Buc, Clemons and dollar linebacker

Posted by Darren Urban on May 20, 2016 – 9:46 am

Deone Bucannon came along at the perfect time two years ago, when Daryl Washington got suspended and the Cardinals wanted someone quicker and rangier to play in the box — as a linebacker — than most linebackers. So they took their first-round pick, a safety, and in two seasons Bucannon has not only done well but has redefined in some ways what it means to be a front-seven defender in this league.

But Bucannon is not an outlier. Not on the Cardinals. As defensive coordinator James Bettcher continues to compose the defense, any question to how the Cards want to line up is underscored not only with Bucannon playing his spot but also because when the Cards go to the second unit, it is safety Chris Clemons who is playing the Bucannon role — not a linebacker by trade.

Clemons, who at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds is a physical match for the 6-1, 220-pound Bucannon, has been around for the past couple of seasons. He was released early in the season after getting hurt, and then returned late with two games left and then played in the postseason.

Where guys are in the offseason isn’t necessarily permanent — if you recall, last offseason, Bucannon played true safety most of the time and Tyrann Mathieu was actually second-string — but again, it goes to how much Bettcher and the Cardinals like their versatility on defense, especially in the secondary. They like safeties who can play corner if needed (Mathieu, Marqui Christian, Tyvon Branch) and they like safeties that can drop into the box. Or in the case of Bucannon, stay in the box.


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20 Responses to “Buc, Clemons and dollar linebacker”

  1. By LadyBird04 on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    Deone Bucannon has been a delight to watch play – whatever position name is given to him. One little suggestion: Deone when your rookie contract expires you will prefer being called a linebacker – they make several million more a year than a safety. Embrace the title “linebacker” as you have embraced the position on the field. It’s only a title, but a title that will land you many more millions in the bank.

    Can’t wait to see him on the field this year with the added weight. How much harder can he tackle now?

  2. By K-Dub on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    A 6-2-3 Defense. A scheme I’d like to see in Pre-Season. 6DBs, 2 OLB, 3DL. Where is the pressure coming from, and who’s dropping into coverage. Interesting.

  3. By Joe C. on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    Was Buc drafted with the intent of playing this linebacker role, or did the situation create the need? Isn’t he the first hybrid to play in the base packages? Thanks.

  4. By Darren Urban on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    Joe C —

    RE: Buc

    The situation created the need.

  5. By clssylssy on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    And, Bucannon has been so successful in his hybrid role that Pete Carroll recently told a reporter that he wanted to remold Brandon Browner into a Deone Bucannon for the Seahawks. Guess Buc made an impression!

  6. By Eric G on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    First there was A-Dub, now there is D-Buc (stops here maybe?) Yeah, I know it would technically be pronounced D-Buke, but don’t care. Love his attitude of going with the flow and the creativity of Bettcher. I can’t wait to see what the D does this year with Jones, Nkemdiche and hopefully a fully healthy Honey Badger.

  7. By John The Draft Guy on May 20, 2016 | Reply


    I’m sorry. I know this is a jerk comment but I have trouble letting certain things go. Again, I am sorry folks.

    When listing a defense, the Dline goes first, then LBs then DBs. So you do not want a 6-2-3, you want a 3-2-6.

    Anyways, I would guess in this defense, you would have Campbell, Gunter, and maybe Nkemdiche as you down 3, your two LBs being Jones and Golden, and then 6 DBs with two of them up in the box.

    Being that the LBs are up on the line, even that defense technically has 5 lineman, 2 LBs , and 4 DBs even if you have DBs playing the LB spots.

    This is why today’s defenses are tough to label. We call the cards a 3-4 defense strickly because of the base defense, but when it is 3rd and long, you will have Jones and Golden put a hand on the ground, and Gunter off, forming a 4 man line. Then Minter comes off replaced with a DB. So you could have Matheu and Bucannon and Clemmons in the box as LBs and technically it would be a 4-3-4, but we know there are two down lineman, two linebackers and 7 DBs.

    This is why teams like the cards like the versatility of players. A guy like ADub would have thrived in this defense. He could do things like Honey Badger, other things like Buc, and other things like Jefferson.
    it is hard to believe ADub could have been better, but at 6’3 and 230 pounds and a 4.4 forty, man, Betchler would have a ball with him. I guess one could dream.

  8. By John The Draft Guy on May 20, 2016 | Reply



    He would be great at covering TEs and backs (like David Johnson and Todd Gurley), That may be the motivation. But is Browner tough enough to stand inside and take on a guard / fullback or some big rbs coming through the hole?

    I’m not sure he is physical enough. Now Kam? that makes more sense.

  9. By mitchaz on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    Darren–aren’t they using Clemons as a backup nickel LB, primarily for cover purposes? It would be pretty hard to imagine Clemons as a WILB in the base defense and a legit factor versus the run.

  10. By Darren Urban on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    Mitchaz —

    RE: Clemons

    I’m sure that’s part of it. But it’s kind of the same thing as Bucannon, no?

  11. By Marlin on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    I hate to ask, but are we burdened with any “dead cap” money re DWash this year?

  12. By Darren Urban on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    Marlin —

    RE: DWash cap

    Yes. A couple million I think.

  13. By Cramsey on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    Buc is looking yoked. He looks like he did some serious time in the weight room this offseason. Kudos to you Buc, love the hard work being put in.

    Anyone else looking cut up compared to last year? Or (hopefully not) flabby? No one wants to see a Haynesworth show up to training camp with such a good thing going this offseason.

  14. By clssylssy on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG…totally agree with you regarding Cam being the better choice. My point was that the Seahawks with their high octane defense are sitting up to take notice of innovative and non-traditional way the Cards are rewriting the book. Browner was a dud in New Orleans, seems to have lost a few steps and may need a lot of talent around him to look like he can still contribute…I don’t think he’ll pull it off but imitation is suppose to be the sincerest form of flattery, lol😉

  15. By georgiebird on May 20, 2016 | Reply

    Unfortunately, the drubbing the Cards defense took in the NFC championship game put a damper on just how effective the Cards defense was last year. Thus, the need to acquire defensive players in the draft and prior.
    So, yes, Buc has redefined the ILB position but the overall effectiveness of a 210 in the middle is still a debatable point.
    Also, I realize the NFC game was an offensive as well as a defensive disappointment.

  16. By Cole on May 21, 2016 | Reply

    When is Washingtons suspension up? And will he be utilized like he was prior to the suspension?

  17. By Darren Urban on May 22, 2016 | Reply

    Cole —

    RE: DWash

    To repeat: His suspension was indefinite. Must apply to be reinstated.

  18. By Joe C. on May 22, 2016 | Reply

    Daryl Washington numbers–This year in 2016 it will cost the Cards $3.5M in cap space to cut DWash rather then do nothing. Keep him, $2.1M, cut him $5.5M in cap space. So if they cut him all obligations flow to 2016 for cap purposes. If they cut him in 2017, after this season, they save $5.75M in cap space. If they keep him in 2017 he counts as $7.5M in cap space cut him there is $2M in dead money. But in 2016 there is more dead money then salary. In 2018 he is gone either way. So zero impact in 2018. So next year is the last year to ask Darren questions about Dwash. All numbers from overthecap.

  19. By Rick Chancellor on May 24, 2016 | Reply

    I can’t wait until this guy is out of here. What a disappointment after he played so well. Is he even in shape or did he turn into a couch potato ?

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