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October 11, 2011 @ 11:45 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs Throw Away Blueprint, Get Stripped Of Manhood

Written by Chidi
Chidi Ahanotu


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Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Chidi Ahanotu discusses Tampa Bay's crushing, 48-3 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers – a loss that saw the Buccaneers get away from what worked in their 3-1 start and possibly stripped the team of its manhood.

This one was just flat out embarrassing. But saying that is way too easy in assessing the 48-3 beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on Sunday in San Francisco. This is what happens when you try to do too much. This is what happens when you throw away the blue print. This is what happens when you try to force things.

I’m thinking the Bucs upper management decided that the way they were winning was not enough. No. It was not satisfactory to simply win by running the ball, or dumping off the ball to running backs or quarterbacks scrambling all when the wide receivers are incapable of getting open all season.

No. We are going to throw the ball to the wide receivers whether they are going to get open or not! They did not get open.

But Josh Freeman did force the ball in over and over and over again. He was picked of twice and had at least three other potential picks dropped by 49ers defensive backs.

Instead of what Freeman has usually been doing, which is dumping the ball off or scrambling when his skillfully challenged wide receivers were stuck in their coverages, he forced the issue to prove that the Bucs can indeed have a true passing game.

Now I am just guessing, but it seemed rather odd that a usual sound and good decision maker like Freeman took so many risks and forced the ball into double coverages and tight coverages throughout the game – all while looking directly at the guy he intended to throw to the entire play. This was ugly.

The San Francisco 49ers defensive backs teed off on the Bucs wide receivers, culminating in two interceptions, a ton of passes defended, and a grab bag of blow-up hits by the safeties against the Bucs’ poor wide receivers – one of which forced a fumble. 

Time and again I saw the defensive backs speeding to the intended receiver as soon as Freeman even flinched his arm to throw. When the QB looks at the receiver he intends to throw to the entire play defensive backs can do this. Poor Mike Williams learned this the hard way in the fourth quarter on a play where he coughed up the ball after an exploding hit by safety Dashon Goldson.

But this was not just an offense that decided what they were doing just was not good enough for them and threw out the game plan. This was also about a defense that simply got trampled over. 

I mean we could say that Tampa Bay usually falls apart in the West Coast Time zone. But it’s not that simple. There is no curse. There is no bad mojo. There is no whammy. After all, the Bucs shut out the 49ers last year at Candlestick Park, 21-0.

There is just X’s and O’s and game plans and coaching. And the Bucs got out-everythinged on Sunday.

Everyone throughout the football world by now knows that the Achilles heel of the Bucs’ vaunted legendary defense has traditionally been running the ball right down its throat. On a defense that puts a premium on speed and quickness rather than size and strength, power runs are the kryptonite to these Bucs, who thus far this season had not allowed any running backs to achieve 100 yards against them. 

When I was a San Francisco 49er in 2003, head coach Dennis Erickson called me up to his office the week we had to play the reigning 2002 Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers. When I got up there to his office, Erickson asked me if there was any tips I could give to help our 49er team to beat the legendary Tampa Two defense and the dreaded defensive line of the Bucs.

After my initial feelings of being a traitor to my former team, the Bucs, by aiding the 49ers this way, those feelings soon diminished and the competitor in me won out. I wanted to win. So I simply told head coach Erickson, “run the ball right down their throats.”

And that is exactly what us 49ers did. Garrison Hearst had 117 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and Kevan Barlow had 75 yards on 15 carries as they ran the ball right down the gullet of the Tampa defense with booming, head-on power blocks and crushing lead blocks the entire game. Sunday looked like a page from that game plan that I gave the 49ers in 2003. The Bucs were simply beaten up.

Against head-on blocks coming straight at you and sweeping run plays to counter balance the power run game, a defense is forced to physically take on blocks and shed blocks to make the play. In a gap-oriented defense that is taught to focus on penetrating those gaps, a bashing like we witnessed Sunday is a likely result when faced by an offense that is committed to running the ball straight ahead the way the 49ers did Sunday.

