Freeney and Mathis in the hybrid

Football Outsiders took a look at other hybrid 3-4 defenses and their use of outside linebackers and come to the conclusion that things may not be so different from years past:

One of the first things that jumped out at me after reviewing these plays is the versatility of Pagano’s defense. Unlike the rigid and predictable Tampa-2 scheme, which was totally dependent on execution, this scheme can attack the quarterback from any direction, through any gap, at any time.

The Ravens’ version in 2011 was a gambling man’s defense and, at times, Pagano gambled wrong. Yet, the team finished with the best passing defense in the league by DVOA. Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky might not have the same risk-taking leeway with the Colts though, at least until the team has more experience and more talent.

If Freeney is designated as the Suggs of the Colts’ defense, then his transition shouldn’t be extremely difficult. Rushing the passer is Freeney’s expertise. Suggs rushed the passer in 17 of the 18 plays that I reviewed, and 13 of those 18 times it was from the right defensive end position, which is Freeney’s natural position.