Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Difference

I have to keep saying this, this blog was meant to be pretty much a hobby of mine. I had no reason to believe anybody would care about what I had to say about sports in general and the Bucs in particular. So the interest that I have drawn truly humbles me.

Having said that, there are some fans who think that I have some kind of ulterior motives. I have a feeling that they aren't feeling what I say on this blog because for the most part I give substantive critiques instead of broad (and usually wrong) generalizations. See when you speak in specifics a lot of the times the media narratives they normally hear don't fit. So all of a sudden I am covering for the defensive line or I am just trying to get some notoriety when the truth is like I said before this was all a hobby for me.

But here is the thing, I haven't actually been factually wrong about anything all year. I know this because I actually watch and rewatch all the Bucs games before I decide to offer my assessment. I highly doubt any of the chattering classes around here do that listening and reading some of what they have to say. If they do then either they don't really know football or they are intentionally misleading their fans in order to further some other agenda.

However this blog is about what God loves, the truth. Doesn't matter really to me if people believe me or not, like I told a commenter yesterday all I can do is argue with facts. After I do that I can't make anyone accept those facts but at least I will have exposed them to them.

Now here is the narrative you will hear all week about the Bucs. That they are in disarray after essentially firing Jim Bates. That they never gave Bates the players he needed for his defensive scheme. That we really don't have any play makers on defense. And that this change won't really make much of a difference.

So here is what I think about those memes. First of all, yes firing both the offensive and defensive coordinators in the same season is a bad sign. I can't defend it and I don't know that anyone should. But I will say this, something had to give. And honestly, although I would never call for Bates to be fired I would almost bet that the only reason he lasted this long was because the Bucs didn't want to fire him after firing their OC Jeff Jadgozinski right before the season started. Whether this means the team is in disarray will be seen in the final games.

As for not providing Bates the players he needed, yeah I have said for the past few weeks that what we brought in here in the draft this year versus what Bates said he needed for his defense did not line up. Neither did trying to switch Jermaine Phillips from safety to outside linebacker. But here is my thing on that, as a coordinator you have to be able to adjust your scheme to the players you have, especially in the pros. Every year people lose big time players on offense and defense. So lets imagine for a second that the Bucs brought in two big tackles and two big linebackers to fit Bates scheme. What happens if those guys get hurt during the middle of the season? The NFL is set up where you are only going to have so many big time guys because of the salary cap. If your coordinator on offense or defense can't adjust their scheme to their talent level then you will always be one or two injuries away from disaster.

As for talent level I will say again that we have enough talent to win. Not all of the guys on our defense are guys I personally think would be starters in the NFL but that doesn't mean we can't win with them. Lets take a trip down memory lane. In the year the Bucs won the Superbowl one of their starters and best players on defense, Booger McFarland, got hurt. We had to go down the stretch run through the playoffs and into the Superbowl with a guy most people never heard of, Chartric "Chuck" Darby, as our starting nose tackle. Here was a guy who wasn't drafted and had played in the World League before signing with the Bucs. And yet he still played well and we did go on that run and we did win the Superbowl.

It ain't always about the big name guys. Its about how they fit in your scheme.

As for whether this will make a change on defense, absolutely it will. The one thing that I am worried about the calls Coach Morris will make at crucial times. I haven't seen him in that situation so I am not sure how that will go. But I am telling you right here and now that our defense will show a marked improvement on Sunday against the Falcons if they truly go back to our old scheme with the weak tackle lined up over the center and at times running an under defense with Quincy Black on the line over the tight end. If you see those things happening on Sunday you will see our stats improve. Basically the thing about it is there were small adjustments Bates had every opportunity to make all year but never made them.

I know most sports pundits around here won't take the time out to actually attempt to explain what the specific problems on our defense were, but I don't work that way. I am not just going to say this group or that group is the problem or this player or that player is the problem...unless they ARE the problem. I will give you one prime example in closing.

Today on the radio I heard some very popular sports guys say, loudly, that the Bucs didn't have any hurries against the Saints. Now I like both of the guys who said this but that doesn't mean they know what they are talking about. The Bucs actually had 6 hurries. First let me make sure you know what a hurry is. A hurry is when someone hits or gets close to hitting a quarterback which either makes him throw the ball away or affects the throw and ends up in an incomplete pass. The truth is we could have had a couple of other hurries but for the fact that Brees still found a way to complete the pass even with someone bearing down on them.

As for the hurries we did have, Greg (Stylez) White had 3, one of them on a great spin move when he hit Brees right in the kisser. Jimmy Wilkerson had 2, one of them on a 3rd and 5 in the first half when he was rushing the guard and made a really nice rip move. And Roy Miller had 1 where he beat a double team on an early down and got right in Brees' face.

Now would I have liked to have had more hurries? Hell yes. I would have also liked to have some sacks too. But still you have to admit that 6 is a lot more than 0. And for someone who wants to argue with me that we didn't have any hurries they are going to have facts.

*Kanye Shrug*

Anyway, I advise all Bucs fan to at least stay on board or get back on board for this weekend and check the defense out against Atlanta. I am not saying we will win, and I am not saying we will be perfect. But what I AM saying is that you should see a noticeable improvement.