While Tampa Bay’s defensive linemen and linebackers are penetrating forward in their gaps, the opposing offense is busy firing out forward too, and putting man-on-man, crushing blocks on those defenders in the gaps.

No, it is not simply enough to get in your gap against an offensive attack like this. You must physically blow up your blocker and then go to your gap. This is an adjustment that was not made even at halftime by the Buccaneers.

But alas, even if they made the adjustment, I am not too confident that these Bucs are big or strong enough to take on blockers in this fashion. Sure, up front Tampa Bay definitely could with the likes of Frank Okam and Brian Price, but our second and third line of defense, especially the linebackers, is simply not stout enough to play this type of football for four quarters.

Watching this carnage for four quarters took a toll on me. I almost decided to close up my cigar lounge early because I was so ashamed and frustrated at the way my Bucs played.

Becuase when it comes down to it, football ends up being about pride and manhood. Before the game started, I was having brunch at Cracker Barrel with my three sons after church and the topic of manhood came up. My middle son, Mayan Ahanotu, and I had a father-son talk in between pancakes and turkey sausage. During that talk I told my 11-year old that this moment in his life is when it starts that a man has to make decisions which are based solely on his manhood.

I know I probably had this talk a bit premature in my son’s life but I like to think that the sooner my kids know what it is a “man” is all about the better. My son answered, “Daddy…what is manhood?”

A bit defeated and deflated at the fact that my 11-year old had no idea what manhood is, I regrouped myself and stated to him these things:

1. Manhood is your fiber of who and what you are
2. Manhood is your foundation and your core
3. Manhood is what you stand for

Without your manhood and God, guess what you have left? My son answered, “Nothing. You have nothing left.”

Let’s hope and pray this West Coast beating didn’t take all the manhood out these young, impressionable Bucs and leave them with nothing left for the rest of this season. A beating like this can do that – it can crush confidence, kill momentum, and dash hopes and dreams.  And what’s left is God and prayers. God help the Bucs.

Chidi Ahanotu was an NFL defensive end for 12 seasons, including eight with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-2000). Ahanotu is the fifth all-time leading sacker in Buccaneers history with 34.5 QB captures. His career-high 10 sacks in 1997 helped the Bucs make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years and led to him being Tampa Bay's franchise player in 1998.

Aside from being a columnist for PewterReport.com, Ahanotu is the owner of Cigars of Soho, which is located at 212 S. Armenia Ave. in Tampa, Fla. To visit the Cigars of Soho Facebook page, click here. Cigars of Soho is open until midnight every night.

Cigars of Soho is the only South Tampa cigar lounge open after dinner to enjoy a nice cigar. Wednesday night is poker night at 9:00 p.m., and the lounge has NFL games on high definition TV on Sunday and Monday nights.

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 10:33

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  • avatar

    49er TE Vernon Davis said in his interview after the game the Bucs gave up and even he was trying to inspire the Bucs to play harder by telling Ronde Barber to not quit and get his guys going to play harder.....This my friends, is what they call losing your manhood. When the other team calls you a quitter. Then to make matters worse the other teams star player is doing the motivating on the field for the Bucs and not our own players! I am a Buccaneer...I bleed pewter....this one was flat out manhood check. And for those who post that football doesn't make manhood......I have zero to say to because you just don't get it and never will.
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    It's more that if you don't think football makes manhood, you shouldn't be playing football. Excellent article. I wish Raheem would just call Ronde on a ton of blitzes so he could set the sack record and retire.
  • avatar

    The Bucs do need to go back to smashmouth football. I think Josh Freeman is the most important player on the roster, but LeGarrette Blount sure is close. Without Blout our running game was not good. I really like EG and his story is a terrific one. But EG looks old to me, and unless he turns the clock back the Bucs are in for another long day on Sunday against the Saints who always seem to win in Tampa. And we, for some reason, have their number in the Superdome. Please Tampa, sellout and be loud like the fans in Detroit were on Monday.
  • avatar

