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October 29, 2013 @ 10:37 am
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

Once Promising Bucs Defense At A Crossroad

Written by Gil
Gil Arcia


Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The Buccaneers defensive coaching staff has been under fire for not properly utilizing their players. After analyzing games from before and after the bye week, it's clear something changed. Head coach Greg Schiano provided some insight on possible changes that may lie on the horizon.
The Buccaneers made changes to their defense this offseason so that 2012's performance didn't repeat itself. It seemed to have been heading down the right path in the first four weeks of the season but it has been quite the opposite as of late.  

Before the bye week, Tampa Bay recorded 13 sacks on opposing quarterbacks. They have just four since. Instead of making improvements during the bye it appears as if the Bucs took steps backwards. Out of their 17 total sacks, 13 of them came in man coverage while the other four were in zone.

Head coach Greg Schiano and the coaching staff have been under a lot of heat lately for decisions that have been made on defense. Decisions like the types of coverages played in certain situations have hurt the team on the field rather than help. Schiano talked about some potential changes coming on defense. 

"Without going into details, because I think that would put us at a schematic disadvantage, we examine third down, we examine first and second down, what are we doing? Where are we really the most successful,” Schiano said. “I think there are some things that we need to play upon more and there are some things we need to cut back a little on. The biggest thing defensively in my estimation is precision. We had free blitzers to the quarterback and we were on the wrong shoulder and he escaped out. As a coach when you create a free blitzer, meaning that no one blocked him, you can't do more than that. We have to make that play. When you have a guy that's supposed to contain and he doesn't, you can't do it, you have to do the scheme and then the plays come to you. That part of it, that's got to be accountable by the player.

“The coaching part I look at is, defensively, we need to make sure we're accentuating our best players. Putting them in a position to make plays better than we have. That's something that I have looked at hard and I know our coaches have as well."

Cornerback Darrelle Revis is a player that many have argued is not being used to the best of his ability. One of the best shutdown corners in the last decade has been instructed to worry about a section of the field as opposed to the opposition’s best receiver. Leading the league since 2007 with 104 passes defensed, Revis has six this season which have come in man coverage. Of those six, four were in the first four weeks before the bye week which is another example of the Bucs doing things differently after the bye week. 

In Weeks 1-4, Tampa Bay had virtually an even ratio of zone to man coverages called on passing plays, 51 percent zone and 49 percent man after breaking down each game. Since then, almost 70 percent of defensive plays by the Buccaneers have been some type of zone coverage. This too illustrates the problems with not utilizing the skillsets of their players when you look at the sack totals pre and post bye week as well as passing yardage given up – 238 yards per game before the bye week, 263 yards per game after the bye. This too has led to more points as a once physical Bucs defense was giving up just over 17 points per game but have given up 31 in each of the last three games. The rushing defense has also regressed giving up a 126.0 yards average in the last three contests, compared to just under 90 yards before the bye. 

Another noticeable difference has been the play of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. His motor and high energy is not the issue, but the production is not the same. The 2012 Pro Bowler was seen countless times in the opponents backfield in the first four games of the season disrupting plays and getting to the quarterback. Since Week 6, McCoy has seen lots of double teams and registered just one tackle for loss and two hits on the quarterback. A lot of that has to do with those around McCoy no longer doing their part in the defense – whether that is due to scheme or player miscues. Schiano touched on McCoy’s frustration.

"I think Gerald's general frustration is that he's such a competitor and he's playing at such a high level,” Schiano said. “The guys around him aren't all playing at his level and that I think is generally frustrating for Gerald, but he is such a team player and he wears it all on his shoulders. One of the things I've told him is 'You're doing a great job.' He's beating guys one-on-one rushes over and over again but if you get the quarterback off the spot and the other guy isn't there, usually when you get a sack it's because [the quarterback] has nowhere to go and you sack him. We need to play to our strengths better and making sure we are more precise when we do get a chance to isolate our strength. Gerald's done a very good job and I think the coaches [defensive coordinator] Bill [Sheridan] and his staff have done a great job of getting Gerald in position to get one-on-one blocks. There's not many guys in the National Football League that can block Gerald McCoy one-on-one, it just doesn't happen. If we can create those one-on-ones then we have to help him and he's got to finish which he's done but we also have to help him around it. 

“One thing I don't worry about at all is Gerald McCoy; he is through and through a team player. I know he's got my back, he knows I got his back and he's playing at a very high level. I really believe as we do a better job around him his stats are going to show. I tell you every coach that we play against, they game plan for him because he's that good."

