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September 5, 2013 @ 8:32 pm
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Sheridan Says Bucs' Multiple Use Of Stunts Is Effective

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Tampa Bay's run defense went from last in 2011 to first in the NFL last year. Part of the reason was the Bucs use of defensive line stunts, freeing up linebackers to clean up plays. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan explained the purpose of the line stunts that some have questioned the use of at times.
Watching the Buccaneers defense at times last season was beyond frustrating. The inability to get to the quarterback, the poor secondary coverage and the mistimed blitzes were something that caused many a Bucs fan to almost throw the remote through their television set.

But quite possibly the thing that most fans questioned in 2012, and even through the 2013 preseason, was the stunts and twists run by the defensive line.

At times in 2012 the frustration over the stunts boiled over to the linemen themselves, with some even going to the coaches and asking them to let them get up field and use more one-gap responsibility.

While it can be frustrating, the stunts do have a purpose – and can be effective – especially against the run.

PewterReport.com asked Bill Sheridan on Thursday to give a basic overview of why the Bucs run so many stunts and what is the thought process behind them.

“The main thing is you’re trying to get misses in the line of scrimmage from a blocking standpoint,” Sheridan explained on Thursday. “A lot of teams are zone-blocking or man-blocking plays, and when we move our guys horizontally – left to right – off an offensive linemen, you’re hoping you get some misses and penetration at the line of scrimmage.

“For the most part, it’s really called for run downs, especially on first and second downs. We’re doing that with the intention of disrupting the run. The way we do it, because our second level players - even though they have coverage on people - if those guys stay in and block, they end up becoming additional rushers. So a lot of times, especially on first and second down, when those quarterbacks are hanging on to the ball off the play action, we actually end up having additional guys rush in there, you can see that on the film. It’s normally called for a run down.

“Again, we’re trying to disrupt the blocking patterns and – not just be stationary where they know where we’re going to line up and this is how they’re going to block us. We might be moving inside or outside off the different shades we play. But, again, if they hang onto the ball, – the more guys they keep in, a lot of times we get additional rushers coming in.”

It is hard to argue with the effectiveness of Sheridan’s scheme – against the run. Tampa Bay went from last in 2011 to the No. 1 ranked run defense in the NFL in 2012, giving up just 82.5 yards per game.

Some have said the stat is misleading, as the porous secondary caused teams to not bother to run the football. But despite the poor pass coverage, not only were the Bucs best the NFL in giving up the least amount of total per game (82.5) and overall yards allowed on the ground (1,320), they also led the league in least amount of yards per carry at just 3.5.

The problems that sometimes arise with the run stunts is in the NFC – and NFC South in particular – is today’s NFL teams are nearly as likely to throw on first or second down as they are on third down. When the Bucs have a stunt called to defend the run, and Drew Brees or Matt Ryan run play-action and throw on those downs, the Buccaneers can be out of position and get very little pressure on the quarterback.

With an improved secondary, hopes from fans and most likely the coaches, is that the stunts and twists – along with the numerous blitzes – can be scaled back. It didn’t appear to be the case in the preseason, but the Buccaneers secondary was still missing a key component in cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Sunday the season starts for real and the proof will be in the number of stunts dialed up by head coach Greg Schiano and Sheridan.

Last modified on Friday, 06 September 2013 10:47

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  • avatar

    Stunting the D-line has been my biggest gripe, as I've posted many times on this site. Thanks PR for asking the question. I agree with other posters that these EXCESSIVE stunts need to go. 1st, Sheridan says he uses them mostly on "running" downs...apparently trying to justify the Bucs success in limiting other teams' rushing. But, when other teams see that we are using the stunts on "running" downs, don't you think they would start passing on these downs?? Isn't that a big reason why we were 2nd worst in passing defense? 2nd, to follow PR's comments that teams are just as likely to throw on 1st & 2nd downs, how does Sheridan know which are "running" downs??
  • avatar

    Hey Sheridan, here's another idea for you, why don't you have the entire Dline play 5 yds off of the line of scrimmage and then just run full tilt at it on the snap, screaming Buctebow how does my @ss taste. That would be just as effective as stunting on every passing down.
  • avatar

    We should beat the Jets by 14 points. If we don't get an effective pass rush against the Jets; then Schiano has a decision to make about all these ineffective stunts. Thousand one, thousand two, thousand three; the pass is thrown. You're still doing your stunt move and the ball is already gone.
  • avatar