It is what it is.


  1. Don't worry about the haters, just keep posting. I love the in-depth analysis after the games. Keep it coming.

  2. ^ Agreed...Let the haters hate...that's their job...Keep them busy!

    LOL @ *Kanye Shrug*

  3. Hey Steve,

    Keep doin your thing. Question: Do you think a scheme would work that's essentially the Tampa 2, but bringing in a space-eater at Nose?

    It seemed to me the reason they wanted to change defensive systems was because we weren't stout against the run anymore. A big body in the middle to command double teams on a consistent basis should remedy that. I was never a fan of Bates' system even before he got hired (look at Denver's D since he's left).

    Keep up the solid work SGW!

  4. ...I understand the Tampa 2 needs a strong rush from the front four, but on short yardage and other typical running situations, it's pretty obvious you need a (Gilbert Brown) type to blow up double teams and allow the backers to penetrate without worrying about shedding blocks.

    How were we able to do this during our Super Bowl run when we lost Booger and Chuck came in? If my memory serves correct, he was a bit undersized.

  5. It's gotten to the point where I'd like to see this whole thing blown-up and rebuilt. It's just beyond ugly. Somehow I don't think much of what has gone on this year has been part of THE PLAN we've heard Rah and Dominik refer to so often this year. Start with a proven GM (I do like Mark as a Pro-personnel type though) who knows how to develop a franchise from the ground up. We've already dismantled it, now we need a proven builder.

  6. Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement. One thing you can be assured of is that I will keep on blogging and keep on telling the truth even if I am the only one saying it.

    @both Anonymous commenters (you guys can feel free to leave a pseudonym or something just so I can have a name of sorts to address)

    We don't need a big nose tackle in Monte's scheme to be successful. As a matter of fact out of all those years of us being in the top 10 in defense we never actually had a really big nosetackle. We had guys like Brad Culpepper, Booger McFarland, Chartric Darby, and then Chris Hovan. None of those guys are big like Gilbert Brown and yet we still had success because its essentially a one gap defense. We don't need the nose to blow up double teams. We need them not to get pushed off the ball on the double team and stay in the A gap in case the ball runs there. If our Middle linebacker comes down hill through the opposite A gap on the run, we don't have that problem anyway.

  7. Only a year ago we had a top run D



  8. Loving the blog, Steve. You're doing a great job of getting me my fix of Bucs material during these tough times as a fan. It's badly needed right now. Thank you.

    Looking forward to watching for those changes on Sunday.

  9. JoeMurgia stole my thunder. Great job! Keep on posting them Steve, you're blog is beginning to be a must see several times a day! Good insight and personal responses to questions and comments is unheard of in the NFL Blog world.

  10. see! They're are def a lot of fans out that that want the "truth". just ignore those that don't, it seems to me that the haters are loud while the people who read and like your articles keep postin comments like those above. just ignore the idiots and keep us happy. lol i ono what else to say.

    on a side note: what you think of the saints in comparison to the rams team you guys played in 99?

  11. This is one great read Steve! Now this is the type of personality that the sports world here in the tampa bay area should be hearing ona daily basis and is what i have been trying to tell people the whole season. You get more plays in the backfeild in a one gap defense because the LB can play More agressive and go and hit the whole instead of reading and waiting for the RB . They have an assingment 1-gap go hit that gaop and blow up anyone who is in it period. In a 2 gap the 4 DL are eating up the gapo and the lb are sitting back and waiting to see where the back is going to pop out then hitting the line. I think we should see something better this week! Great read Steve and pz

  12. Thanks guys for the support. Again I am just having fun with this and I am glad you guys like what I am doing. As a heads up I will have another post on joebucsfan either tonight or in the morning. I wrote it earlier today and I think it will stir the pot a little but most folks will like it.

  13. Excellent post; and just ignore the fans who echo the ESPN talking heads -- they're the people who think Tanard Jackson is a good run-support safety and Chris Hovan "doesn't do anything" because of his low sack totals.

  14. Steve, thanks for this blog. I have been a "fan" critic of the D for lack of knowledge and don't mind admitting it at all.

    I am not really to sure I like going back to the Tampa 2 because it seems the players needed to be great are being drafted by so many other teams now also running it, that it may have been time to go another direction on D.

    I hope you are right about the improvement, but I just have seen this D get shredded by great QB's so many times, and even the time-frame you were playing the run D would at times be burned up the middle in the 4th qtrs.

    The tackling this year has been frustrating the entire game, not just when the D is worn out by the 4th q. To me it seems a lack of committment by players. Myabe you have hit on this in the blog before, but what is the problem with tackling?

    Please keep up the great work, and expand as much as possible in the future.

  15. And Mr. White was absolutely correct....at least for one week. Nice blog, btw! I look forward to checking this out.

  16. Looking forward to the Bull Rush for this week. Forgot to thank Joebucsfan also for getting this blog out there.

    I would have liked to have seen that D against NO, not that the scoreboard would have been different, but would have given the young players a look at a great Offense, and experience for the future.

    Go bucs, and the Cowboys(not easy to say, but will hope they play good for ya Steve)