Prior to last week’s preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers we heard a lot of reason why the team was looking forward to hitting the field. Most of them were of the generic variety, things like getting an opportunity to get in a real game situation and hitting someone in another color shirt.
Jim Schwartz was a little more specific when speaking about the opportunities that their preseason schedule provides. An mlive.com article from Phil Zaroo quoted Schwartz regarding the 3-4 defensive alignments they will see:
We have a very good opportunity, particularly on offense, in the preseason to really get good work versus 3-4 teams. We’re obviously not a 3-4 team. We play 4-3, and we play a very specific version of that. We’re gonna face a couple different flavors of 3-4 in the preseason, which will help us because I think we play eight or nine games against 3-4 teams this year.
The actual number of regular season games the Lions will play against 3-4 defenses is eight, that includes two games with the Green Bay Packers. Saturday night’s game will give the Lions another look at a 3-4 defense, something that is difficult for a 4-3 defense to replicate in practice.
The Broncos, as team that employs a 3-4 defensive alignment, are on the other side of that coin. They will four consecutive 4-3 defenses once the regular season begins and Josh McDaniels, like Jim Schwartz, sees this as a golden opportunity to prepare for those games according to his quote at PredominantlyOrange.com:
I think there’s always going to be a place for the 4-3. Our first four games are against 4-3 teams. This game will be great for us to be able to get use to blocking those types of players and schemes. I think the Lions are an example of why the 4-3 will probably stay in vogue because they’ve got smaller linebackers, but they can all run.