This story is intended to be read by Pewter Insider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers. 1. "GO" PACKAGE HAS TWO SURPRISING FIRST-TEAMERS While installing defensive coordinator Jim Bates' defense, the Buccaneers have been giving plenty of focus to the nickel and dime defense. That is not surprising considering the Bucs play in a division where all three division opponents have potent passing attacks. Tampa Bay knows they have to get a serious pass rush to keep those teams off the scoreboard.
The Bucs are calling their pass-rushing group the "Go" package because they are going after the quarterback with this group. The first-team Go package contains a few surprises. At left defensive end, the Bucs are using strongside linebacker Quincy Black in a three-point stance against the right tackle. Inside rushers using three techniques are veteran Jimmy Wilkerson and rookie Kyle Moore. At right defensive end is Gaines Adams.
Wilkerson and Adams are not surprises considering they were the best pass rushing defensive linemen last season. The fact that a rookie and a linebacker are on the first team of this unit stood out to Pewter Report during Thursday's OTA practice session.
"Hey you're an observer, I like it, you guys come to practice and are really paying attention," said head coach Raheem Morris when asked about Black playing defensive end and Moore with the starting unit. "You talk about Kyle, you see a guy that went from end to inside on third down in rush packages and can play a three technique, and win a one-on-one with a guard. He is a big, athletic, 6-5 guy that can create problems for people and knock down some passes, which you love.
"When you talk about Quincy you talk about a hybrid athlete, who if he were on the street would probably be loved by the linebacking corps of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the 3-4 teams that can just do different things. He's a James Harrison-type. Not to say he's James Harrison, but I see special qualities and talent in him."
Bates has said throughout this offseason that the pass rush can not be dependent on one player, so the choices of Moore and Black are big indicators as to who the coaching staff things highly of. Black is also in the mix to start at strongside linebacker right now, so it's clear the coaches are doing whatever they can to get him on the field and keep him there.
I asked Black if his speed, and the speed of the other players was the reason for them being the on the Bucs' primary pass rush unit.
"Exactly," said Black. "It is all about versatility too. The more you can do the better. I'm playing the left end in the Go package, but if they need me to kick back into Sam it is not like I can't do that. Those
are trained within those five yards, they have their assignments down and are as quick as anybody in the league within those five yards. My job is to create some pressure and do what I can do."
While Black playing end is a bit of a surprise for some, it is something that he has experience at. In junior college, Black played defensive end, and in the past couple of years, former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin experimented some with him at right end. Black did play end sparingly in a couple of games as a Buccaneer. The most prevalent was a game against the Saints during the 2007 season.
"Well, we are doing some different looks," said Black. "The coaching staff is trying to create competition everywhere. They are trying to keep me on the field on every down.
"Right now, I'm just working staying on the field. I'll play right end if they want me to, but right now Gaines is over there. They have me working at left end with Jimmy, the incumbent, and Stylez (White), who is a great pass rusher himself."
Black also discussed his comfort level at defensive end considering his on-and-off time lining up against offensive tackles.
"It is still football at the end of the day," said Black. "Last year, we had some stuff with the Sam linebacker blitzing off the edge. It is kind of similar to that stuff. When I first got here, Coach Kiffin gave me he opportunity to put my hand in the dirt depending on some blitzes even with four down linemen. I'm as comfortable as I'm going to get."
Like the 3-4 package, playing Black at end was a Kiffin experiment that never was featured more than a handful of times in a season. Morris feels different about it.
"I guess you had to call it an experiment last year when we didn't use it," Morris said. "I want to use it. I want to see at least what he can do. If it doesn't work than it is an experiment.
"I'm trying him on the left side right now to rush the right tackle like you were saying. Just to see what he can do. Last year, we tried him a little on the right, but you know we want Gaines Adams to develop into a premier rusher. When Jimmy Wilkerson goes inside and rushes on third down, he is pretty special in there. When you can get a guy that can come from the left side and give some of those same qualities that Gaines hopefully brings from the right this year, and Quincy bringing it from the left this year, then you get that Indianapolis Colts look of speed on both sides. It is just about using what you got, using your talent, and making the most out of it."
The seriousness of Black playing defensive end was obvious in the actions of the team. In the first part of last Thursday's OTA practice, Black was running back and forth from the linebackers to the defensive line to get work in both groups drills. Roughly he was splitting the time evenly between linebacker and line drills.
"Right now it is working some different things with what Coach wants," Black said. "I go do some D-line drills once or twice a week. Everything else is linebacker right now."
Considering the Bucs only have three OTA practices a week, it is a major amount of time to have Black spend part of one or two practices getting work with the defensive linemen during their drills. Morris indicated the serious nature that he is taking Black as an end, but that is also evident with the rest of the defensive staff.
