Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bull Rush

Cross Posted at joebucsfan


I'll admit that I was more than a little anxious to see the game yesterday. After all the speculation and prognostication we finally got to see the guys in action. I'll start off with some general comments on what I saw and then go player by player with a brief synopsis. Let me know if you like this format or not in the comments.

First off its worth acknowledging that the field conditions sucked yesterday. I know Coach Morris has said he won't let that be an excuse and that's cool because a head coach isn't supposed to allow any excuses. However I've played on that infield and its always an adventure. The plain and simple truth is that its hard to play football in the trenches when you are slipping and sliding in the sand and mud.

Having said that our guys seemed to handle the conditions well for the most part. A couple of times guys got put on skates (*cough* Ryan Sims *cough*) in a double team but aside from falling down there really isn't much you can do about that.

One thing I was impressed with was how we ran to the ball all night long. I didn't see very many loafs from any of the guys who touched the field and several times guys got assisted tackles down the field.

Our pass rush was close to none existent with a few exceptions. The field conditions had something to do with that as did the fact that the Dolphins were keeping six and seven in to max protect at times. Still I would have in general seen more actual pass rush moves made by the group as a whole. Also one group tried a double TEX pass rush game and the timing was just AWFUL. The defensive ends are STILL not setting up the tackles and the defensive tackles aren't penetrating. I swear its not rocket science. I know it was the backups but honestly it looked exactly like how our starters ran it most of last year.

On another note I noticed that we got back to running some line stunts last night. Unfortunately they weren't run correctly several times either. What is supposed to happen is that two guys go inside to penetrate then, once the nose tackle recognizes its a pass he is supposed to cover those two guys who went inside by looping around outside for contain. I don't think that guy who was supposed to loop did so all night. It didn't hurt us against the Dolphins because their quarterbacks aren't especially mobile, but these days that's the exception rather than the rule. We have to fix that or we risk letting quarterbacks escape the pocket and making plays with their legs and or making big plays in the passing game after buying time and allowing their receivers to get open.

One thing that was really impressive to me is that our offense turned the ball over 3 times in the first half and yet the defense didn't give up a score of any kind on those occasions. That's big time when you think about it and the defensive line definitely was a factor in that.

Stylez G. White: Stylez played well and ran to the ball well picking up a couple of assists down the field. I thought he should have tried a few inside pass rush moves as his offensive tackle was setting him for his outside rush. I also thought a few times he drifted up field a little rather than threatening the corner right away on pass rush. He played really well with his hands versus the run.

Kyle Moore: Kyle made several plays in the running game, had a nice hit on the quarterback off a bootleg and he also got his hands on a pass that was almost intercepted by Adam Heyward. Overall it was a pretty good outing to start off the season. Moore needs to work on his get off though. Sometimes he comes off the ball as if he is guessing the play instead of just getting off and adjusting as he goes. It will aid every facet of his game.

The Bucs decided to have a special 3rd down pass rush group again and they moved Moore inside paired up with rookie first rounder Gerald McCoy. I've already stated plenty of times why I don't like that set up and why so I won't bore you with that again. I will say this however, I didn't seem Moore get any pressure from that alignment. Most of the time he was stuck in a "K Lang". If you don't remember a "K Lang" is when a guy gets locked up with an offensive lineman on a pass rush and ends up stuck right in front of them for the most part without getting any penetration or putting any pressure on the quarterback. If Moore was 6 foot 8 and was going to knock down a lot of passes I guess that would be ok but otherwise he will need to get better at rushing the guards for the Bucs to ever hope to justify kicking him inside on 3rd downs instead of just letting him rush from the place where he starts at.

Also another thing I noticed was that a couple off times when they went to this alignment there was no A gap rusher. Both Moore and McCoy ended up rushing in the B gaps leaving both A gaps open. Again this wasn't that big of a deal because the Dolphins quarterbacks were pocket passers. But if that isn't fixed it will come back to bite them big time.

Gerald McCoy: McCoy did some really good things and some not so good things, typical for a rookie. I thought he really did well splitting a few double teams. He did however miss the tackle after he split the double at least once. He also was particularly active in running to the ball. He didn't end up with any stats to speak of but he was hauling ass trying to get there.

