Experiment some with personnel this year. Make the switch full-time for next season.
Yes, one way or another, the switch back to the 4-3 defensive needs to happen, and here is why.
As the great, immortal, flamboyant, out-spoken, all-inspiring, self-exposing, pottery-molding future Hall of Famer Chris Cooley has so eloquently pointed out, our defensive linemen are unable to get any penetration(I'm sure you don't have any problem with this Chris). It's time to shed the weight(and contracts) of guys like Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, and even Barry Cofield, in favor of the smaller, quicker 3-technique defensive tackles you find in a 4-3 defense. Enough of this gap control, commanding double team, outside linebackers into coverage BS! Let's get some guys in here who can simply put their hand in the dirt, pin back their ears, and get after it!
We have a few pieces in place already to have an effective 4-3, and we have seen PLENTY of 4-3 looks this season. Ryan Kerrigan would be an absolute stud playing full-time with his hand in the dirt. I don't yet know how effective Trent Murphy would be at this level as a defensive end, but if his play as an outside linebacker has been any indication so far this season, I'd have to imagine it couldn't be any worse. The rookie Jackson Jeffcoat was an All-American defensive end in college, and would be far better playing with his ears pinned back, than in space, where he would struggle. It seems as though we have our linebacking corp already intact, with Riley as the MIKE, Robinson as the SAM and Compton as the WILL. This is a pretty solid unit, and it boasts the skills you'd like to see in a 4-3 alignment - a down-hill middle linebacker, a solid pass-covering WILL backer, and an all-everything SAM.
Where we need help is the interior of the defensive line.
A guy like Chris Baker can be effective in any scheme, and I feel he could be a disruptive force as either a 3-technique, or a 1 tilt defender. We would need a stud defensive tackle who could make plays in the backfield to become a competent unit up front. The 2015 free agent class has some interesting names including Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Nick Fairley, and Stephen Paea, who is really coming into his own this season with the Bears. Although I don't expect all these guys to hit the open market, one or two could be avaliable come March.
The 2015 NFL draft doesn't have the projected depth this year along the defensive line that we have seen in recent classes, but there are two top guys who really stand out. USC's Leonard Williams is the cream of the crop, and a likely top 5 pick. Eddie Goldman from Florida State is another who can be an immediate impact player along the defensive line. The Redskins look to be heading towards a top 10 pick, and both players(although both are just juniors)could be an option in the first, with Goldman being a great pick in a trade-back scenario. If we looked into the early part of the second round, a guy who we could target would be Ohio State senior Michael Bennett.
If we could land a free agent like Paea or Fairley, and pair either player with Leonard Williams, we would boast a unit with top 10 potential, and have a front four comprised of first and second round picks who are all in their prime. If Orakpo and his agent feel the recent pec injury(now his third) will hurt his value on the open market(and I'm sure it will) maybe he will consider returning to the Redskins on a one or two year incentive-laden contract, and go back to playing his natural position of defensive end.
The future could be bright for a unit who has been in question for the last three years. Change needs to come, and many have called for that change to start with the firing of Jim Haslett. This could be a good move by the organization, but the better one would be a return of the 4-3 defense.