About the author

Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he’s not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

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21 Comments

  1. 1

    Naplesfan

    Trevor – can you explain more specifically how the game plan would need to change to shift the focus from McCoy and the interior line to Noah Spence or another edge rusher?

    I’m having a hard time understanding what our coaches would tell Gerald to do differently from what he is doing now? He clearly draws the double teams on the interior most of the time, and when his interior teammate Clinton McDonald is health and productive drawing the single teams, our entire line seems to perform well, as it did in the second half of the season. Our D-line obviously also performed better when Ayers was in the lineup, which he was not in several games in the first half of the season.

    I am just not convinced by your assertion that we need to do something different in how we use McCoy when there are so many moving parts in the defense that all effect each other, with the performance of our linebackers and even safeties affecting the DTs and DEs, and the performance of the line affecting the effectiveness of our backfield defenders.

    Again, what specifically would you have McCoy do differently?

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    1. 1.1

      cgmaster27

      Actually I would like to see them put Mccoy on the edge more. Why not, it’s not like hes huge. His speed would be very effective. I do believe they might have done this from time to time, but I say do it more often.

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  2. 2

    Horse

    Naplesfan, I agree with your question to Trevor as I see no reason to do anything with McCoy. what I see is an average DE in Spence because I think he is too small. He’s okay in a rotational mode, but I don’t see him as one of our starting DE at this point in time. I also don’t see that much special about harris. He sure seems smaller than 6′ 3″. Is that height for real Trevor? Now what might help Spence and Golston would be another big power pusher at DT. A. Spence is a bit too small. Okay Scubog don’t go crazy as I know A. Spence has your favorite number 300+, but he has not much push with that weight at all. I have said this before that trading down a few spots in Round1 would open up other options, besides getting another 4th round pick. One last thing Trevor; doesn’t who you play against mean something of value too? I sure like the SEC & ACC.

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    1. 2.1

      scubog

      Horse: I only get a chuckle when you devalue Hawley as being “too small” then follow up with your desire to promote Gottschalk who is even smaller. Regarding the NT position, I do think a little girth can be effective. Neither the relatively smallish Clinton McDonald nor the more stout Akeem Spence showed much this past season. I presume their ineffectiveness was the reason Gholston and Ayers were moved inside on third downs.

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    2. 2.2

      Buc 1976

      Horse I agree with you about Spence! I would like to see a longer and heavier DE such as Rice was. In this draft Taco C seems to be that type of DE. I will admit I haven’t seen every DE in this draft but saw Taco in two games, and at times looked unlockable.

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  3. 3

    XpfcWintergreen

    Trevor, Naplesfan and Horse, I’ll not jump into the discussion yet. I am learning much from ‘Cover3’ and the discussion it engenders. Thanks all.

    I am loving it!!!
    __
    Go Bucs!

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    1. 3.1

      Iowabucfan

      Me, too.

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  4. 4

    chetthevette

    McCoy can’t get double digit sacks because he is the only game in town. Get another mauler inside or out and he’ll get 10 sacks.
    Surprise surprise surprise. Another call for linemen.
    GO BUCS

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  5. 5

    bucinkorea

    Hi Trevor, Do you have the combine data analysis and a mentality profile for Spence?

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  6. 6

    toofamiliar17

    The third section of this piece is just….strange. Outside of designing stunts to get specific players better looks at the QB (similar to what the Niners did with Aldon Smith for the entirety of his short hey day in San Fran), or by occasionally scheming to get linemen one on one in favorable matchups due to protection shifts in response to blitz looks, I don’t really know what Trevor is talking about as far as making Spence or any other DE our “finisher” instead of McCoy being that guy.

    The player who gets there first finishes the play. When Rice got here, his numbers eclipsed Sapp’s not because of a choice by Kiffin or anyone else on our side for it to be that way. It happened that way because, all things being equal, it’s easier for a DE to get to the QB on a play than it is for a DT to do it. DEs typically end up one on one with one OT, whereas great DTs like Sapp (and, yes, like McCoy) often have to deal with both the guard across from him and extra attention from the OT next to that guard, along with any help a RB might be giving with difficult chip blocks on the interior.

    Sapp’s presence has to be credited for a not insignificant part of Rice’s production. When you have a destructive force on the interior, it requires so much attention from an opponent. Much of that attention takes away from resources that could be used to help slow down great DEs. I’ll be thrilled if Spence takes off and leads the team in sacks in 2017, getting into double digits and all that. But if he does so, it won’t be because the team decided it to be so. It’ll be because he just plays at a very high level, and because his teammates around him force opposing offenses to respect them as threats while he’s on the field.

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    1. 6.1

      Naplesfan

      Thank you, toofamiliar1 – you articulated much better than I did in my comment (question, really) at the top of this thread.

      And like you, I believe that a defensive line only performs as a unit, so that when one player becomes more effective in his job, it tends to make the whole line play better, even if the headline stats like sacks or QB hits aren’t distributed evenly.

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    2. 6.2

      Trevor Sikkema

      You just answered your own question.

      You said, “occasionally scheming to get linemen one on one in favorable matchups due to protection shifts”. That’s what I’m talking about. We can’t say that as just a passing statement. It should be a gameplan in an of itself.

      Gap alignment is very important when it comes to who gets to the quarterback the quickest. McCoy is usually the 3 or 2-tech defensive tackles, right? The point of that is to get on the shoulder of the guard to be able to get into him and past him quickly. Does this cause double teams? Yes. But where does the double team come from and what does it accomplish?

      Usually, it’s schemed to come from the inside, that’s why a defense usually takes its Nose Tackle and aligns him on the opposite shoulder of the center as to not allow a double team from there since the center will be picking up the nose tackle. This gives McCoy a better chance at a one-on-one, but it doesn’t always happen.