One thing he has to work on is a slip block where the guard posts his inside shoulder then continues up to the linebacker and the offensive tackle to that side slips inside and cuts him off from his B gap. McCoy allowed the tackle to cut him off several times last night but luckily the ball didn't end up cutting back into his gap. But trust me on this one, it will. Especially when teams see that he can be cut off on film. I don't know if he needs to line up a little heavier (closer) on the guard or what but the more he shows he can't maintain his gap on that blocking scheme, the more he's assured of seeing it.

On his pass rush the one thing I would tell him is to keep his hands closer together and not reach so much. Coming up playing defensive line in little league on up through college you get taught to reach for the offensive lineman's shoulder pad to make a move. The problem is most of the offensive linemen in the NFL are really good and those moves no longer work. Worse still is when you reach like that you give them your chest to punch. What you really want to do is be able to knock their hands down right in front of your chest since you know that's where they are trying to put them anyway, and continue on your rush. After you've done that a few times they start holding their punch back and THEN you can try swatting the shoulder. But if you never knock their hands down they will just continue to punch you in that bullseye you are putting on your chest.

In fairness McCoy saw the center slide his way most of the night on pass rush anyway. Which brings me to another thing about that third down personnel. It appears that McCoy is going to just stay on the right side regardless of the formation/pass protection. That means if he does become the ferocious pass rusher we all want to see him develop into its going to be very easy for opposing teams to simply slide the center his way most of the time.

If we have another guy whose we're expecting to be as good rushing inside like maybe Brian Price then that's all good because that just means he will tear them up when they single block him. But if not. If Moore is destined to rush inside on third and longs. Then they need to have McCoy moving to the side away from the center slide in the cases where they can identify it. Just my opinion.

Roy Miller: Roy played well in limited action. He looks like he has really improved at splitting double teams and staying low not giving up ground. He had a really nice play on Rickey Williams where he split the double and then made the tackle. That's not something you saw a lot of last year out of any of our defensive tackles. He also had a nice assist running down the field after a quick pass.

He has to be careful though because I saw one play where he crossed the center on a pass rush. It wasn't a pass rush game either and you don't want to have both the A gap and B gap open on one side ever. I know the tendency is to go the route of least resistance but sometimes you simply have to work your own gap even if it seems fruitless so the rush lanes are even and the quarterback can't step up or take off running when someone else gets close to them.

We also ran some zone blitz with Roy in the game where he has to cross the center's face. This can be a perfect opportunity for him to get pressure from the nose tackle position. But he needs to be more sudden in his movements and he needs to gain more ground with his inside step. It would also help to throw his hip into the opposite gap, making it harder for the center to catch up to him and block him after he has already stepped to his initial alignment. We should be getting more out of Miller in that situation in my opinion and putting more stress on the offensive line to block the blitz. Not sure if he has watched any old film but he should try to find some with Brad Culpepper on it because he was great at crossing the center's face and still getting pressure.

Michael Bennett: Bennett had the best game of any defensive lineman last night and it wasn't really close in my opinion. He has the best get off of anybody on the team and he is consistent with it. He had a really nice sack off an inside move from the left side and almost had another hunting down the quarterback on a bootleg. I have been saying that I thought Crowder should be on the left side backing up Moore to give him a run for his money but it turns out Bennett isn't messing around either. I thought he flashed last year with his speed and athleticism but I also thought he was more suited to the right side. I still believe that but he showed last night that he is no slouch on the left side either.

He was also good on the run using his hands well against the Dolphins' tight ends and moving well on a few line stunts and getting penetration making the running backs go laterally rather than downhill. Bennett almost made a helluva tackle for a loss also but just missed the tackle in the backfield. One thing he should work on is ripping off blocks so that he doesn't have to try to attempt so many arm tackles especially when its a tight end blocking him.

The one thing I didn't see coming was how well he rushed inside as a defensive tackle with the second 3rd and long group. He got some good pressure a couple of times and one time he beat two guys in very impressive fashion. Because I have actually seen him make moves and be successful (even though it wasn't against the starters) I wouldn't mind seeing him given an opportunity to rush on third downs if he isn't starting. That way Moore gets to stay outside at left end and get better pass rushing at the spot where he will be playing more than he will playing the overwhelming majority of his reps.