"Coach [Todd] Wash, Coach [Robert] Nunn, and Coach Bates," Black said are working with him on his pass rush from end. "They are throwing everything they can at the wall and whatever sticks, sticks. They know I'm a linebacker, but they are giving me the opportunity to get on the field and make some plays."
While Moore (6-5, 272), Wilkerson (6-2, 270), Adams (6-5, 260), and Black (6-2, 227) all have excellent speed for their positions. The group does lack size but those listed weights have to be taken with a grain of salt. Adams told Pewter Report a few weeks back that he is 248 pounds right now. Wilkerson doesn't look smaller than the 290 pounds he played last season at. Black has told Pewter Report that he is around 240 pounds.
In the offseason, players' weights fluctuate so you the number right now doesn't matter too much. But what is clear about this group is focused on going after the quarterback with a speed mismatch for the offensive line to deal with.
Wilkerson and Moore are generally lining up as three techniques. That means they line up over the outside shoulder of the guards. Former Buc Warren Sapp made rushing while using the three technique common knowledge for Bucs fans.
"Well it is 'Go,' so we are both playing threes," said Moore. "In shorter down and distances we might have one of us play a two technique in case they try to run the ball on us. We always have to have one of the A-gaps covered then.
"When it is third-and-5 or more we're going after them (as three technique tackles lined up head on the guards). If it is anything less than we have to watch for the run or the quarterback sneak. If we were both playing threes they could run it right up the middle, and that will hurt us."
During the last organized team activity, the Go package got extensive use, and the results were pretty good. Adams had at least one sack from right defensive end, and Moore had the best pass rush of the practice that this reporter saw. At the snap of the ball, he chopped the guard's hands away and bolted by him in a blur to get in the face of quarterback Byron Leftwich up the middle. The veteran quarterback was just completing his drop from under center when Moore was on him to get a sure sack in a live game situation.
The Bucs are focused on getting their best pass rushers on the field at the same time. Considering the team did not bring in a proven pass rusher this offseason after Adams led the team with only 6.5 sacks in 2008, it may take some creative measures to get pressure on the quarterback. The Go package should certainly be fun to watch in the preseason, and see if it is as effective as the Bucs think it will be.
2. STYLEZ ISN'T STYLIN' It was somewhat surprising not to hear defensive end Stylez G. White on the Bucs first team pass rushing "Go" package. White has been dealing with some nagging injuries this offseason that were added to by him being in a minor motorcycle accident. White was the Bucs' best pass rusher in the 2007 season when he led the team with eight sacks and seven forced fumbles. Morris said that White is not out of the mix, and is still in the competition.
"Stylez White is the other guy," Morris said. "He has some extremely talented rush from the right side and a guy that can move inside. You got to provide yourself with options. You got more than four snaps a game, and conditioning is definitely a factor when you talk about the big fellas. You want to be able to run those guys into the game and get a pass rush on these great quarterbacks that play in our division. You have guys that have to rush Drew Brees every snap, Matt Ryan every snap, and Jake Delhomme. You got to rush those guys and put hats on them or you're in trouble."
With Quincy Black working with the first team right now at defensive end, White needs to get back on the field in a hurry to make sure he's still in the pass rushing rotation.
3. MOORE CONVERSATION Here is the transcript of a conversation I had with Moore this week. The fourth-round pick out of USC is an intelligent, well-spoken player. Moore being a first-teamer in the "Go" package makes him the leading rookie in this year's draft class to be getting action with the first team. Wide receiver Sammie Stroughter is other rookie who has seen some first-team snaps as the third wide receiver.
PR: How have the OTAs been going for you thus far?
Moore: "It is a big learning experience. I'm getting better every day. I'm learning the schemes and the pace of everything. I'm getting a lot thrown at me. I just really have to focus, and the more I play the better I'll get so I'm just trying to make that transition."
PR: For years the Bucs ran the Tampa 2 scheme, which was similar to the defensive scheme that you guys ran at Southern California. This new defense must be somewhat similar being a 4-3, yet somewhat different because it is not a zone scheme?
Moore: "It was more of a Tampa 2 at SC. This is somewhat similar. It is different terminology and they line the defensive line up in a different way. In some ways it is similar."
PR: On draft day, the Bucs talked about you as a player that could anchor on the left edge of the defensive line and could move inside to defensive tackle on passing downs. It sounds like they have thrust you into that role hear rather than having you learn one position at a time.
Moore: "Oh yeah, I'm in the first 'Go' group at defensive tackle with Jimmy Wilkerson. They have Quincy Black and Gaines Adams out there on the ends. We are putting a lot of pressure out there on the front line. There is a lot of speed out there in that go group."