      If it doesn’t and McCoy is in fact double teammed, that’s often as far as the success goes for Tampa’s pass rush right now. They’re scheming their pass rush on the highest difficulty, because, as you noted, it is easier to create doubles on the inside man. This is the point of my question in the third section.

      By making McCoy the primary pass rushing option, Tampa is giving their top interior pass rusher the best chance at a one-on-one, which makes sense, skill wise, but not efficiency wise. As you noted, all things considered, it is easier for a defensive end to make it to the quarterback, but only if it is designed as such.

      If you instead flip where McCoy lines up, and instead of being lineup up on Spence’s side of the field, you line him up on the other side at the 3-tech, this allows for Spence to play even farther off the edge (which we only saw glimpses of this year), which gives him even more room since the nose tackle will now be on Spence’s side to take the guard’s attention in the A-gap. You can only do this, however, if you plan for it. If you don’t it limits how far out side Spence can line up because you can’t completely sell yourself out and not contain the pocket as well as collapse it – all of this sort of boils down to do you believe Spence can both set and disrupt the edge, hence the question.

      This will then force one of two outcomes: either the nose tackle successfully takes both the guard and the center which gives McCoy and Spence both one-on-ones (though the guard to Spence’s inside will likely still be able to help if he comes on an inside move) OR… McCoy will get good penetration and he will be doubled by the center, which means the nose tackle will be driving the guard to the inside by himself, which would leave Spence one-on-one to pick his attack inside or out against a tackle with no help. That’s called getting something out of McCoy’s double teams schematically, not by chance.

      At the end of the day, you are correct, the player that gets to the quarterback is the finisher. But if you trust your edge rusher to have the skill to beat a tackle, there are way to align a front four to give him that chance more often than not.

      I’m not saying you take away McCoy, or even change too much of what he’s doing, but you can change where he does it. The end result is often premeditated in football. It takes effort and skill, yes, but it also take a plan. If you focus on Spence being the finisher, in theory, it would get the most out of McCoy’s double teams, since you know they’re coming anyways.

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  7. 7

    seat26

    I think it is time to consider a crazy idea. McCoy has peaked. What we are seeing of him right now Is the best we are ever going to see. But he is worth a lot in a trade. Every manager would rather have a proven DL who has good character and can produce 5 to 8 sacks a year and 30 or more tackles than an unproven rookie who may not have the character that McCoy has. This is a very strong draft Defensively and I bet we could get multiple high picks for McCoy. He is never going to be Warren Sapp. He is a very good player, but we could get two of him in the upcoming draft. Maybe even three. Just a thought. Now go ahead and throw some stones at me….

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    1. 7.1

      Naplesfan

      The reason you don’t do that is because every draft pick is a crap shoot – the odds are slightly better in craps, actually, than with first round picks, let alone later rounds. Even if you get lucky, your keeper draftee will take years to mature and learn their trade, provided they don’t get dragged down with injury.

      Why on earth would any team trade a proven, high performing asset for a turn at the craps table, particularly when there is no contract dispute or above-market salary demands being made by the known factor player you have?

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      1. 7.1.1

        seat26

        My reasoning is that the bucs have a habit of keeping players too long and letting go players too soon. I think McCoy is probably worth more than anyone else on this team in a trade and I bet we could get two 1st round picks and maybe another 2nd as well. This is a very deep draft on Defense and at the skill positions on Offense with the exception of QB. We are going to lose Glennon so we are also going to need a QB. So if your counting we need DL help, Corner help, safety help, Receiver help, Running back help, Tight End help, a Center and a guard and Tackle. We need more picks. McCoy would be missed but I think we can replace him. He is very good, don’t get me wrong. But he is not Warren Sapp and he is worth more now than he ever will be and future drafts ? who knows if we will get a chance again like in this draft.

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  8. 8

    pinkstob

    Spence has nothing in common with S. Rice and McCoy is not as good as Sapp. If you want the production that comes from our defense of old, find a DE that’s a lot better than Spence (Spence is not even a DE, he’s a pass rushing specialist that is effective in certain situations) and find a DT that is slightly better than McCoy.

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    1. 8.1

      seat26

      I totally agree. We have to stop treating our best players like they are hall of famers. We need to see what their value is and make smart decisions. Trading McCoy would be good. Getting another DE would be good. Picking up a DT would be excellent.

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  9. 9

    chetthevette

    On my third read of this article. Not much progress getting the gist of all these charts.
    Cliff notes:
    A pass rusher should be fast, strong and have a good start with good instincts.
    Is that a fair assessment TS?
    GO BUCS

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    1. 9.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      It was more to say that edge rusher have to have an assortment of athletic tools, both in ability ad flexibility. Without one of the three parts, they’re usually average at best.

      When you watch the Combine, you can’t just say “Wow, look how fast he ran! Let’s draft him in the first round!” You have to make sure his athletic ability is translatable to every area of the field, not just a straight line, or not just in quickness, etc. Overall athleticism isn’t just important, it’s a necessity. Can’t get caught up in shiny things like 40-yard dash time and stop there.

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  10. 10

    matador

    Lots of good posts,here. Hope Spence can deliver over the next 5 years but concerned about his durability in this league playing in a 4-3. Gutsy yes but still gets an incomplete in year 1, up to him to prove otherwise. Fingers crossed

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    1. 10.1

      seat26

      He kind of reminds me of a tweener. Not quite big enough to play a DE and not quite fast enough to play LB. But he can still be a very effective player for us. He came on at the end of the year. I want him to show more.

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