Some Bengals fans have worried that the difference between James Harrison's job in the Steelers 3-4 base package to his job as the SAM linebacker in the Bengals' 4-3 base package could cause some problems. However, Bengals linebacker coach Paul Guenther believes there is very little difference between the two.
"We all feel good about how he rushes the passer, obviously," linebackers coach Paul Guenther said of Harrison. "He's done the same coverage stuff that he did in Pittsburgh that he'll do here. Just a little difference in terminology and sight lines."
There are terminology differences between every defenses as coordinators and assistant coaches place their own systems with their teams. Since Harrison is used to being a pass rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, the difference in terminology between that and the SAM linebacker in a 4-3 may be fairly extensive, but Guenther believes that's all Harrison needs to learn.
"He just has to get used to how we want it done, not how he did it before; that's the main difference," Guenther said. "You try to assimilate the system with his terminology until he fully gets ours. 'This equals that,' until he can really grasp it."
Manny Lawson, last year's Bengals SAM linebacker, was only on the field during about a third of the team's snaps in 2012 since the defense was in nickel more often than not to help defend against the pass. If Mike Zimmer sticks to that system, Harrison won't be on the field as often as he was in Pittsburgh. However, when he is on the field, he could make a big impact. While the Bengals have a solid core of pass rushers already, adding another can't hurt.