At this point in Jon Bostic's eight-year career, the veteran linebacker has seen it all.
Bostic, who re-signed with Washington this offseason, has been with five teams and played in a slew of defensive systems. He's been successful in most of them, although none of his past seasons were as productive as last year (105 tackles, a sack and an interception).
There are still some surprises for Bostic -- going through a virtual offseason during a pandemic certainly counted as one -- but Washington's new 4-3 defense hasn't been one of them.
"It's kind of crazy when you really look at it," Bostic said. "I've played in this same defense before in Chicago. It's a little bit of the stuff that we used to run in Florida."
If Bostic's experience with Chicago is any indication of how he will play in defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's scheme, then it looks like Bostic is set for another solid year. A second-round pick by the team in 2013, Bostic recorded 139 tackles, a pair of sacks, four pass breakups and an interception in two seasons with the Bears. His 84 tackles in 2014 were second on the team and third-most of his career.
It's worth noting that Bostic has proven on multiple occasions that he can produce regardless of the system he's in. After spending one year with New England, which also ran a 4-3 defense, in 2015, Bostic played in 3-4 schemes with Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Washington.
In those three seasons, Bostic put forth some of his best statistics. After spending a year on Injured Reserve with Detroit, he recorded 97 tackles and two quarterback hits with the Colts. Two years later, he quickly established himself as a leader on Washington's defense and ranked second on the team in tackles.
Football is football, Bostic said, no matter the scheme. And in his experience, defenses are in sub-packages most of the time anyway. To him, the biggest change for Washington will be in players' base alignments.
"Instead of having your big guys standing up, dropping in space, trying to cover, read this and read that, it allows them to get after the quarterback," he said. "Go and try to penetrate, get upfield, cause disruption."
Bostic believes a new scheme "is only going to help" a unit that ranked 27th in total defense and 31st against the run last season. It also doesn't hurt that Del Rio, who has coached several top five defenses over the years, is in charge of instituting that scheme. Bostic said he has heard "nothing but good things" from players who were with Del Rio in Jacksonville and Denver, and that was backed up by the conversation he had after Del Rio was hired.
"I think he's going to do a lot for this defense. We have a good group," Bostic said. "I think the defense is going to fit a lot of guys a lot better. He's going to...let that front four get after the quarterback."
The added wrinkle of learning the defense virtually did not bother Bostic, either. He's the type of person who can adapt to any learning method, but he acknowledged others may react to the challenge differently. While some might learn better by physically walking through the plays, learning in virtual classroom sessions could help others focus.
Either way, the main priority is taking the information and applying it once training camp begins.
"We've just kind of got to take it day-by-day," Bostic said. "Take care of our bodies and stay in the playbook and keep refreshing that stuff so we don't just turn around and say, 'Hey, Zoom meetings are over. I'll get back to this when we get to training camp.' We've got to review that stuff each and every day."
With the team not meeting up collectively until training camp, Bostic said it has been important for players to "pick up things as soon as we get to the grass."
"They have to understand these concepts and be ready to go. It's not going to be where you have the OTAs and you have the walkthroughs and all that stuff to be able to get up to speed and whatnot. These guys have got to be ready to go."
There has been buzz about what Washington's defense can become with its new coaches and schemes, and there's similar excitement for Bostic and his teammates. No matter what defense they put out on the field, Bostic believes the unit will deliver in 2020.
"We've got a good group and we're not far off, and that's the most important thing. We're excited, I will say that. We're excited."