FAB 2. How The Bucs Personnel Fits A 3-4 Defense
The Bucs will be playing some 3-4 defense next year, as well as continuing to play some 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. The scheme won’t really matter because Tampa Bay will be in nickel defense 70 percent of the time, especially in the pass-happy NFC South division.
But the majority of the existing players will be a scheme fit in a 3-4 front – just in case you are curious.
It doesn’t matter if the Bucs are in a 3-4 or 4-3 front as long the players attack. That’s all Bowles and his one-gap scheme are about.
The Big Takeaway
Bowles likes to play a 3-4 Under scheme, which is a one-gap, attacking style of defense that isn’t too far removed from a 4-3 one-gap scheme. The good news is that the Bucs have a lot of good defensive players in their front seven, especially after last year with the acquisition of guys like defensive linemen Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, Vita Vea, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and linebacker Kevin Minter.
Here is how the current Bucs defenders would fit in a 3-4 alignment:
3T Gerald McCoy / Vinny Curry
NT Vita Vea / Beau Allen
DE Carl Nassib / Will Gholston
RUSH (also called WILL) Jason Pierre-Paul / Noah Spence
JACK (also called Stack LB) Lavonte David / Adarius Glanton
MIKE Kwon Alexander / Kevin Minter
SAM Kendell Beckwith / Adarius Glanton
SS Jordan Whitehead /Andrew Adams
FS Justin Evans / Isaiah Johnson
CB Carlton Davis / MJ Stewart
CB Vernon Hargreaves / Javien Elliott
The Quotes That Matter
New Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said that fans shouldn’t get too caught up in what scheme the team plays under Bowles.
“There’s no doubt,” Arians said. “It’s just schematics – 3-4, 4-3. Everybody lines up the same if you’re a gap scheme, gap control defense. We tried to get Jason Pierre-Paul really, really hard in Arizona. We got Chandler Jones and he’s led the league in sacks over the last three years, so yeah, he fits extremely well because he can rush the passer. Seventy percent of the game now is nickel, so that’s a 4-2 or a three-man front. So yeah, those guys fit. If you can play football, we’ll find a spot for you.
“Again, what we’ll do is what our players do best. Three-four, four-three, some call is over and under. We call it different – they still line up the same. Not a two-gap team. We’re going to attack. As long as our players attack – in today’s NFL, you’re in nickel defense 70 percent of the time, so you’re playing a four-man line. We’ll have odd-man lines, we’ll have four-man lines. That’s just schematics to me.”
The key is that the Bucs are going to be in a one-gap, up-the-field, aggressive scheme under Bowles – the likes of which Tampa Bay fans may not have ever seen.
“There is no question that in this division the first thing you have to do is affect the quarterback, and you do that by attacking,” Licht said. “A sack sometimes can be a selfish act unless you get the ball out. So attacking the football and getting it out, and affecting the quarterback is what it’s all about.”
Arizona ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring defense (18.7 ppg), ninth in the league in total defense (368.9 avg.) seventh in the league in interceptions (18) under Bowles.
“He’s a completely different personality than Bruce,” Licht said of Bowles, who will be introduced to the media at AdventHealth Training Center on Friday afternoon. “He’s a little bit more subdued, but you don’t want to rattle his cage, though. He’s extremely, extremely bright. The thing as a coach that I love the most about Todd – it’s just like Bruce said – it’s not so much about the scheme as it is the players. He builds the scheme around the players and makes it fun for them on a week-to-week basis on how we can attack this particular team.”
The FABulous Ending
The beauty of having coaches like Arians and Bowles in Tampa Bay is that they will adapt their schemes to fit the talent, which is the true sign of great coaching. That, coupled with Bowles’ attacking philosophy, should make the Bucs a formidable team in 2019, especially on defense.
“Attack is a good word,” Licht said, describing Bowles’ philosophy. “The word ‘defense’ is semantics if you are defending your goal line. But really, you want to be on the offensive when you are playing defense. The whole theory behind his defense is to attack. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
Once again, Arians is excited to work with Bowles, who was one of his players at Temple back in the 1980s and also his defensive coordinator in Arizona from 2013-14. Bowles will have complete autonomy over the Bucs defense.
“That’s one of the things I learned in Indianapolis,” Arians said. “Becoming the interim leader, I was never the head coach, we always had Chuck as the head coach. As the interim leader, there wasn’t any time. I learned how to delegate. Do your job, do your job, I’ll do my job, I’ll decide if we go for it on fourth and it worked. Fortunately, I got Todd in Arizona. If I click over – and I usually don’t have to tell him to blitz anyway – but if I click over [on the headset], bring ’em all. And he knows it.”