The debate rages on about the scheme the Bucs are running defensively and if they are putting cornerback Darrelle Revis in the best position on Sundays. On Thursday, defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan defended Tampa Bay's scheme, and even as a joke, invited Bucs fans to come help with the game plan.
Buccaneers defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and head coach Greg Schiano are polar opposites with regards to their personalities.
Sheridan laughs and cuts up with the media, and probably at times, says more than Schiano would prefer him to say.
Schiano, on the other hand, is fairly tight-lipped, and offers little more than he has to when addressing the media during his press conferences.
On Thursday, Sheridan was his usual, jovial self and joked with the media when asked whether the Buccaneers play too much zone coverage versus man coverage with star cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“What are [fans] chirping about?’’ Sheridan said with a laugh. “Tell me what they’re chirping about.’’
After getting clarification, Sheridan smiled and offered up an invite that most likely will make Schiano bristle.
“Well, what I want to do is to invite them to join us,” Sheridan said. “I get here about 5:20 a.m. every single morning and they’re more than welcome to hang around until about 11:00 a.m. for the first four nights of the week. And they can help us put the whole game plan together. We’ve got all the free Cokes you could want in the building and we’ll be happy to take their suggestions on how they can better use Darrelle. Trust me when I tell you that we painstakingly game plan how best to use all of our personnel – not just Darrelle. But I appreciate the chirping.’’
On Wednesday Schiano was asked about the zone vs. man debate, but stopped short of inviting the fans to help with the game plan in his answer.
“Well he is being used, often times, in man-to-man coverage,” Schiano said. “Whether the whole coverage is man-to-man or just him taking a guy out of the play man-to-man, most fans won’t be able to figure that out by watching it. We do use his skills differently than some other guys because he has the ability to cover one-on-one. Does he do it every snap? No, there are times where you give him a breather and let him play zone, but there aren’t very many. We position him in a way he plays a lot of one-on-one coverage and again we give him flexibility because of his experience, just like we do [safety] Dashon [Goldson], there’s flexibility there because these guys are experienced players.
“They know the personnel they’re playing against, they also know and anticipate what’s coming by all the down and distance, field position, formation, personnel group – all of those things that experienced players key off of.”
Revis himself sounded off on the debate Thursday in open locker room.
“I don’t get into all of that,’’ Revis said. “I don’t get into the fans or press clippings or what people have to say. The only thing we can do is control what we’re doing here. I’ve got to do a better job as well as a number of my teammates of executing the plays better.’’
In a perfect world, the Buccaneers would prefer to just line Revis up on the opposing team’s top receiver and blanket him all game. But with Revis still not 100 percent recovered from ACL reconstruction just over a year ago, those expectations may be unrealistic at this point.
And while the Bucs do play more man than zone over the course of the game, unfortunately for them, teams have hit their biggest passing plays while the Bucs are in zone, or do not have Revis in favorable matchups.
Sheridan commented on one of the two touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson last Sunday.
“Nothing really, that [is a] big secret," Sheridan said. "On the first one, they ran away from the zone leverage and [cornerback Darrelle Revis] would probably tell you himself he wishes he would have played it better. A lot of times when you’re isolated out there in the deep zone, a guy has a two-way cut on you so it’s easy to say ‘Well, you should’ve closed better on it,’ but his guy has a two-way go on it.
"On the second one, it was a fairly good route concept, it was a deep up-and-over we call ‘cross country mentality,’ same thing. We had back end people back there but it’s bending away from them so you’ve really got to run to catch to it. But it's same thing – those guys will tell you they should’ve, would’ve, could’ve played a little bit better and you’re counting on pressure even from your front four so the ball gets out a little earlier on the down. It’s not a real ‘heave-ho’ pass where they’re just laying it out there and letting the guy run to it.”
Until the Bucs get into the win column on a consistent basis, the criticism of Sheridan's scheme will continue, but the Bucs will have a better chance of success in Atlanta this Sunday with star receiver Julio Jones out for the season and fellow receiver Roddy White questionable with a hamstring and ankle injury.
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