Middle linebackers are clearly the backbone of IDP, but as Pittsburgh's James Harrison showed us again last week, it helps to stock your squad with a couple of kinetic, powerhouse OLBs in dominant 3-4 schemes. And, of course, there are other outliers. Patrick Willis is the right inside linebacker in the 49ers 3-4, and he's the most dominant performer in IDP -- largely because LOLB Manny Lawson spends a lot of time chasing slot receivers and TEs up the field in coverage, ROLB Parys Haralson is exclusively a pass-rushing ROLB, and LILB Takeo Spikes is an inconsistent performer because he's old, frequently injured and just doesn't get to the ball-carrier as quickly as Willis.
I'm not the first IDP specialist to impress upon readers that it's important to know the schemes and the corresponding roles involved in NFL defenses, but if it's worth saying once, it's worth repeating. The intricacies of the systems can be intimidating, especially when teams change in and out of their base packages frequently. You should, however, brush up on the basic depth charts and team reports once every couple of weeks just to make sure the defensive coordinator is still running the same system. Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, for instance, is well-known for his 3-4, but has been known to switch it up in big games when he smells an advantage. Redskins DC Jim Haslett installed a hybrid 3-4 in Washington this season, which has benefited Rocky McIntosh and LaRon Landry, as expected.
I am confused on how some of these people get their job?