan for a rookie DT who is not guaranteed to be a starter anyways. However, if Sharrif Floyd is as good as suggested it'll be a shame not to have him start. Also, going into another season without a single decent nose tackle is an awful situation.
Option 4: Switch To A Double 3-techique Scheme
There are different ways to get two 3-technique tackles on to the field at the same time, but the most well-known is called the "Wide 9".
The Wide 9 will not be a drastic scheme change as it's rather tweaks of the alignment of the front four in Minnesota's 4-3 scheme. Still, this is the most extreme option and most fans have not even considered this. Strange, considering that a fellow division team known for their D-line already incorporates the Wide 9, Detroit Lions. This scheme is not used by many teams, but statistics has shown that it can be very effective with the right personnel.
A little video presentation of the Wide 9
I would like to go deeper into the pro's and con's for the Wide 9 and why it can be a effective for the Vikings. I also believe a small tweak of the Wide 9 might be even better, but I'm tired of writing for today.
Perhaps some other day...