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November 17, 2011 @ 12:34 pm
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Bucs Getting Back To The Fundementals Of Tackling This Week

Written by Eric
Eric Horchy


Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A thousand reasons have been suggested on why the Buccaneers have now lost four of their last five games. But when talking to coaches and players it seems to boil down to one specific issue: tackling. Tampa Bay will spend two practices in pads this week to try and get back to being more physical.

Whether it’s been a defensive lineman failing to stuff gaps or a linebacker or defensive back unsuccessfully bringing down ball carriers in the second and third levels, an all-around poor tackling effort continued to be cited on this week as what critically ails this Tampa Bay defense.

Defensive end Michael Bennett has been vocal about the issue since sitting at his Raymond James Stadium locker following the 37-9 whipping Tampa Bay endured at the hands of Houston on Sunday.

“I think it’s just tackling, honestly,” Bennett reiterated Wednesday afternoon before the Bucs suited up for a padded practice. “Poor tackling. People are in their gaps, they’re just not tackling. We need to work on that; getting more disciplined and tackling.”

Witnessing and then determining that makeable tackles were missed on certain plays throughout a game is the easy part, though. Figuring out a quick solution to a problem that’s primarily fundamental in nature may not be so black-and-white. To Bennett and other Bucs defenders, changing that negative recurrence starts from within.

“People have been tackling for 20 years,” Bennett said, referring to playing the game since youth. “Tackling’s a want-to. It’s not whether we have pads on [during practice], it’s whether we’re running in there and aren’t afraid to knock somebody out.”

When asked if the Bucs simply haven’t been playing with that desire on Sundays, Bennett just restated his belief that it’s what’s needed now.

“I’m not going to say that. Whatever you interpret what I’m saying is what you want to interpret, but I’m just saying that tackling is a want-to; defense is a want-to. Anytime a defense can control a game – you see these great defenses like the Ravens – they always control the game because of their tempo and aggressiveness. That’s what we need to get.”

Rookie defensive end Da’Quan Bowers cited another intangible – accountability – that the Tampa Bay defense must display amongst itself if it wants to take a turn in the right direction.

“We tackled very poorly against the Texans and it showed,” said rookie defensive end Da’Quan Bowers. “We had a lot of missed tackles and a lot of missed opportunities.

“Hopefully this week in practice we can get it taken care of. I don’t know what the plan is to fix it but everybody’s just got to keep each other accountable in all situations. Our defensive line is going to hold each other accountable. Ronde and Aqib are going to keep those DBs accountable. The linebackers are going to hold each other accountable. Everybody’s dependent on each other to help each other out.”

Aside from exerting a more concerted effort on Sunday’s and showing Bennett’s “want-to” attitude, opportunities to make improvements during the week are running low for the Bucs. Part of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement enacted this summer is a limitation to 14 total padded practices during the season. Of those 14, 11 must be spent by the end of this week.

Along with Wednesday’s practice, the Bucs are suited up in full twice this week. If that’s part of what Tampa Bay needs, Bennett said he doesn’t know, but that he’s willing to do whatever it is the coaching staff decides is best.

“We can just get more banging, I guess. Whatever Coach [Morris] asks us to do we just have to follow it. That’s another thing we need to do is just follow the game plan; continue with it and keep going. We’ve just got to get that mindset, that vicious mindset. That’s what we need to get and coach feels like this practice will help us get that. If he thinks that, I’m not one to argue with him. I’m just going to do what he asks me to do.”

As Houston gashed Tampa Bay for 420 total net yards and the Bucs sank to 29th in the league against the run (138.2 per game) and 28th against the pass (263.0), perhaps the most quickly remembered of the glaring missed stops – both long touchdown receptions – came from members of the secondary in the open field.

Cornerback E.J. Biggers fell in line with Bennett and Bowers with his own assessment, now three days removed.

“Sometimes you just have to get back to the basics,” the third-year defensive back said. “We’ve got to get back to Buc football. That’s the basics. We’re going to go out today, tomorrow and the rest of this week and we’re going to get better. Individually get better and as a team get better.”

Getting better would be optimal with the undefeated defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers and MVP-candidate quarterback Aaron Rodgers up next for Tampa Bay. The Packers are the highest scoring team in the league through 10 weeks (35.6 points) and average 407.9 yards per game.

While Rodgers and his bevy of receiving weapons attract the most attention, the Bucs’ ability to corral running backs James Starks (55.9 rushing yards per game) and Ryan Grant (31.4) remains a critical focus, Bowers said.

“We’ve got to stop the run before we do anything. If we don’t stop they run they’ll gash us for 150-200 yards like teams have been getting all year. It’s hard to win football games like that so we’ve just got to take it one step at a time and focus on stopping the run.

“We haven’t done that all year long and as a defensive line we partly take blame for that,” Bowers continued. “We just want to stop the run and make it a one-way game and try to get them out of their comfort zone; try to rattle Aaron Rodgers a little bit because he’s the key to all their success.”

Last modified on Thursday, 17 November 2011 12:45

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  • avatar

    Pinkstob i respect your faith but I am going the opposite direction. Raheem inability to prepare these player with the details and not hold them accountable for being non-physical is why I don't see them winning and this one may get out of hand. We have too many things going wrong. Our offense is inept and our defense is not playing as a unit. Next year we will see if the coaches grow also but I am losing confidence in them based on the games we have won and loss. two years of inability to score in the first quarter and slow starts tell us all we need to know about the offense. I wish them well but it's not fair to another fair team that plays and coaches the way it should be for me to pick my team as a homer. The Packers play the game the way it should be played. Fast, smart, hard, precise, and uptempo. We will get there but not with these coaches and set of players. Go Bucs in the future.
  • avatar

    I hope these few player's comments are representative of the whole team. At least we have the left DE position covered.
  • avatar

    What is it the new CBA allows? 14 total practices ALL year in pads! No wonder they have forgotten how to tackle.
  • avatar

    I haven't seen this being an issue for all 31 other teams who have the same limit. Goes back to the lack of discipline.
  • avatar

    Before the season started I picked this as a game the Bucs would win. It wasn't due to being naive or arrogant. It's because I've always thought we matched up well with Green Bay on paper. We aren't stopping the run well but the Packers don't run the ball a lot. They've got A. Rodgers but Morris' schemes can confuse even the best QB's which forces turnovers (see Brees over the past few seasons). The Saints won the last game because they played differently on offense. They ran the ball and threw screens from the beginning and caught us off guard. If our DB's and LB's can play more like they did last year than they've been doing this year in coverage we've got a chance of pulling out a win, weather be damned.
  • avatar

    Good luck boy's, you're going to need it.
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