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November 20, 2012 @ 11:49 am
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Bucs Defense On Record Pace With Tackles For Loss In 2012

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Tampa Bay has the league's top-ranked run defense thanks to 69 tackles for loss this season. Through 10 games, the Bucs already have more tackles for loss than they did a year ago, and are on pace to set a new team record.
The Buccaneers have made an astonishing turnaround when it comes to stopping the run. After finishing dead last in the NFL last year by surrendering 156.1 yards per game, Tampa Bay has gone from worst to first and now leads the league in run defense, allowing teams to rush for just 81.8 yards per carry.

The key to stopping the run in Tampa Bay has been registering tackles for loss, and with 10 more stops behind the line of scrimmage on Sunday in Carolina, the Buccaneers now have 69 TFLs in 2012. To put that accomplishment in perspective, Tampa Bay had just 66 tackles for loss a year ago and there are six games remaining.

“The TFLs are huge,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “When you have those TFLs it gives you a chance to get ahead of the sticks. And that’s what we did [at Carolina].”

The Panthers rushed for just 10 yards on 13 carries in the Bucs’ 16-10 victory in Week 1. While it was more diligent about establishing the run in Sunday’s 27-21 overtime win by Tampa Bay, Carolina only averaged 2.9 yards per carry and didn’t have a rusher reach 50 yards against the Bucs’ stingy defense.

“When you hold someone under three yards a carry per game you’re playing good run defense and we were able to do that against a team that was committed to running the ball. Remember the first game, they ran it a dozen times or 10 or whatever it was. It wasn’t a lot. This time it was clear they were going to try to run it. Our guys did a good job stopping the run and we made enough plays to give us a chance to win.”

Defensive end Michael Bennett led the way last year with nine tackles for loss, followed by linebackers Quincy Black and Geno Hayes, who had eight and seven stops behind the line of scrimmage, respectively. In 2012, the Bucs already have three defenders with double-digit tackles for loss, led by linebacker Lavonte David, who has 13. Middle linebacker Mason Foster, who only had four a year ago, has 11 this season, as does Bennett.

“That’s the key. The whole key is the tackles for loss,” Bennett said. “Our tackles for loss are up higher than every other year. We’re off to a great start.”

Thanks to a new attacking defensive scheme deployed by Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan that stresses gap penetration, the Bucs are on pace to record 110 tackles for loss in 2012, which would be a new team record. Tackles and tackles for loss are not an official NFL statistic, and are kept by the clubs. In 1999 when the Buccaneers defense was second in the NFL, the team only generated 79 tackles for loss, and during the 2002 Super Bowl season in which Tampa Bay had the NFL’s top-ranked unit, the defense generated 88 tackles for loss.

“I really believe in the scheme we have, and if everybody does that and does their job, we have the personnel to make TFLs happen,” said Bucs defensive tackle Roy Miller, who has two tackles for loss this season. “With the scheme and the type of players we have – we have guys that are very athletic and when they move they make people miss – I think the two work real well together.

“Our number one goal is stopping the run. If you can’t stop the run it makes the game a lot harder. If they want to run they can make the play-action passing game work, too.”

Tampa Bay’s defense struggled to rush the passer last year because it couldn’t stop the run, and the team posted just 23 sacks as a result. This year, the Bucs have recorded 17 sacks through 10 games – led by Bennett’s seven – and are on pace to post 27 this year despite losing last year’s leading sacker, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who had 7.5, to a season-ending knee injury in Week 3.

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who has a three sacks and a career-best five tackles for loss in 2012, said that stopping the run has created more pass-rushing opportunities. 

“Our initial philosophy as a defense is to stop the run,” McCoy said. “That’s the first thing on the board when we walk – our philosophy is to stop the run. With all of these dynamic pass rushers we have you can’t rush the passer if you don’t stop the run. That’s limited people’s game plans now with us coming in each week and playing well against the run. It’s making people have to throw the ball. Now we have to come together as a defense and make sure we can defend everything. Initially stopping the run should be any defense’s first goal.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 14:51

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  • avatar

    Atlanta relies heavily on their run...it sets up everything for them. Yes, Matty Ice can throw every down if need be but they would much rather let turner pound it down the field and take their shots. Hopefully, we can throw them off their game. One thing I have noticed is when the Qbs break the pocket or head straight up the field on a broken play they seem to always get 7+ yds and maybe more. That is another area we need to clean up. We seem to always get so close to a sack and then they either throw it for a big completion or get away and throw it away or get the nice run. If we can limit those types of plays it would be huge as well. It might get the D off the field a little more and give the offense some more chances to score.
  • avatar

    When a RB is tackled repeatedly behind the line of scrimmage it demoralizes the entire offense nearly as much as a sack. Don't for a minute think the stellar run defense is a by-product of the poor pass defense. Teams are trying to run but just aren't effective. It's not as if teams are simply choosing to take the easier route through the air. It does seem as if we, as a defensive philosophy, have chosen to focus on stopping the run at the expense of the pass defense. As weak as the talent level has become at CB, they would probably have difficulty defending these receivers even with additional help so we might as well excel at stuffing the run and take our chances on the back end. It really hurt when Clayborn went down in spite of Teo's efforts. Bowers is showing signs that he is improving but he's better suited for the left side. Need a big game from #93 this week.
  • avatar

    81.8 yards per carry!? My first reaction was similar to Horse's. We are doing great getting guys behind the line for run stuffs but aren't necessarily doing so with blitzes which tells me we often have an available man standing around waiting to read and react on run plays. Thinking if we drop that guy back more often then the TFLs will go down but also well yards through the air and most likely get a few more picks. They'll find the balance. Maybe the falcons "season" will help us on that trend as we load up on the pass. They may run quite well on us thus Sunday but who cares if we keep Matty under control. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    the key for the pass D is passrush which the Bucs are just now starting to find some more; players are coming in Bowers; and the bucs are finding other players in Aaron Morgan and even Teo.
  • avatar

    When we start being able to stop the passes down field the TFL's will also go down, but we will then be a better defensive team. I think that Atlanta is a perfectly good example of having a balanced defensive team. Matt Ryan will be more than happy to throw on everydown if need be. I think the key is to pound the ball and keep Ryan off the field. I would like to see a two back offense this Sunday.
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