PR: Some defensive ends have been held back at the NFL level due to not having enough moves to use on offensive tackles. Considering you are versed as a tackle and end, you probably have a variety of moves to put on offensive linemen. Would you consider yourself a pass rusher that has a diversity in the types of rushes you can put on linemen?
Moore: "In the inside, I have to really use my hands a lot faster when they put me in as a three technique on third down passing. I really have to work on my hands and that is what I'm really trying to work on. On the edge, I was more of a quick up and in, you give me a few ways and I can go outside, cut inside, or counter to the inside. I'm really trying to work on my hands to do a lot of ripping, and push-pull type kind of stuff. Stuff that D-tackles do a lot."
PR: You had a strong showing in your week at the Senior Bowl. You also worked with former NFL player Chuck Smith at Defensive Line, Inc. Did Smith get you prepared to have that solid week in Mobile, Ala.?
Moore: "He helped me get ready for that, but I did a lot of that at USC. My junior year I was playing end, and Lawrence Jackson was going in as the three-technique. Than my senior year I was moved to the strong end and I got moved inside (on passing downs). I did pass rushing one-on-ones at my school and that just helped me a lot when I went to the Senior Bowl. Chuck helped me with that at the D-line Incorporated, too. His camp is really there to sharpen your skills. If you don't practice your pass rush skills it is going to look sloppy."
PR: After you were drafted by the Bucs, we spoke with Chuck Smith, and he said he stakes his reputation on you becoming a Justin Tuck-like performer at the NFL level. That is a bold statement, and obviously he thinks very highly of you as an NFL prospect.
Moore: "Of course that means a lot to me. He told me that I could be that [Justin Tuck]-type of a great player. If you can play two positions then you can help your team out in all kinds of situations. That's what he wants. He wants me to versatile with playing on the edge and also on that inside when they need me. Coming from Chuck that means a lot and I thank him for that."
PR: On draft day you said you needed to work on your run defense. How is that progressing thus far?
Moore: "That is going a whole lot better. I think the coaches are pleased. I could do a few things better as anybody could, but I'm getting a whole better at it. They are really teaching me how to play the run. USC did, doo, but [the Bucs] are more detailed. It helps me a lot be out here with the coaches."
PR: Being an end and a tackle I imagine you are working with both Todd Wash and Robert Nunn.
Moore: "Both of them are critiquing me. If I'm playing too high they will let me know. If I'm playing right up on the guy and I'm square and I'm using my hands and my leverage they will let me know that I'm good."
PR: Let's talk about pad level. That is something that you would need to be cognizant of in your run defense being a tall guy.
Moore: "That was the biggest thing – pad level. I'm 6-5. I got to stay low on some guys or they could push me right off the ball."
PR: Lastly, how you do like Tampa, and what new teammates have helped you with the transition to life in the NFL?
Moore: "I love Tampa. Being around here in the facility and getting to know the players, it helps a lot when you have guys like Jimmy Wilkerson, Gaines Adams, and Dre Moore. Taking care and watching out for you, Dre comes over to the hotel and plays video games with me because I'm stuck in the hotel. It helps. Those guys know the situation you're in because they were in the same situation a year ago or so. It helps a lot." 4. JARMON ON THE RADAR Pewter Report has spoken with sources inside the Bucs organization to see if the team has any interest in acquiring Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon in the NFL Supplemental Draft this summer should he come out. Sources indicate the Bucs are considering Jarmon. They are looking into Jarmon's situation, and it sounds as if they are looking more into his off-field activity.
The Buccaneers would do their due diligence on any player that is on the market, but if they looked at Jarmon's tape and didn't like what they saw than they wouldn't bother to investigate Jarmon's conduct off the field.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds wrote about Jarmon in last week's Fab 5, so I won't bother to rehash his college career and why he is missing out on his senior season. I will say that I have watched a lot of Kentucky games the past two seasons, and saw Jarmon in person in the Wildcats' triple overtime victory over No. 1-ranked and eventual national champion LSU in 2007, and went back to Lexington to watch Kentucky in last season's late fourth quarter loss to Georgia.
Against the Tigers, Jarmon did a good job of rushing the passer but the mobile Matt Flynn escaped a few sacks with some nice scrambling. Jarmon was always around the ball in that game, and finished with 10 tackles (six solo). Against Georgia, Jarmon did record a sack and had a good overall game.
In this writer's opinion Jarmon would be worth a third- or fourth-round pick and could combine with Moore and Adams to give the Bucs a young talented defensive end rotation for years to come. 5. PEWTER REPORT IS ON TWITTER Keep in mind that Pewter Report is on Twitter. I'll be posting an OTA observation from last Thursday's practice there for you to check out on Sunday. Click here to find out how to get text message alerts from PR on Twitter. Those text alerts are sent right to your cell phone or mobile device.