Just a thought.

Tim Crowder: Tim played well as usual. He made a tackle down the field on a draw and he also got pressure on the quarterback from left end on the same play where Moore tipped the pass. He had some good edge rushes from the right end, getting to level of the quarterback just after he released the ball. He at least attempted an inside move but unfortunately it happened to be a time when the center and guard were sliding his way so the guard was there waiting for him.

He, like most of the other guys, needs to work on getting off the ball though. His technique is very sound and he is a very smart player but he is slow off the ball and that gives the offensive lineman a fraction of a second of an advantage.

I think sometimes players get so conditioned not to jump offsides that they end up being afraid to jump the count but you can't let that happen. You want to be disciplined and you don't want stupid penalties but as soon as the ball moves you have to be coming out of your stance. I think maybe Crowder and the others would also benefit from turning their heads in and looking at the ball. Many time nowadays guys are taught to see the ball out of the corner of their eye but that's kinda hard to do with a helmet on. We used to turn in and look at the ball and then change our focus once we got off. Not sure if that would help but it wouldn't hurt to try I wouldn't think.

Ryan Sims: I referenced Sims getting put on skates in the infield but he played decent for the most part. He still has to work on staying lower and getting off the ball but other than that one time he was pretty stout in run defense. And he was good on the line stunts.

The one thing that still drives me crazy about the guy though is that he doesn't punish people with his power on pass rush. You can see him at times pushing guys back to the quarterback but he doesn't seem to want to use a bull rush all the time. If it were me I would tell him to use power until they could stop it providing that when they sat down he ripped off to make the play. He is wayyyy too big to be messing around with finesse stuff but you still see him doing swim moves instead of punching guards dead in their chests.

I still think there is a place for Sims on our roster but he is going to have to start making more plays as the preseason goes on in my opinion.

Dre Moore: Dre had an up and down game. He was pretty good against the run but he also was one of the players who kept forgetting to loop around for contain on the run stunts versus pass. He got a really nice tackle when he crossed the face of the center on a base block. He also had a tipped pass. But then he also was too high on a goal line play and got punched back into the endzone. And he was also stuck in some "K Langs" in pass rush.

One thing is for sure though, he looks much better than he did last year. You can see that he has the ability to play but he has to sharpen up his skills and he has to concentrate on using his technique more than just reverting back to just going off athletic ability at times.

James Ruffin: Ruffin was in with the second 3rd down group and he looked ok rushing at right end. He didn't get any hits on the quarterback but he was coming around the horn pretty good and you could see him working moves. He did miss a tackle however and he got caught peeking inside on a reverse as well. Maybe most importantly he looked like he knew what he was doing every play while he was in.

He was however one of the guys who ran the terrible double TEX game. If anybody reading this sees him scream at him to get his tail up the field and really sell the game before he loops inside instead of being greedy and going early.

Clifton Powell: I had to vote on which guy was most dreading watching film today I would have to go with Powell. He had a rough one last night. He got pancaked twice and even when he managed to remain upright he got pushed around quite a bit. He also tried to do a spin move one time and ended up doing a pirouette right in place instead. And he was also a guy who didn't loop for contain on a line stunt. I don't say any of these things to make fun of him but just to tell the truth. And the truth is if he doesn't get better, and I mean MUCH better, in a hurry know the rest.

Eric Lorig: Lorig had an ok game. He showed a lot of hustle on one play when he ran down the running back across the formation on a run to the right from his left end spot. He also had a nice tackle when he folded inside after taking a zone drop in pass coverage off a zone blitz.

On the downside the ball went through his gap on the TD.  He just played to heavy into the offensive tackle and couldn't get off the make the play.  Oh and he was also the left end running that terrible double TEX game. See also Ruffin.

I also noticed that he had a tackle on punt team which can't hurt for a defensive end. All in all a decent start for the rookie.

Brandon Gilbreaux: Didn't get to see a lot of this guy but I did want to at least acknowledge his magnificent JOP (jump on pile) not long after he checked into the game. I know how it is when you want to get your name on the stat sheet by any means necessary lol.

That's all for this week. Let me know what you think and if you have a question fire away in the comments.

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