Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has a reputation for having one of the sharpest minds as a defensive coordinator. Both Bowles and Bucs head coach Bruce Arians also have a reputation for being as good of teachers as they are game planners, which is why many are confused about the defensive struggles for the 2-5 Bucs this season.

With a complex but mostly effective scheme that earned him his reputation, Bowles’ game plan is changing every week based on his opponent. And that’s what Bowles believes may have led to some slip ups in execution for such a young group this year.

CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

“We teach differently all the time,” Bowles said. “We teach it according to how a player can learn it, so it’s constant communication back and forth. We haven’t had that results we wanted but want to keep working at it. We’re making strides and it’s just here and there, something that comes up and the breaks hasn’t gone our way, but I think we’re close, we just got to keep churning.”

One of the bigger issues for the Bucs defense as of late has been penalties in the secondary that has continued drives for the opponent. Cornerback Carlton Davis had two pass interference penalties called on him that moved the ball down field and negated two interceptions.

“We had two penalties on the same drive that went for about 30 yards,” Bowles said. “We don’t want penalties, we don’t teach penalties, we don’t coach penalties If a penalty’s called, you got to get back on your horse. We don’t want penalties, we don’t teach penalties, we don’t coach penalties, but you don’t take away from a guy’s aggression, you just teach him how to be smart and more fundamentally and technically sound.”

The Bucs losses this year haven’t come from a lack of effort according to Bowles, who said that the intensity is there, but it’s just making their own mistakes that has cost them some wins.

“The foot’s on the gas,” Bowles said. “It’s not a matter of taking the foot off the gas, we just have to make sure we’re doing the right things all the time.”

Of course one way the Bucs can help out the secondary is by getting a better pass rush. With the return of Jason Pierre-Paul against Tennessee, the Bucs’ are already starting to see dividends as Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett also get better matchups.

In return, the young secondary can get more aggressive, and overall make them better.

“It’s always important as a DB whether you’re a rookie or vet to get pressure up front, they go hand in hand” Bowles said. “To have all those guys contributing and hopefully a lot more, that makes the ball come out a lot quicker so hopefully you can be more aggressive as a secondary. Like I said, they’re still young, there’s still learning route combinations and everything else like that, but I like the aggressiveness they’re showing.”

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Playing any position in the secondary must be one of the most difficult and hardest transitions from college to pros, especially with the sensitivity of penalty calls in this era. Keep your heads up, play hard.

    Go Bucs!

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  2. Todd Bowels reputation is running one of the worst Defense in league for 3 years at Jets and now runs the worst in league next to fire sale Miami here at Bucs. When you hire fired head coach from Jets who was fired for losing why would you be surprised Bucs Defense last place? And Bucs losing. It is simple mix of math and history hire losers and lose.

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    Rating: -32. From 46 votes.
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    • Take it a few steps up the ladder, losers hire losers who hire more losers. The Glaziers are the problem with the Bucs. If they can’t afford the Bucs and Manchester United, do Tampa a favor and sell the Bucs to someone who will run things right.

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    • I see the ghost accounts hit 10 negatives I stand corrected Bowles great defense only allowed 56 points in 7 games just like the patriots.
      The 212 points allowed on NFL stats is a misprint !!

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  3. Some INTs from our secondary against Russell Wilson would be a HUGE confidence boost! Here’s to hoping for a breakthrough!

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    Rating: +18. From 18 votes.
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  4. They are close. Bowles is not the problem. Anytime thinks he is the issue is stupid. It’s new system, young guys, and likely we are going to have to find at least 1 of not 2 better CB for next year. We have glaring issue at CB still and Dotson just isn’t very good at RT anymore.

    This team is close to being good imo. Closer than they been last 12 years And with the right coaches. It is going to take Little time like it or not. I don’t like it either but saying Bowles sucks or taking about firing coaches again and starting over is stupid.