    Great article Chidi. I'm not sure I agree with the statement that their manhood was stripped. They gave it away. I can't remember the last time I witnessed ANY team throw a temper-tantrum like they did last Sunday. They got their lunch handed to them fair and square. Instead of holding their head high and playing their game, they gave in like a child that didn't get a lollipop. EX: Unsportsmanlike on Ra? Talib throwing a fit on every gain? Leaping? The icing on the cake was catching a fair caught ball?!? I'm a Bucs fan to the core but I was truly embarrassed by their actions on the field last week. CMon guys, we lost like this before and made it to the NFC championship. Pick up your head and lets take our manhood back!
  • avatar

    I really like your insight Chidi. I learned a long time ago that one horrendous defeat or one blowout win does not make a season. It just tends to exaggerate the fan's perspective until everything falls back to normalcy. We know this young team is not bound for a Championship this season, but it's not in the running to be on the clock for the 2012 Draft either. They got behind in the game and mentally were defeated by the ultra confident 49ers before the physical beating followed. The disappointing part was how we never hit back (legally). It was like the bully picking on an easy target until he says "enough" and gets in at least one good shot to get the bully's attention. If nothing else, I think this week the youngsters will show some fight and at least try to take it to the Saints. Hopefully we'll have some early success to build on.
  • avatar

    I know exactly when they gave up. I noticed, said it out loud and stopped watching. It was when Foster changed the momentum by recovering the fumble to give it back to our offense who was supposed to take the ball and the momentum and score. Instead the offense gave it right back which took the wind and the fight right out of the defense putting them back on the field. They were defeated right there.
  • avatar

    Chidi, great article. You said everything I felt and then some. Coming from a former professional, I truly respect your candid response. I have been a big time Buc fan for a while and this loss happens to the best but the "manhood" statement is exactly what needed to be stated. Losing is one thing but quitting is another and the entire franchise quit Sunday. That is why I said on another unreliable site that just posts any and everything that this loss could haunt this team for a long time. These players have no skins on the wall and have no identity to resort to. Tell me that Raheem is doing such a great job but this team has no counter punch in their scheme and as a fan that spend money on the team I am disgusted. I don't see the fans buying into this team for a while because it's the lack of presentation and evolution that makes people not believe this franchise is not serious. No veterans that is quality or leaders, no thump, no speed, just nothing to sale tickets is going to leave RJS empty for years to come. When they get serious about winning and the owners start putting money back into this team with bonified players then people will comeback. Until, C-rated franchise and team on a national scale. I'm ok with it but it's sad for the hall of famers that poured their heart and soul into this franchise.
  • avatar

    Puleeeeze! Are you crapping me? Our team simply got the poop knocked out of them by another team that was better that day, more ready to play and fueled by Buc nonsense starting with an Illegal Shift penalty on the second play with wood thrown on the fire by interceptions, etc, the rest of the game! Keep that Kumbaya stuff to yourself! This is football and the baddest arses of the day win! Period! Sheeesh, next thing you know we'll be heading to One Buc for a meditation experience and sandle painting ... Go Bucs! Get revenge on somebody!
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    Gosh, I agree with all the comments. I get what you are trying to say to your ,Chidi; good luck with that Manhood definition. I probaby would have said it differently, but it's your Article. GBucs!
  • avatar

    I am not sure how I feel about your definition of manhood. Of course, I am a woman and I would never tell my son stuff like that. Maybe its a guy thing. My father said that all you had was your name and once you lost your reputation you had nothing left. But that was the 50s. In terms of the Bucs, I don't think they gave up at all. They were simply out dueled on every possible level. Yes. They were owned. And I hope the entire organization DOES NOT put it behind them. Whether its free agents we should have had, different players ( maybe completely healthy ones to begin with) more flexibility in THE plan, more misleading offensive plays ( even I know the first 10 plays and that's saying something), confront our aversion to super players, etc. etc. etc. There's plenty of constructive looking inside that needs to be done. I think in general Dom, his staff and Rah have done a good job drafting. However, they need to decide whether they want to continue being the Sam's Club of franchises. Buying damaged goods at a deep discount may have a good outcome once in awhile but as a rule, you get what you pay for. If the Bucs' self image is smash mouth football we have some good players who can deliver that including the QB. But we don't have the right players and/or the right healthy skill people in position yet. After that, our coaching both defense and offense is in question. It doesn't appear that the team is properly prepared. Or they are keeping it too simple because they are too young. Or or or....Doesn't it feel like the Bucs' coaches are a rather isolated lot? Both Olsen and Rah are Bucs new projects. I think it shows in the game planning or lack of depth thereof. Starting to ramble, sorry....watching the Bucs deconstruct does that to people.
  • avatar

