Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Buccaneer Wish List For The Off Week

I am going to go through some of the things I hope the Bucs can get done during their off week in order to get some wins in the second half of the season. Some of it will be about specific players, some of it will be about scheme and all of it will be kind of random but I think if we can get at least some of this done then we may have a chance of at least pulling out of the cellar by the end of the year.

1. Keep Josh Johnson at quarterback. I realize that Johnson has regressed some in the past few weeks but he is our best option right now. Bringing Josh Freeman in at this point offers little to no upside for the team. For him to make even the slightest bit of difference so much would have to change over all for the team that in my mind it would make it close to impossible for him to have success. The word miracle comes to mind. So as crass as it sounds if you are going to have a quarterback go through this miserable of a season it might as well be the guy that you see as the present not the guy you see as the future.

2. Give Josh Johnson a better chance to succeed. It is now time for us to adjust our game plan to fit the talent that we have and the talent that we don't have. For one we should be totally committed to running the ball and by committed I mean in almost any game no matter what the circumstances we should be running the ball well over 50% of the time. With our offensive line this should put us in position most of the time to be in manageable 3rd down situations and if we can get teams to have to commit more people to stopping the run then play action pass gains a higher probability of success.

We should almost NEVER be lined up in a shotgun formation unless its a 3rd down situation. Lets put Johnson under the center and make teams guess what is coming.

Lets start throwing a lot more screens of all kinds. Antonio Bryant and Sammie Stroughter and even Michael Clayton are all strong run after the catch guys. The problem has been getting the ball to them downfield where they can work. Eliminate that problem but throwing them quick screens and smoke routes so they have the ball in their hands in a position to make something happen. With teams blitzing Johnson so much screens have a very good chance of exploiting man to man coverage. We should also be running screens with our running backs and tight ends as well. Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward, and Earnest Graham are all good receivers out of the back field and can make things happen if they have green grass in front of them. The same can be said for Kellen Winslow who for all intents and purposes is a big wide receiver. Throwing screens also will help Johnson because now he doesn't have to try to read the coverage as much and its defined from the snap where the ball is supposed to go.

We also should be running a lot more bootlegs. Put Johnson in a position where he can make yards with his arm or his legs and put pressure on the opposing teams' defensive ends to be disciplined enough to not chase the running back. Eventually you will put those guys in a tough position and it will also open up cut back lanes for the running game. Before the season there was a lot of talk about implementing a variety of bootlegs and in the preseason we saw it a lot with Luke McCown. But after Byron Leftwich won the job his lack of foot speed pretty much took them out of the game plan. Well we have a guy with major wheels at the helm now, and its time to put them back in to get him away from the blitzes and pass rushes.

3. Greg (Stylez) White needs to develop a spin move. White is a really good speed rusher and uses his hands really well against offensive tackles, but he gets run by the quarterback a lot. Many times this is a function of the opposing quarterback stepping up in the pocket and none of our inside guys being there to make the sack. If White were to stop about a step deeper than the level of the quarterback, get low and take a hard step with his inside foot, swing his outside arm around and pivot inside he would be right there to make a lot more sacks. I like the hump move that he uses at time but its not really a good counter move for his speed rushes. Rushing from the right side means that a lot of the time the B gap to his side will be open because most teams normally have their formation strengths to the defense's left the majority of the time. For that reason there is a natural lane that most quarterbacks are going to step up into. If he can develop that spin move this week and is able to start mixing it as a late counter off his speed rush it will be like taking candy from a baby and our pass rush over all will significantly improve.

4. Sit Jerramy Stevens down. I don't know what is going on with the guy this year but he is hurting, not helping the offense. Right now we need guys who are giving their best efforts and I just don't see it from him. Like I have said before, John Gilmore may not have as much talent but he for damn sure has more want to right now and I will take that any day.

5. Keep Jimmy Wilkerson in on 3rd downs. It is apparent that the defensive coaching staff will continue to kick Wilkerson inside on 4 man rushes on 3rd downs. I still don't agree with it but it is what it is. But I think Wilkerson has earned the right to be on the field on 3 man rushes. It doesn't make any sense to take the guy out of the game who is leading your team in sacks to put in a guy who doesn't have even one.

6. We need to go back to playing under defense and having Quincy Black up on the line over the tight end, especially on running plays. This at the least gives the opposing offense another look to have to try to scheme up and block. And it also opens the door to adding more blitzes where Black gets to rush from the outside. We have been told all off season that Black is a good pass rusher. Well through the first 7 games I don't think we have even blitzed him any more than 10 times total. And when we have most of the time it has been sending him up inside. Line him up outside the tight end and give him a chance to speed rush for a change.

Lining up in under defense also helps the defensive linemen away from the strong side. By having the tackle away from the tight end lined up in a 3 technique (outside shoulder of the guard) paired up with a defensive end who now doesn't have to deal with a tight end, you create a situation where you have two guys who have a head start on play action pass. Both guys can get off the ball hard and really get up field because most offenses won't have a lot of schemes that lend themselves to blocking those two guys in any complex fashion just because of their alignment.

7. Get Matt Bryant back here so we can finally have confidence kicking field goals. I don't know if UFL guys can get signed away to NFL teams yet but this needs to happen like yesterday.

8. Ryan Sims needs to commit to bullrushing and escaping on play action pass. Sims is a big strong guy and he gets great push on the guards when he wants to, but since the beginning of the season for some reason he has become more of a finesse guy on play action pass. He should get back to coming off hard and pushing guys back. Then he needs to work on ripping off the block at some point. In the run game Sims is really good at escaping off blocks to make a tackle, but on pass rush he gets stuck to guys looking in the backfield at the quarterback. He needs to concentrate more on the guy in front of him, escape off that block and then try to get some pressure or a sack. He has the ability to do so and its just a matter of him doing it.

9. We have to scrap this ridiculous short yardage and goalline alignment. Evidently Jim Bates was trying to reinvent the wheel or something. Ok well he had his shot now its time to get back to what is tried and true. Put four defensive linemen in the A and B gaps and put two other guys whether its linebackers or defensive ends on the outside shoulders of the tight ends in the D gaps/contain. Get three animals at linebacker and Tanard Jackson and Aqib Talib and lets ride. It ain't rocket science and it for damn sure works.

10. When will we start seeing some trickeration? I realize we had a flea flicker dialed up in the past game but at this point we need to be pulling out all the stops. Where are the reverses? Where are the fake punts? Where are the Wildcat plays? We need some damn innovation to at least light a spark and get the crowd into the game. I mean seriously, at this point, what do we have to lose?

Well these are the areas where I think we can do some different things to take this team in a different direction. I don't know how much if any of this will actually get done by the Bucs this off week but a guy can hope can't he?

I am sitting here with my fingers crossed because its starting to get hard to watch...


  1. Excellent post ; may God be with us in what is turning out to be a nightmare season.

  2. Thanks to just found your blog and will read it religiously. I've enjoyed you on JBF and look forward to reading all of it here. Thanks for your candid analysis.

  3. As usual,Steve breaks it down for all to understand.Hey White!You've had a permanent place in my heart since your pick in the NFC championship game against St.Louis.when Bucs settled for three ,I knew we were in trouble.Too bad ,that team (defense)should have brought Tampa our first Super Bowl.

  4. Steve,
    Your analysis is excellent. I like your takes on Wilkerson, Black and Matt Bryant. Thanks, and keep it up!

  5. Thanks guys I really appreciate all the feedback!