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Jim Caldwell has always been a ‘promote from within’ kind of guy and indeed, the hiring of Austin in the first place could be viewed as such since they were together several times before. Bill Sheridan is presently the Detroit Lions linebackers coach, but he has previous experience with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he was their defensive coordinator for 2013.
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The 2013 Buccaneers were one of the worst defenses in the NFL in the first half of the season, despite big name stars like Darrelle Revis, Gerald McCoy, and LaVonte David. At the season’s midpoint, at 0-8, Sheridan made adjustments to the defense that somehow made the Bucs one of the top defenses for the second half of 2013.
They fought the Super Bowl Champions into overtime, defeated the Detroit Lions, and posted a 4-4 record in the final half of the season. Unfortunately, they would end on a sour note with double digit losses in the final three weeks. This was part of the reason Sheridan found his way to Detroit.
Sheridan runs a mainly traditional Cover 2 type defense. Like Austin, the defense relies on the pressure created by the front 4, but unlike Austin there is little creative pressure in the scheme. It’s a conservative defense that forces opposing offenses to beat their guy, primarily zone based, with some amount of emphasis on the middle of the field. Likely, the vulnerability in the middle of the field that Austin showed would be fixed, but issues on the outside and especially against top tier QBs will be evident quickly.
Next: An old, familiar face