Final week, Bucs GM Jason Licht joined the “Schein on Sports activities” Sirius XM radio program. On the present, Licht was requested about final 12 months’s protection and the way it in comparison with the 12 months prior. After all, it’s tough to match the 2 years given how banged up the Bucs protection was in 2021.
“Properly, we skilled a variety of accidents final 12 months on protection,” Licht mentioned. “Notably within the again half [of the season]. And that basically altered the best way [defensive coordinator] Todd [Bowles] and the sport plans needed to be, taking part in with a variety of completely different gamers at nook. Actually form of damage us initially. However to nonetheless end the season at 13-4 is a credit score to the job that Todd and his defensive workers did. And [head coach] Bruce [Arians] holding it collectively.”
It’s no secret that Tampa Bay’s secondary suffered greater than its’ justifiable share of accidents. Altogether, the unit misplaced a mixed 42 video games to accidents. 23 of these had been to starters. With that many accidents, the staff ended up deploying 12 completely different gamers of their secondary. These accidents made for 13 completely different mixtures of gamers taking the three highest snap counts at nook.
How did this have an effect on the Bucs’ protection scheme? I dove into the info to seek out out.
First, it’s vital to create a baseline. In 2020, the staff had its’ beginning 5 on the sphere for all however two video games. Throughout that season, the Bucs’ protection scheme was in single-high protection 51 p.c of the time, with two-high seems to be 45 p.c of the time. Bowles’ base protection is Cowl 3, and in 2020 he ran that protection 31 p.c of the time. In the meantime, Bowles ran some type of man protection 28 p.c of the time. In order that would be the baseline we are going to examine with the 2021 marketing campaign.
Trying on the breakdown above, you will note that when Bowles had his No. 1 cornerback, Carlton Davis, he caught to his 2020 technique nearly to a ‘T’. Bowles executed related recreation plans when he had Jamel Dean within the lineup. With Sean Murphy-Bunting, Bowles leaned into his single-high, Cowl 3 tendencies much more. And that’s the place the crux of Todd Bowles’ protection appeared to lie final 12 months. With Murphy-Bunting. Let’s have a look at the protection’s protection splits with SMB and with out.
The protection had its largest protection splits associated to Murphy-Bunting’s presence within the lineup.
Trying on the protection charges over the course of the season you get the next line-graph (Orange denotes two-high seems to be, whereas Blue denotes single-high):
The staff misplaced SMB early in Week 1. Instantly they began working extra two-high seems to be. Now have a look at Week 12 and past (place 11 on the graph). Discover how the single-high seems to be spiked and two-high seems to be plummeted. I’ll offer you one guess as to why that’s. SMB returned to the lineup in Week 11. It seems to be like Bowles gave him one week to get his toes again underneath him after which they had been off to the single-high races!
How does this relate to the staff’s low season technique? The signing of Logan Ryan appears very attention-grabbing when trying by the prism of this protection knowledge. Ryan has been at his finest when taking part in within the slot. Final 12 months the staff transitioned away from Ross Cockrell within the slot after SMB went down and moved towards Mike Edwards. With that transition got here a seeming want to maneuver away from Todd Bowles’ most well-liked protection seems to be. Ryan’s signing offers the staff with extra depth at slot nook that may probably enable the staff to climate accidents with out having to change their recreation plans as a lot.
Per @PFF, right here is how Logan Ryan has graded within the slot vs at free security since 2019 season
And right here is how Ryan has graded in man protection within the slot vs zone protection within the slot since 2019 season
Slot Zone Protection: 69.9
Slot Man Protection: 47.5
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) March 18, 2022
Total, Bowles continued to function Cowl 3 as his major protection, however adjusted his complimentary seems to be to the personnel accessible to him. These alterations shouldn’t be as drastic in 2022, because of the addition of Ryan to the secondary.