• IDP Defensive Coordinator Changes for 2022

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    What impacts do changes to defensive staff have on some favorite IDP stars? Let's analyze defensive coordinator and scheme changes, and see their impact.


    Defensive Coordinator Changes

    There are 12 new defensive coordinators to start the 2022 season. The Bears, Broncos, Buccaneers, Colts, Giants, Jaguars, Raiders, Ravens, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, and Vikings all have new defensive coordinators, but not all will be implementing new schemes.

    We have broken these changes into four categories: Major, Intermediate, Minor, and No Change. Even though the Detroit Lions did not change defensive coordinators, we will include them in our analysis since they will be changing their base defense in the current year.

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    Before we get into the team-by-team changes, I think it is important to note that almost all NFL teams have stopped using their base defense as their primary defensive scheme. Over the last several years, most teams have switched over to using the nickel defense (4-2-5) as their primary defensive formation.

    At this point, it may be outdated to think of teams as being either 4-3 or 3-4, but determining their base defense is still helpful in analyzing their overall philosophy and personnel groupings.

    NFL Teams with Major Change on Defense

    Chicago Bears

    Alan Williams

    Williams came over with new head coach Matt Eberflus, the Colts DC from 2018-2021. Williams replaces Sean Desai who served for one year under Matt Nagy. The Bears will be transitioning their base defense from 3-4 to 4-3. In 2021, Eberflus used both Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke as every-down linebackers.

    For the Bears, I expect these roles to be filled by Roquan Smith and Nicholas Morrow. Jaquan Brisker should be able to put up decent fantasy numbers in year one, and he is in my top three dynasty rookie safeties. I envision Brisker will be utilized in a Khari Willis-type role under Matt Ebeflus.

    Player to Target: Nicholas Morrow, LB, Chicago Bears

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    Las Vegas Raiders

    Patrick Graham

    Graham replaces Gus Bradley with the Raiders.  Graham spent the last two seasons with the New York Giants and used the 3-4 as the base defense, while Bradley used a 4-3 base defense. Denzel Perryman appears to be in the lead for the top linebacker spot, while Jayon Brown and Divine Deablo battle it out for the second spot.

    Deablo has enormous upside as a converted safety that can play both in the middle and outside, but he will have to stay healthy to have a chance at decent playing time and production in 2022. I am expecting a drop in production from Jonathan Abram (DB) in the new scheme, but his ADP is reasonable for the 2022 projected stats.

    Player to Avoid: Jayon Brown, LB, Las Vegas Raiders

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    Minnesota Vikings

    Ed Donatell

    Donatell replaces Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson with the Vikings.  Donatell was the DC for the Broncos for the last three years and worked under Vic Fangio.  The Vikings will be switching their base defense from 4-3 to 3-4.  I am expecting Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks to work the middle while Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter work the outside.

    I think it will be hard for Kendricks to replicate his prior year's production in this new scheme.  Brian Asamoah was drafted in the third round and is waiting in the wings at inside linebacker.  Safety Lewis Cine was drafted in the first round and is expected to slot right into a starting spot next to Harrison Smith.

    Player to Avoid: Danielle Hunter, LB, Minnesota Vikings (Note: positional change to LB in MFL)

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    Detroit Lions

    Aaron Glenn

    Aaron Glenn returns for a second year in Detroit under head coach Dan Campbell, but they will be changing the base defense from 3-4 to 4-3. To help with this transition, the Lions drafted Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall pick in the 2022 Draft.

    I expect he will immediately be a productive member of this defense and should be targeted in rookie drafts. Right now, it looks like Alex Anzalone and Chris Board are in the lead for the first team, but neither player has performed that well in the past.

    Player to Target: Aidan Hutchinson, Defensive End, Detroit Lions

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    NFL Teams with Intermediate Change on Defense

    New York Giants

    Don “Wink” Martindale

    Martindale, who spent the last 11 seasons in Baltimore, replaces Patrick Graham, who now serves as the DC for the Raiders. Martindale is one of the best in the business at disguising his defense and creating confusion about where pressure will come from each play. I expect he will implement a blitz-heavy defense, but I think the sack count will be split across all personnel.

    If Blake Martinez stays healthy, I anticipate he will have a very productive season since Martindale likes to utilize a lot of one-linebacker formations. In the secondary, Adoree’ Jackson will be relied on heavily to play a lot of man-to-man against the opposing team's best wide receiver. As a result, he could be a sneaky IDP target in leagues that require cornerbacks in the starting lineup.