It’ll be interesting to see if the coaching staff turns the defense around . The offense has scored 20 or more points in two of the last three games and if the defense was still allowing just under 20 points a game still, theoretically the Bucs could have had at least two wins in the last three games. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 12:32

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  • avatar

    Please no more Tampa 2 . It wont work . It cost us every year except 1. Look at Dallas , look at USC the M. Kiffin years. NO MORE TAMPA 2!!!
  • avatar

    Great post macabee. Looking forward a high draft pick and new regime(GM HC)!! Big opportunity for the Bucs. looking forward to new QB;D-line;WR(or dual HB threat);Def-Secondary; maybe O-line, and playoffs.. this time for real ;-) GoBucs!!
  • avatar

    While we are talking about the defense are we sure that mccoy is even good? I have watched every play of his career and just dont see him making that much of an impact. Statistically its not there. I have no clue how he made the pro bowl with 30 tackles and 5 sacks. its not the scheme. he isnt eating up blockers for the rest of the team to make big plays, we are near the bottom of the league in sacks all the time now. I really cant think of any big plays he has made at any point ever really. Are we sure he is even good?
  • avatar

    Yes...WE are sure. No...YOU aren't.
  • avatar

    Great post @mjmoody. I agree, the NFL is a different game now. We have to build our team to the new rules which favor offense, and in particular high scoring passing attacks. We need to be threat to score 3-4 TDs a game otherwise no matter what we tweak on DEF it will be difficult to win consistently.
  • avatar

    i do agree its the scheme but i will also say you have to have the personel to execute the scheme and we don't. Claiborne while he has a high motor isn't fast off the edge or ellusive enough to get to the qb on a regular basis he is and always will be a 5-8 sack guy a yr DE much like Greg Spires. Teo' Neshiem or how ever his name is spelled is a depth guy at best playing the other side of the line who doesn't make any qb lose sleep at nights, this problem goes deeper than just saying its the scheme, sure in game adjustments help but you can have Dick lebeau and it won't matter with the line we have. We need an over haul of coaching and personel next yr going forward starting with the qb and building around him if this team thinks Glennon is the future than we will have another 5-7 yrs of mediocre to sub par play from this team unless we can get a coach who doesn't have his head up his *censored*.
  • avatar

    Macabee is right on the money. But it is not just the defensive scheme. The offense fared well last year until DC's started watching tape and figuring out that they could stop the Bucs by getting pressure on Freeman and limiting Martin's long runs. This offense is not designed to generate multiple looks or to generate match up problems. it is a simplistic "line up and beat your man" system. While there always has to be some of that, if that is all you do it easy to prepare for and to defend. Offenses in particular have to always be adapting to stay ahead of the defenses. Schiano's schemes don't adapt. The coaches don't make effective half time adjustments. They don't play to their personnel strengths. I also think that we are getting the picture of Schiano as a guy who would rather lose with his guys than win with guys he doesn't like. You can sell that business to a college program that doesn't expect to win the BCS title every year; but this is big boy football and there are no style points for losing.
  • avatar

    Good analysis. But I don't think fixing it is as simple as playing more man coverage. Sure, we have Revis, who can likely lock down a top WR when healthy. But we also have several LB and DB's are liabilities in pass coverage (Foster, Watson, LJ, Banks, etc), so teams simply choose to go after them when we play man. It's a team defense and as said below, other teams are figuring it out. They are also figuring out that many of our players just can't beat their opposition one on one (ie. D-Line). Yes, it is a lost season....
  • avatar

    I believe the silver lining here is that this defense is built well enough for today's NFL. They just need a DC that knows how to use it. (A new HC is just a given) I believe we will see KC with the #1 D in the league and a rudimentary offense, stumble in the playoffs--if they make it. You just aren't allowed to play intimidating defense in today's NF(Goodel)L. Pressure from the D-line seems to be better than a sack anymore. With a sack you risk giving the O 15 yards and a 1st down. Pressures give the QB's in the league (Outside of P.Manning, Brady, Luck--maybe Brees) the opportunity to throw interceptions. A team just needs a communicating and deep 2ndary. The Colts & Seahawks have both built very solid one's from 2nd tier FA's. Not 1st round draft picks. We really need to switch our focus from D to O. A scoring offense is a bigger game changer than the best defense. In the Bucs' case, an OC/HC scheme with a soft spot for developing QB talent. Ala Testman from the Bears; just for example. That's a lot of words to say, the game has changed & so has the measuring stick for defensive success. In Tampa, D has been our rock. That is our illustrious past. But it's the past. We need to move beyond it and change our expectations. 2-3 stops is all you need. The offense is the problem.
  • avatar

    Love your posts macabee. Good observations by Gill as well. Last season the team improved somewhat over the bye week before the last half collapse when opponents quickly responded and injuries took their toll. But this season after the bye week the team actually digressed. When management initiates a change its' effectiveness is monitored over time to determine if the desired results were achieved. Good job Coach, your tinkering made us worse. A NFL team being a 16-1/2 point underdog is shameful.
  • avatar

    So last year we didnt have the corners to play man all the time yet still did so, which lead to getting beat on the outside play after play. This year we finally have a shutdown corner that makes that kind of defense work, yet now we switch to playing mostly zone. Yup, that makes perfect sense.
  • avatar

    This Year Is Over GO HOME BUCS FOOTBALL IS OVER..........................
  • avatar

