Monday, August 23, 2010

Bull Rush

Cross Posted at joebucsfan

The defensive line as a whole performed better against the Chiefs than they had against the Dolphins but there is still a lot of room for improvement in a lot of areas.

One of those areas is ripping off of blockers. Too many times I am still seeing guys trying to make arm tackles with a blocker still on them. This leads to a lot of missed tackles and in some cases some dislocated shoulders. By ripping off of a block a guy gives himself a much better opportunity to make plays and reduces the chances of getting hurt. But in the heat of the moment when you see a guy running through your gap I know guys get excited and forget their technique at times. That's why you have to drill it over and over during the week so that it becomes second nature. Its not just one or two guys either so that's something everybody can work on.

Another area is a pet peeve of mine that it would seem has continued from last year to this year. When we blitz people inside its common sense that the quarterback will try to escape that rush generally by either continuing to backpeddle or by trying to escape outside of the pocket. It is for that reason that the contain rushers on those kinds of blitzes should be hauling ass upfield with their best speed rushes rather than trying to use power rushes of any kind. As a matter of fact, if they can avoid the blockers altogether by running around them, that's what you would usually prefer. But some of the defensive ends tend to get into the blockers too much which not only keeps them from getting to the quarterback when they are drifting back (and when it should be a free shot) but also has the potential of allowing the quarterback to break containment if they take a deep drop and immediately take off running outside to avoid the inside blitzers.

The moral to the story is if you have a lot of people rushing inside of you get your ass upfield.

On the other hand it was encouraging to see quite a few guys really getting after it rushing the passer. We also managed to run the same line stunt from last year a few times and actually get it right. Defensively we showed a little more 3-4 this game to some mixed results especially up front. I'm not totally sure but it seemed at times as if some guys weren't sure which gap they had on run fits. But we did have several defensive ends standing up making plays against the run by folding back inside and even getting good pass drops on occasion.

One last gripe. Too many guys spent too much time on the ground this game. Yes, everybody get's cut and its hard to stay up at times. But you won't make any plays if you keep falling on the ground and it wasn't always due to cut blocks. Guys have to take pride in not allowing offensive linemen to take them to the ground unless they take two guys with them on a double team. Other wise by hook or by crook as defensive linemen they have to work harder to stay upright, especially when the ball ends up coming back into their gaps.

Now for the personal breakdowns.

Kyle Moore: I thought Moore did some good things against the Chiefs. He showed good hustle on the play when he caused Thomas Jones to fumble early on in the game. He also had the best pass rush Ive seen from him so far out of the times when he is lined up inside as tackle. And he showed a lot of hustle every play he was in there.

One area that he needs to improve on however is taking on tight ends in the run game. Moore tends to come off a little soft and catch the blocks which leads to him getting knocked off the ball a bit. Because he's athletic he usually ends up in his gap where he is supposed to be theoretically but because he has given ground it gives the running back an opportunity to get yardage even when everyone else has done their job. Now no defensive end dominates every match up with a tight end but you can't consistently lose ground when they are blocking our defensive ends one on one and expect the defense to work.

Also Moore needs to develop more outside moves at left end. His power rushes and inside rushes are good but at some point when teams notice that he never tries to turn the corner, offensive tackles are going to start sitting on his power and inside rushes and make him try to take the corner. If he can't do it he's going to be in trouble because very few defensive ends in the history of the game have been able to rely almost solely on power rushes and been any good.

Gerald McCoy: McCoy showed a lot of improvement from the last game to this one in my opinion. He played that slip block a lot better. He was also a lot more active in his pass rush. By my count he had at least three legitimate pressures and he almost got his first sack on a play where he got upfield and then came back underneath after he saw the quarterback trying to take off running up the middle. His hands were also a lot better as he kept them closer together which protected his chest from the offensive linemen's punches.

I would say this was a really good building block game for McCoy. He showed a little bit of everything with his pass rush. He had a really good speed rush on a guard to force the quarterback to throw it too early. He showed some good power as well. He even showed a little spin move (which needs some work lol). I think more than anything else though his level of activity was the thing that was most encouraging to me. He didn't accept being blocked at any time and he kept working to beat blocks until the ball was thrown or the whistle blew.

