The 3-4 defense has become the big thing in the NFL, mostly thanks to the Steelers and Patriots, but the alignment has only made cameo appearances in the NFC North, notably a couple years ago when the Vikings used it for a few games because of injuries along their defensive line. Now, however, there are not one but two teams in the division mulling adopting the alignment as their base defense. Not surprisingly, those two teams, the Packers and Lions, had terrible issues with their defenses last year, making big changes an inevitability. Both teams have already made drastic alterations to their coaching staffs: The Lions have hired former Titans D-coordinator Jim Schwartz to be their head coach, and Schwartz is now reportedly discussing with GM Martin Mayhew the possibility of ditching the 4-3 scheme the team used last year when they finished dead last in yards and points allowed. Meanwhile, the Packers have canned defensive coordinator Bob Sanders and replaced him with Dom Capers, a noted 3-4 guru. A fringe benefit of switching to the new defense for either team could be the chance to rope in Panthers stand-out Julius Peppers who has been vocal about his wish to leave Carolina and play the pass-rushing outside linebacker spot in a 3-4 somewhere. Whatever these teams end up doing, they both have a long way to go before they match the play of the division’s best defense, which resides in Minnesota (thank you very much).