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    • You can always count on Fredster to carry the management narrative yeah the bucs have a great defense a little tweak here in there and they’ll be top defense they only have to stop allowing 32 points a game scored against them to become a better defense what moronic thing to say Fredster

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  5. When your QB constantly gives the other team more opportunities then they should have, points are going to be scored against you. I’m not saying that the defense is playing great, they’re not, but they haven’t been helped by the most turnover prone QB in the league since 2015. Turnovers make any defense look bad, turnovers lose games period. As long as you have a turnover waiting to happen as your starting QB, you will lose more games then you win no matter how good your defense is. When you take the opening kick off, and your first play on offense is a pick in your territory, good chance you’re going to lose. When you have four more picks, and two fumbles by your QB, you’re going to lose, period.

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  6. Funny how guys that are stud athletes who dominate in college, struggle in the NFL and are characterized as Busts. But then you hear the D coordinator tell you he runs a very complicated scheme that changes with each opponent. Hmmm…. Will be interesting how these young DB’s perform as the season progresses and hopefully the scheme solidifies.

    And this whole notion that a guy who runs a 4.5 can’t hang with a guy who runs a 4.4 or a 4.3 is ridiculous. Knowing where you’re supposed to be and reacting to the route more than offsets those .1, .2 differences. Get in a flat out sprint after getting beat, yeah, maybe, but who remembers Rhonde’s 40 time. My guess is it wasn’t great. He’s a ROH and soon to be HOF.

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    Rating: +16. From 16 votes.
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  7. I wonder how many more DBs will have to be drafted before something actually works back there? We
    have added 6 DBs (6 CBs and 3 S) since 2016 and we have this to show for it? C’mon Jason Licht.

    We have other positions that obviously need to be addressed, so adapt your system to the players we
    have, make that work, and fix LT, RT, OLB and get a 3rd WR to go with Evans and Godwin

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    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
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    • “adapt your system to the players we have”….now there’s an idea.

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      • YES!!! Offense and defense. Our line can’t block for a downfield passing game yet we continue to run plays requiring 5, 7 step drops. Dirk and his ‘vertical’ passing game was the same thing.

        People used to say – and correctly – Don Shula would beat you with his guys, switch players and then beat you with your guys. Rather than dogmatically stick to a scheme, work with what you’ve got to win games other than try to prove your scheme is better than the other guys scheme.

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  8. You have to simplify the defense so at least theses rookies and second year players can have a chance to succeed. They r hesitating before they react and thus even a half step puts them behind from the beginning! They aren’t able to use their God giving talent fully because they are processing information before reacting. I would think that this has to be coaching and that they would, through repetition at camp they would/should have at least the base defense down. It’s not the first time we have seen this with the Bucs! It happened with Mike Smith and his defense. How can a defense be so difficult yet we are near last in league in defense? It doesn’t add up! Play a defense that plays to the talents of the guys u have and drafted! Like with Hargreaves, he was most successful playing off the defender and yet we continue to put him in press man to man. I don’t think that’s his game. He should be moved inside to cover the slot receiver. Some of these guys, seem to be playing out of position… if fans see it, can’t coaches too. That’s why I question the effectiveness of this coaching staff. Isn’t that why BA turned over play calling… which is/was a mistake by the way… so that he could oversee ALL aspects of the team? Offense, Defense and Special Teams? I just don’t understand! Here’s hoping the Bucs play like bandits with nothing to lose and beat the Hawks… since absolutely no one and I mean no one gives us a chance this week. Shock the world on Sunday! Go Bucs!

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  9. Why did Jason Licht pass up Greedy Williams?

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    • The same reason he passed on Dalton Risner to select Sean Murphy-Bunting… stupid too much

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      • and passed on Gabe Jackson for Charles Sims…and passed on Vonn Bell for Roberto Aguyao…and passed on, and on , and on….

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  10. Anybody catch that audio from locker room after last game. Per 620, JPP could be heard verbally spanking some DBs… in which the primary player was Toast Hargreaves… about taking the game more serious after the loss while Hargreaves and other DBs were talking about white girls and such! Immature and certainly not professional! I’ll say it again… players r not paid to play in the NFL… they r paid to win games… something we r not doing right now and haven’t for over 10 years regardless of the coaches or GMs. Perhaps, it is ownership. Perhaps the ball needs to be round before ownership gets serious about winning?!

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  11. < 6-10 here we go again

    7-9 i'd be fine

    8-8 would be great

    9-7 thank the heavens

    10-6 finally get help from our draft picks

    11-5 the team and fans come alive!!!!!