     

    NFL Teams with Minor Change on Defense

    Baltimore Ravens

    Mike Macdonald

    Macdonald replaces Don “Wink” Martindale to run the defense in Baltimore. Macdonald spent 2021 as DC at Michigan but was previously with Baltimore from 2014-2020. I don’t anticipate major scheme changes but would expect to see an increase in three safety looks with the addition of Kyle Hamilton.

    It will be interesting to see what kind of role Chuck Clark will have in 2022. Clark wore the “green dot” in 2021, but the Ravens have added Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams in the draft and free agency. My current projections for Baltimore do not include an every-down inside linebacker. Hamilton is the number one rookie defensive back.

    Denver Broncos

    Ejiro Evero

    Evero replaces Ed Donatell, who left to join the Vikings as their DC. Evero has been working with the secondary for the Rams for the last five years. I expect he will run a very similar 3-4 base defense and 4-2-5 nickel since Evero is part of ex-Broncos coach Vic Fangio’s coaching tree. Evero has indicated a willingness to bring pressure on the quarterback, so there may be an increase in the number of blitzes in 2022.

    Indianapolis Colts

    Gus Bradley

    Bradley replaces Matt Eberflus, who took the head coaching job in Chicago. Bradley was the DC in Las Vegas in 2021, but he is probably best known for his days as defensive coordinator in Seattle. Even though the base scheme will be similar to what the Colts used in 2021, I expect an impact on several players since Gus Bradley calls a lot of cover-3.

    In 2021, the Colts played both Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke close to 100% of the time. I expect Okereke’s playing time to decrease to about 80%, but I am not yet putting Okereke on the trade market.  I think Okereke will still be productive with his snaps, and there are some lingering injury concerns with Leonard.

    Khari Willis recently retired, so the strong safety spot is wide open. Whoever wins the competition for the starting spot should see a very productive role since Gus Bradley is one of the few DCs who still uses the strong safety in a traditional “box” role. The Colts drafted Nick Cross in the 3rd round, and he has a decent chance of taking over this role immediately.

    Player to Target: Nick Cross, Safety, Indianapolis Colts

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    Jacksonville Jaguars

    Mike Caldwell

    Caldwell takes over for Joe Cullen, who only lasted for one season in Jacksonville. Caldwell comes from the Todd Bowles coaching tree and ran 3-4 base defense as a linebackers coach in Tampa. I expect he will implement more nickel packages than the Jaguars played in 2021.

    I am also expecting to see Foyesade Oluokun and Devin Lloyd as the primary linebackers. Those hoping to see Chad Muma play a decent role immediately will have to be patient.

    Seattle Seahawks

    Clint Hurtt

    Ken Norton was fired from the Seahawks at the end of the 2021 season and was replaced with Clint Hurtt. Hurtt previously served as the defensive line coach for the Seahawks. There is some uncertainty in what exactly Hurtt’s defense will look like, but I expect he will continue to disguise his defense with multiple fronts and utilize Darrell Taylor in the "LEO" position.

    Even though the Seahawks may show a lot of two high safety looks, Jamal Adams will encourage the coaching staff to get his fair share of blitzes. With the departure of Bobby Wagner, I expect a sizeable role for Cody Barton this year, as he starts next to Jordyn Brooks.

    Player to Target: Cody Barton, LB, Seattle Seahawks

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    NFL Teams with No Change on Defense

    New Orleans Saints

    Ryan Nielsen / Kris Richard

    Nielsen and Richard will share the defensive coordinator role and succeed Dennis Allen, who was promoted to Head Coach. As a result, I do not expect any material changes for the current year.

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Teryl Austin

    Keith Butler retired after seven years of serving as the defensive coordinator for the Steelers.  Teryl Austin will assume the DC role for 2022.  Austin previously served as a defensive assistant in Pittsburgh from 2019-2021, so I do not expect much in the way of scheme changes.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Kacy Rodgers / Larry Foote

    Rodgers and Foote will share the defensive coordinator role and succeed Todd Bowles, who was promoted to Head Coach.  Todd Bowles is still expected to call defensive plays, though.


    Thank you for reading!  Follow me on Twitter at @MasterIDP. Please subscribe toIDPGuys.org for all your fantasy football needs and check out our customizable IDP scoring tool. 

    Leo (@MasterIDP)

    Leo joined IDP Guys as a writer and ranker on June 30, 2022. He is passionate about IDP and helping you win your fantasy leagues. Leo has been competing in IDP since 2013 in the Brooklyn Fantasy Football League (Ohio league established in 1991)

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