    Before we had free agency and before we drafted I and many others said that we needed a left defensive end and a defensive tackle in rounds 1 & 2. That did not happen in here we have our same problem that we had last year. We still do not have a strong pass rush. All the teams that have winning records have a strong pass rush. For some reason this Coach decided that he was much smarter than all the other coaches in the NFL. We need a much stronger defensive tackle so that McCoy can do his thing; we need a left defensive end that can get to the QB. The pass rush is the most important thing in the NFL pertaining to defense. I wouldn't put this coach in charge of a lemonade stand. With free agency this coming season and our draft picks we should be there; as long as Schiano & Sheridan are not coaching this teamwork. Dominic if you allow any of our players to be cut in the next nine games , I'm going to be right on for you being fired too. We have players right now that should be on IR and we should be picking up other players today.
  • avatar

    macabee this is a great analysis sent in to the tbo the stunting really does nothing except wear the players down from useless running, but also once figured out blocking wise the o gets more time for passes and runs
  • avatar

    With Schian Ofer7 it is all talk, until it is not. Just more of the "fixes" he always mentions that I never see on the field. I am not from Missouri, but SHOW ME!
  • avatar

    This is an issue that I have given a lot of thought to and I keep coming back to the same place – it’s Schiano’s Grand Scheme! After hearing Michael Bennett’s words regarding Schiano, I thought he didn’t like Schiano and Schiano got rid of him as he has done other skilled players because he wasn’t a so-called Buccaneer man. But if that were the case, he would have simply gotten another rush DE like Osiumenyiora or Freeney when they were available. They never attempted to get D-Line experience because it was never in their plans. And it was never about the money! Schiano has this idea that he brought with him from Rutgers of a defense that attacks from the LB and Secondary positions. His defense is designed for the sacks and QB pressures to come from the secondary, hence his investment in Barron and Goldson. You can also see the stunts run by the defensive line that is supposed to open the door for the secondary. The D-Line is designed to stop the run, not rush the passer. That is why proven pass-rushing DEs like Selvie, Gilberry, and Bennett were passed over.This scheme is as detrimental to Gerald McCoy and the DEs as playing zone is to Darelle Revis. This works if OCs in the NFL have no brain and can’t watch tape. This worked early on against Drew Brees as it did last year against Cam newton. But once OCs figured out what Schiano was doing and made adjustments, Schiano does not have scheme adaptability to vary the scheme in-game or between games. Go back and watch the tape!
  • avatar

    This is one of the most insightful post I have read on this site macabee. From now on when you have something to say I will be paying attention.
  • avatar

    Well said @macabee. That is the Defense in a nutshell. And that is why good players are not producing the way we expect them to.
  • avatar

    Great article Gil. By doing your careful analysis and showing that we have gotten worse after the Coaches tinkered over the break trying to improve it, just shows that Sheridan and Schiano don't have the first clue of what they are doing. No wonder they don't make proper half time adjustments in games. They are incapable of figuring it out and when they do try they only make it worse. That is why Dumb and dumber need to walk the plank if we are ever going to right the Pirate Ship and start sailing to the top. I also love your in depth questions to the Coach and seeing what he says. When he says Sheridan is doing a great job, what he is really telling you is that he has Sheridan's back and Sheridan has his back, but that is not how a Coach in the NFL gets to keep his job. It is by winning!!! And smart Head Coaches in the NFL fire position coaches when they don't get their job done so it does not cause the HC to lose his job too. But no, Schiano wants to make sure Sheridan only says good things about him. No wonder we have great problems.
  • avatar

    Pat Kirwan of NFL XM radio stated that since the Seahawks just played a ferocious pass rushing rams then playing the Buccaneers would be "like taking an aspirin"
  • avatar

    I agree that the defense is at a crossroad. I'd love to see us play an entire game in man coverage just to have another data point to compare against. It's not like we've got anything to lose. Playing zone hasn't gotten us any victories.
  • avatar

    Schiano seems out of touch saying "Sheridan and the coaches are doing a GREAT job". The only change I would like to see is Schiano and Sheridan out of here. We are in need of a D line that can get to a QB without any help from the LB group.
  • avatar

    I always try to be optimistic and positive when it comes to this team. It is hard to win in the NFL and any victory should be celebrated. I view it as entertainment and not as life or death. But, this is anything but entertaining. This has really become sad. There is talent on this team and it is being wasted. I am always saddened when I see a person, especially a young person, waste their talents and/or opportunities. Now, I am truly saddened to see this team do it. Especially in a City that I have fond memories of. Especially in a City that deserves better.
  • avatar

    It's just football. People post like their lives depend on the outcome of Bucs' games.
  • avatar

    Where are the straight ahead rushes? Why do we run so many stunts where it causes us to lose contain on the edges and potentially delay our time to reach the QB? Why do we not play Revis in man and if we DO run a zone, keep Revis in man? So many questions.
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