How Will The Hybrid Defense Fare in Year One?
The big splash that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had this off-season was undoubtedly the hiring of “Bucco” Bruce Arians. What came next was yet another great hiring in his former defensive coordinator in Arizona, Todd Bowles. Bowles has been known to run a 3-4 defense for the majority of his career. However, he has not kept it a secret that he will run a defense that will use his personnel to their strengths. It seems inevitable that the Bucs will be in a hybrid/3-4 defense. The team that has made this transition most recently is the Detroit Lions.
In 2017, the Lions’ defense was bad. Ranking 21st in points allowed (376) and 27th in yards allowed (5,692). As well as finishing the year with 35 sacks. Those numbers led to a 9-7 record and ultimately, their head coach, Jim Caldwell, was fired.
After the team parted ways with the offensive mind, they decided to bring in New England’s “mad scientist”, Matt Patricia. The former Patriots defensive coordinator immediately brought in change to the Motor City. In 2018, the Lions’ defense ranked 16th in points allowed (360) and 10th in yards allowed (5,360). Also, tagging on 43 sacks with their top pass rusher, Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, being sidelined for 9 games due to an injured shoulder. Ziggy led the team with 12 sacks in 2017. The one to take his spot as the top pass rusher was only able to rack up a mere 7.5.
So, it goes without saying that the transition to a hybrid defense had a pretty immediate impact. The Bucs are looking to have that same kind of change. And honestly, there’s nowhere to go, but up. Ranking 31st in points allowed (464) and 27th in yards allowed (6,134). Tampa Bay’s defense in 2018, has been the team’s handicap and that obviously needs to change.
Bowles has a lot of work to do if he wants to make the defense in the top-15. The Bucs have brought in Shaquil Barrett, former Denver Bronco who sat behind the great Von Miller, a man who is looking to finally get his chance as a starter. Along with, Deone Bucannon, who played for Bowles when he was the coordinator in Arizona.
The Bucs also already have Jason Pierre-Paul, who tallied up a team-high 12.5 sacks last season. And then, the former second-round pick, Noah Spence is still on the roster. Spence could be looking at a lot more playing time now that the team is in a transition to a 3-4 4-3 hybrid. I for one know, fans are looking to finally see what Spence is capable of in this new scheme.