    Thank you MC for asking this question! Excellent work!
  • avatar

    There is nothing Sheridan can tell me that would make his excessive usage of stunts ok. As a fan that watched all the Bucs games last year I honestly cant remember one time where those stunts lead to lineman "breaking free." We have lineman that get off the ball extremely fast and you negate that by having them loop and twist all over the field. We need our DTs splitting the gaps and causing havoc upfield not looping around edges pretending to be DEs. I didnt work last year, what I saw of it in preseason was still ineffective and the idea as a whole should be scrapped unless its seldom used. We play against 3 explosive QBs and he says he runs it on 1st and 2nd downs bc those are :passing downs" wake up and smell the bath salts Sheridan there are no such thing as passing downs in todays NFL. I hope Schiano steps in and limits these unnecessary stunts or we will be complaining about no pass rush again when in all actuality its an awful scheme that doesnt help the players to get the QB. Go Bucs!!!
  • avatar

    If we hadn't finished 29th in overall defense last year then the use of stunts would be justified. I don't care if teams are getting yards against us on the ground or in the air, yards are yards. The explaination in this article comes down to Sherridan and Schiano are trying to confuse the opposing offense's blocking assignments. It was a cute attempt, but if the difference between a good and bad day running is 150 and 85 yards and the difference between a good and bad day of passing is 400 and 185 yards then it's clear to me we need to design the defense to stop the pass!
  • avatar

    @scubog..."not the 76 Bucs"...priceless comment....loved it!
  • avatar

    Oh I just realized by reading all these posts.... The Bucs are the only team in the NFL that stunt or twist thelr lineman and use the zone blitz. Man what a revelation.... thanks everyone for crying about what every other team uses as well.
  • avatar

    Sheridan needs to go!
  • avatar

    The Jets aren't playing the 76 Bucs, 76Buc. You really think Geno Smith can light us up for 35 points in his first game? Some of our fans are just so reluctant to have any positive hopes or expectations for fear of disappointment. I guess it's why the kid in high school, in fear of rejection, doesn't ask the pretty cheerleader out for a date and uses the excuse that she's too stuck up for his taste.
  • avatar

    You nailed me on that one scubug:) No I don't think Geno will light up the D (although over the years I have seen our D make rookies look like Johnny U), but I do think several TO's on the Bucs side of the field could allow the Jets some easy TD's or defensive and ST touchdowns. Actually, I believe the Bucs have a reasiltic chance of winning this game if they pressure Smith and Freeman plays within himself. The problem is I havn't seen it thus far. OBTW, you're correct, I was too shy to ask the cheerleaders out. But I started doing it 5 years later. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    I'm not a fan of all the stunting, although it's good to give the D different looks. I won't call this Sheridan's defense however. You can bet Schiano has got his fingerprints all over everything that goes on with this football team.
  • avatar

    I saw the interview earlier today; good interview. Sheridan's D stuffed the run last year. Maybe Trevor Scott's shown the youngguns how it's done.
  • avatar

    I know it seems a little cheap to mention this, but I noticed playing Madden 13, that when I put one of my Dl into Qb coverage mode, which usually meant the player would start out by moving directed back of the dl and in the center of the screen, my run D improved. It was like a trap. Either the Dlineman helped take up blockers by moving to the other side some more, or the Hb would try to go to the vacant hole, but the linebackers were always there to clean up real fast.
  • avatar

    Maybe if they only stunt one guy instead of two, it wouldn't hurt the passrush so much . . . and that would only be on the first or second down. Also, if you get a tackle for a loss on the first down, you could scale back the stunt calls and just let the Dline passrush on second and third down.
  • avatar

    Jets 35-Bucs 10. No sacks for Bucs, Jets sack Freeman 4 times.
  • avatar

    This should be the last year for Sheridan. His scheme did not work with the Giants and it will not work here. Like PR said , the teams now throw on any down and with all the blitzes there is no coverage. Thats why they wanted Revis so bad but he can't cover everyone. They are going to play Barron in the box and hope that It's a run or they get to the QB before someone comes open, LOL.
  • avatar

    Bucs run defense would be better without the stunts. Having the Bucs front seven go downhill would generate more TFLs but also more sacks.
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