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  12. Fredster, what I read into this article is that the DB’s take longer to learn the defense because it’s having the most changes every so slightly every game.
    I’d rather spend rounds 1 and 2 on offensive lineman and round three on another defensive lineman. No need to pick DBS in the early rounds if it takes a couple years for these guys to figure out Bowles system. I’ve got to believe the head coach, offensive coordinator defensive coordinator, sits down with the GM and tells the GM the kind of players they want for their schemes. I still believe it is the GM which is the biggest issue at this point and is holding this team back.

    I’m hoping the Bucs finds a way to win this next game.

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  13. I don’t buy this “it takes DBs two years to learn” garbage:

    1) VHIII is in year 4, is he just slow to learn?
    2) lots of DBs on other teams don’t seem to be taking 2 years to learn…is the argument that our defense is soooo much more complicated than what the other teams are doing?…baloney!

    Yes the transition is hard – that’s why a) these guys get to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week learning!, b) they would have just spent at least 3 years largely 24/7 learning!, c) they are getting paid millions of dollars as motivation to …learn!, d) they get full time teachers to help them…learn!.

    If all of that’s not enough to learn….maybe 2 years isn’t going to be either….because maybe the problem has nothing to do with learning…maybe IT IS TALENT!

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  14. I think we can all agree that that quick fix isn’t happening this year. We ain’t going to the playoffs this year either.

    I can believe that the scheme that Bowles attempting to install may take 1 1/2 years to take hold. We are judging these young DBs based on seven games. Let’s see if they show any dramatic improvement in the next seven games.

    I am with you, Horse, we should go hot and heavy on both sides of the line in next year’s draft.
    _________________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  15. As far as VH3 when he came here as a rookie he appeared to have great potential. He had some of the flash and swagger of a “Neon Deon” because of the adulation he received in college from what I saw. Very typical.

    Like everyone else who comes along he has had to demonstrate his real worth. This season is revealing where he truly stands in the NFL. Like Winston he has had enough time now. It’s all on tape as they say.
    ______________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  16. We have the right players but It has taken time for Bunting from a small school to get up to NFL speed and Dean had an injury early. With Bunting and Dean at CB and Vernon or Edwards at slot CB and all playing man for man, and Adams and Whitehead at Safety our backfield will improve on Defense the more they play together with out wasting cap space on getting a veteran back there (we already got one veteran Safety, Darian Stewart, who isn’t good enough to start). With both Barret and PFF starting and putting big pressure on the opposing QB and our DC using some of his creative blitzes pressuring too our Defense will be fine as long as our DC stops playing zone at the end of games. With White back to be a spy to stop running QBs we should never go to zone again and pressure all game long. No way should we not resign Barret, PFF, and Suh next year!

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    • I watched Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean quite a bit in college [Auburn fan] and both were outstanding. Davis was the better of the two in coverage and as a tackler. Dean had a penchant for penalties, but was more of a ball hawk. Both guys were very physical in college. Davis is struggling with PI in the NFL [that said some of the penalties have been pure garbage.] and has gotten burnt quiet a bit this season. I’d love to see these guys on the outside and if Murphy Bunting can play the slot, great. Done with VHIII.

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  17. Please ban DumbAssBob from this site.

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  18. Another thing that could be wrong is despite being humiliated in public week after week some DBs, most notably VH III, dont take this game or thier jobs seriously.
    There are reports out today that after the Titans loss, a few Buc DBs, mot notably VH III, were seen laughing and chatting about girls and what they were going to do with them. A specific type and race was also mentioned.
    It took JPP to go over and tell him to shut up in order to make the jovial talk to stop.
    Get this clown out of here now. I’d rather lose without him then win with him.
    He has been in the league for four years and should know better and care more about winning.

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  19. I’ve noticed our blitzes don’t seem to put pressure on the QB most of the time. We’ll send 5, sometimes 6 rushers and they just get swallowed up by the blockers. Todd Bowles’ defensive is known to be an aggressive blitzing style scheme and I’ve seen it work on other teams (mostly at Arizona), so maybe it’s a mismatch of players to the scheme. Hopefully Devin White will grow into a role as a blitzing LB and help fix that problem. Getting some scheme pressure on the QB sure would help our defensive backfield!

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