    They got stripped of their manhood? What, was there a mass Bucs wedding last weekend?
  • avatar

    Chidi is dead on, unfortunately. Someone at One Buc is making a huge mistake by trying to force this offense to be something they are not. Whether it's management meddling in the game plan, or it's the coaches getting too fancy and operating without enough oversight from management, this needs to change. Now. On the defensive side we've known all along that besides Foster and maybe Watson our LB corps was deficient, and that our d-line up the middle is vulnerable especially when McCoy is not in the game. Against power running teams this defense is going to suffer all year long. No doubt about it. Now that TJax is back maybe we can stack the box a bit and hope for the best with our DE's and DB's doing what they need to. Sticking to the core identity of this team's philosophy is more important now than ever. Stop playing around with ideas and get back to basics!
  • avatar

    Tanyard Jackson has just been reinstated!! He won't count against the roster for three weeks, I believe.
  • avatar

    Yeah, just read about that. I love him on the field but I know he can't be counted on for the long haul so I say ride that horse till he drops but have another horse to jump on when he does.
  • avatar

    They also plucked a LB off the Jags practic squad onto the active roster. I think they could be a little disappointed with what they are putting on the field.
  • avatar

    Like I said before we played a mans game with a bunch of boys!
  • avatar

    Earlier in the season, Olson said that Freeman needed to trust his WRs when they had 1-on-1s and to just throw it in there. Now, that it isn't working, Olson says Freeman needs to make better decisions and be more careful with the ball.
  • avatar

    Before we jump on Chidi, for being blount. (no pun intended) The point he was making is that you are a man first and a football player second. As a person that lives by the cardinal principle of manhood, this should reflect on the prideful way that you approach the game of football. Case in point, the comment made by San Fran TE Vernon Davis. He stated, "They just gave up" this implies that the "fight or flight" theory was in effect, and we choose to run like hell. It's okay to get your arsh whooped. Anyone that fights enough will eventually take an arsh whooping. To finish the fight with pride, to the end, is what gains respect. Take Mike Tyson's ear bitting, as an example of a "check out" move. I respectfully, disagree with Coach Morris statement "After watching the tape we finished the game strong" When players like Winslow, is trying to fight after making a catch, Talib (overrated) talks smack while getting beat, dropping interceptions, whiffing tackles, does not show much hunger. Where is the on field leadership, men? These are classic examples of not bringing your "A" game. In closing, overcoming circumstances and perserverance are also traits of manhood. I believe that the Bucs, will eventually look in the mirror and discipline themselve to prove all of the critics wrong. Myself, included. Go Bucs, Roo!
  • avatar

    Yes, a little dramatic for my tastes, but the point is sound. The team needs to re-group and re-focus in order to have a chance against a superior Saints team coming to town. Can Freeman learn to look off DB's in a week...?
  • avatar

    Very well stated Chidi, and I sincerely doubt that your very honest criticism of the Bucs, and especially of our 3rd year QB that is currently playing like a rookie again, will be met with hostility. I mean come on, the jabronies at Joe Buc just cost the team a quarter of a million dollars for reporting phone calls that I would have made myself had I been the head coach. I don't understand why Freeman is not playing the brand of football he patented last season. After 3 seconds last season, he was on the move; either to make a first down with his legs or buying time for a reciever to get open. It's almost like he is trying to force himself to be a pocket passer. The irony about all this is the fact that such future hall of famers such as Brady and Manning, for all their success, probably look at Freeman's God given ability to scramble and run and think to themselves, "Man, if I had that skill set I'd never lose." Certainly if Brady had Freeman's physical skills, The Patriots would be the new standard of perfection 19-0. And Peyton would certianly have more than just one ring. Freeman needs to remember who he is and the style of play that he made a science last year that actually won games. I hate to say this but so far, Freeman has reminded me of Vinny Testeverde!!!! I really really hate saying that, but that's on him.
  • avatar