Roy Miller: Roy was a bit up and down this game. He did some really good things like splitting a double team and getting pressure on the quarterback. As well as another time when he got really good penetration and made the tackle. But he was also reached by the center on a play where the running back ended up going through his A gap. He was also on the ground a little more than I'm used to seeing him including one time where nobody actually blocked him but because he was expecting contact he fell down. And of course the ball found his gap that time too. Another time the center scoop blocked him and went up to the linebacker while the guard cut blocked him from behind. I thought for a second that had played the cut block well enough to stay on his feet but all of a sudden the sniper got him.

The one thing that always stands out about Roy is his effort though and Saturday was no different. As long as he cleans up his technique on that reach block and remembers to keep his feet up under him, he will be just fine.

Stylez G. White: I like White as a player and I'm expecting big things from him this season. Having said that now I'll say this, he needs to play better.

Don't misunderstand me, he hasn't played bad. In two games I don't think I have seen him doing something technically "wrong". However we need for Stylez to be a playmaker. We need for him to be the bell cow who leads us to where we want to go. We need him to get after the quarterback from the first whistle to the last. And we need him to make splash plays.

So far that hasn't happened.

Now in the first game the field was definitely a factor and its not like he played a ton of snaps. But yesterday he had opportunities and he didn't really make any big plays. One reason is that he hasn't really made an inside pass rush yet. He kept trying to work the edge against the Chiefs and theres nothing wrong with that. He is after all a pretty good edge rusher. But when the offensive tackles are setting for an outside rush and all but putting a sign up inviting you to burn them inside and you don't at least try once or twice, something is wrong.

Im not saying he has to start spinning every other play like Dwight Freeny, but he has to keep the tackles honest. If not they are just going to keep pushing him by the corner and getting pluses from THEIR coaches.

Stylez did have pretty good pass coverage on a running back and he ended up making the tackle. He also ran to the ball well and showed a lot of hustle. But I expect more and I'm sure his teammates and coaches expect more.

Do I have higher expectations of Stylez? Absolutely. Is that fair? Probably not. But when it comes down to it football isn't fair and he wants to go where he has never gone he is going to have to do some things he has never done.

I look at the Chiefs and I see Tamba Hali giving Donald Penn that work. Hali is trying to go get it this year and it shows. At some point we are going to have to see the same thing from Stylez, and soon.

Michael Bennett: Once again this second year guy stole the show. By my count he had 4 tackles including a sack and a caused fumble. He had one play when he was really physical with the tight end and destroyed him on a base block that was just impressive as hell to me. He also looks a lot more comfortable rushing inside than I thought he would at his size.

Bennett stands out from the other left ends in one important respect. He appears to be able to speed rush from the left side which none of the rest of them seem to do well on a consistent basis. Its not that he's just running around guys either. He really uses his hands well and he has a sneaky long arm move that freezes offensive lineman while he beats them to the quarterback. He even looked good doing his pass drops on some zone blitzes.

All wasn't perfect however as he peeked inside on a running play and got reached, and of course the ball ran right in his gap. He and everyone else has to learn that you simply can not do that in our defense. When you do it screws up everyone else and opens the defense to get hit for a big play. Every play is not your play and sometimes you have to trust that your teammate will do their job while you continue doing yours.

Still the guy has had a pretty impressive two games. I know its just the preseason but I don't think my eyes are lying to me.

One last thing. If its true that the best guys will play then the two starting defensive ends in front of Bennett should feel mighty uncomfortable right now.

Just sayin...

Brian Price: Price finally got some action after being held out with a recurring hamstring injury. It was obvious that he has missed a lot of time though because he never seemed to really get his legs under him. He was on the ground WAYYY too much and generally it was on blocking schemes and against blockers I believe he would normally handle well. But you can't miss as much time as he did and expect to come out killing people. Its going to take him some time to get back right and get used to taking on blockers again but once he does I expect much better play from him.

