Photo: Getty Images
One of the challenges in facing a Chip Kelly-coached team is keeping up with the pace of its offense. The quick-to-the-line, no-huddle approach worked well for Kelly at the University of Oregon, and though it eventually faltered in Philadelphia, opposing defenses still have to prepare for the tempo.
Before traveling out west, the Bucs will try to simulate the 49ers offense to help the defense adjust, in terms of lining up properly or getting calls in in a timely manner. Coach Dirk Koetter, however, knows that it takes live-action reps to get completely acclimated.
“Usually you have to get into the game and sometimes it takes a couple series before the defensive players can really fully adjust,” Koetter said. “Obviously we try to duplicate it in practice, but it’s not easy to duplicate that tempo.”
Fortunately for Tampa Bay, this won’t be the first time it’s seen this style and Round 1 went to the Bucs. The team played its most complete game in Philadelphia last season, routing Kelly’s Eagles 45-17 in Week 11.
For as good as the offense was that day – 238 yards passing, 283 rushing – the defense may have been even better. Along with a fumble recovery and three interceptions, including a pick-six by Lavonte David, the Bucs dominated time of possession, 35:54 to 24:06, and held the Eagles to 7-of-15 on third downs.
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The game, in which the Eagles had seven drives stall in less than two minutes, showed precisely how the defense can take control and use the up-tempo pace to its advantage.
“If you stop the run on those guys, get them into third-and-long, then we can try to get them off the field,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “We’re just going to do what we can to get the ball back to our offense.”
“That’s a must,” added cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah. “Whenever we do get them in third down, we have to emphasize getting off the field. That’s really the way you contain an up-tempo offense, making them throw incomplete passes and stopping them on third down. Those are probably the two keys to the game on defense in order to be successful Sunday.”
Speaking from his own experience running the no-huddle, Koetter said its success is dependent upon moving the chains at least once during the drive. Otherwise the plan to fatigue the opposing defense can backfire onto your own defense.
“I think [a reporter] said we got off the field in 17 seconds,” Koetter said, referencing a Bucs no-huddle drive that went three-and-out. “If you’re stopping the clock and you’re off in 17 seconds, your D is back out there. We’ve been on the other end of that. That’s everybody’s no-huddle, you’ve got to be productive and make first downs.”
As for the Bucs experience against a similar offense in Philly, Koetter said last year’s game is certainly something to draw on but not rely on. Although there are familiar plays on tape, Koetter said, Kelly has a different offensive coaching staff in San Fran (save for quarterback coach Ryan Day), while Tampa Bay has an entirely new defensive staff. McCoy added that it’s completely different personnel from Philly in ‘15 to San Fran in ‘16, too.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith, pleased with the defense’ 68.9 percent success rate on third down, echoed McCoy’s comments. While tiring and difficult to adjust to, the most important thing for Tampa Bay against the 49ers offense is to continue its success on third down.
“Our depth is going to be tested. We’re going to have to try to get them off the field as quickly as possible and get the ball to our offense,” Smith said. “That’s the way you stop that up-tempo offense. They no-huddle, they keep you at the line of scrimmage.
“It is fatiguing, not only physically but mentally,” Smith said. “We’ve done a good job. We started on Monday really working the techniques we need, in terms of how we’re going to communicate. The great thing is that the noise isn’t going to be a factor out there for us anyway so we should be able to communicate. We’d rather be playing here in Tampa, I can assure you that, but we will be able to communicate.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
4-2-5 sounds good to me and every now and then blitz someone.
Uptempo garbage that got Kelly fired in Philly? Kaeperdick sucks too. He’s terrible.
Chip is a joke as a coach. He took a 10-6 Eagle team and totally ruined it.
Made RB Demarco Murray worthless with his idiotic play calling.
If we lose to this clown and this horrible team and qb then we have no chance this season period.
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