    A very controversial headline, one that will not make him friends at 1Buc. I doubt the Bucs have been turned into the "Village People" just because of one horrific game, but we will see this week. I admit that I was not "man enough" to watch the second half, it was just too demeaning. Here is another headline: "Bucs make Chidi a 'persona non grata', gets stripped of his press credentials" That is the way of the Bucs...they do hold grudges against individuals in the media when they deem they have been treated unfairly.
  • avatar

    That's one thing I noticed was that Freeman was staring down his receivers for most of the game. I saw it in training camp but thought it was just training camp I doubt he would do it in a game. Nope! The one play where he tried to throw to Mike on the slant, he was staring at him even before the snap. I'm thinking that can't be the receiver that he intents to throw because the corner is looking right at Freeman. When the ball is snapped the corner (who has solid coverage) is already jumping the route before the receiver breaks for the slant, and then he still throws the ball right to him and the corner knocks it down!!!! Are you kidding me Freeman?!?!?
  • avatar

    A little melodramatic here aren't we?? We got the livin' crap kicked out of us by New England in the pre-season. I would venture to say if the Pat's had continued the onslaught it would have been 48-3 at halftime. We managed to recoup from that and we'll do the same here. A loss is a loss. I think it will do nothing but fire up these players to get back the respect. These are men you're talking about here and they'll find a way to get it done. I don't see us rebounding against the Saints because they always play us tough in Tampa but we seem to find a way to beat them in their house. If we don't have Blount or McCoy I think it causes one problem but beyond that, we have issues in our secondary and have had all year. Drew Brees will exploit that weakness. Our offense would have to start fast and our defense would have to play lights out. Not saying it can't happen but I'm not looking for it. I AM looking for a much more competitive game and I think you will see some angry Bucs playing a VERY physical game on Sunday. Football doesn't make a man Chidi. If you think it does then there is no wonder so many ex-athletes suffer from depression once they leave the game. You had it partially right above but when you described your manhood you should have said "Your manhood IS God". Without Him you are nothing.
  • avatar

    I agree with alot of what has been said,now rewind a few weeks and as i wrote after week one Q black is Bad,Free needs to move, he has trouble pulling the trigger and most of his big plays are after a breakdown and he extends the play much like Big ben.Now who signed q black, who has stuck Free in the pocket,who didnt sign bush or sproles who we clearly needed,who continues to make friends with his players(winslow and talib embarassing)and talks about being accountable yet holds nobody accountable. Rahs lack of control of his players has probably already cost him his job.McCoy will be injured his entire career because if he gets locked up he gets stood straight up and man handled and if you spend much time doing that in the nfl you will be injured often, very quick but plays very high and very weak . btw we are paying black more than r bush REALLY! This was not Dom this was Rahs personel lust with Q Black. Why is Talib, since detroit never never on the opposing top receiver? Why are our receivers and t ends not breaking off any routes and running right into coverage? Winslow! LB knows the exact route plays heavy inside leverage nobody within ten yards outside and still runs inside route time and time again, your QB and receivers have got to make simple and obvious reads and adjustments none none none here, that jumped bubble on Sun was so clear m williams should have been thrown to for a big play but he nor free read and reacted to a db creeping way before the snap easy easy read. Free has had some of the best protection in the entire nfl and our preset offense cant do anything with it , free has to move around and breakdown the D period !! Back to the Roll Out Ollie back to the Roll Out Please!! O line B plus Great Job! D line B, good penetration LB can't fill gaps even when RB is redirected only guy on D capable of filling a gap is now on IR
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