Ryan Sims: I keep saying the same things but they never seem to change with Sims. The guy is a load and hard to move. When he comes off the ball he generally gets good push up the field. But for whatever reason he seems to refuse to rip off of blocks when he is trying to make a play. Whether it be on a pass rush or versus a run block he always does a gets up field and then just reaches his arm out to try to make a play. And generally it doesn't work out well for him.

He did get two tackles against the Chiefs and he looked good on a couple of line movements, but he would make so many more plays if he just worked on escaping blockers. Or maybe he does work on it but he just forgets to do so when the bullets are flying. Either way he is a guy who could be a pretty good player and definitely could contribute to this team if he just starts doing that one simple task of ripping off of blocks. Of course I've been saying that since last year so I won't hold my breath.

Tim Crowder: This was not one of Crowder's better games. One thing I noticed is that he is starting to stand up when he comes out of his stance which slows down his speed rush. A lot of times guys will do this when they are guessing the blocking schemes or if they just haven't worked on keeping their pads low. What ever the reason may be I hope he works on it because otherwise he is going to continue to look slow coming out of his stance even when he gets a good get off.

Crowder also got put on skates one time by the tight end and tackle and it wasn't pretty. He also got swatted up field a lot farther than he should have on a draw play. One thing you can normally count on with Crowder is really good technique but I didn't see it against the Chiefs. Or rather I didn't see what I am used to seeing from him. He did have a nice speed rush on a third down and he had one tackle by my count. He is another guy who didn't play bad but whom I felt like could have and should have played better.

James Ruffin: I'm smiling while I type this because Ruffin went straight old school on us. You will rarely see a defensive lineman trying to grab an offensive lineman's jersey at the shoulder, pull, and rip or arm over anymore. One of the principle reasons is that most offensive linemen these days have their jersey tailored to where its almost impossible to grab there. Another reason is that when you try to make that move you basically give the offensive lineman a free shot to punch you in the chest.

Well evidently Ruffin didn't get the memo because he used the grab, snatch, and pull technique to great effect against the Chiefs' right tackles. He had at least two pressures, one of which lead to an interception and he was generally unblockable from left end.

No, seriously. Go back and watch it. It was as dominant a pass rushing peformance as I've seen in a long time, even in preseason.

Now obviously I doubt whomever the guy blocking him was will make the Chiefs roster (at least their quarterbacks better hope not) but you can't let that take away from Ruffin's play. He still went out there and beat the guy like a drum over and over and over again.

I gotta tell you, if he is doing well on special teams also Ruffin HAS to be a strong candidate for at least the practice squad. If he keeps that up though there's a chance that somebody else might scoop him up for their active roster. I don't think we have enough room to carry im on our 53 but he is still making the most of his opportunities.

Carlton Powell: Did the Bucs sign a new guy??? I swear man the Powell against the Chiefs looked NOTHING like the guy who got pwned last week against the Dolphins. I don't know who lit a fire under him but the difference was like night and day. He was flying around to the ball. He got a couple of tackles and an assist. He looped around on a pirate for contain like he was supposed to. And it appeared that he ran a TOM game with Dre Moore and ended up getting a pressure on the quarterback.

He wasn't perfect of course (he was still on the ground a few times) but he at least looked like he belonged on the field. He still has a long way to go and its an uphill battle for him but I have to tip my cap to the guy. He went out there and decided that he was not going to look bad on film again. And he didn't.

Dre Moore: After last week I thought Dre Moore had turned a corner and was ready to contend for a roster spot. Then yesterday against the Chiefs he seemed to regress in my opinion.

At first he played ok. Nothing earth shattering but he seemed to be where he was supposed to be. But as he got more and more reps he seemed to shut it down a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he was tired at the end of the game because the Chiefs quarterback was running around a lot and they were throwing a lot of passes. But nobody seemed to be brother in lawing it as much as Moore. I kept waiting to see a get off, a pass rush move, some hustle to the ball. But instead he kept getting worse.

Now look, I know how it is when the monkey jumps on your back. Hell I've been there. But you can't allow fatigue to get to you to the point where it doesn't look like you are even trying anymore. And that, to me, is what Moore looked like at the end of the game.

The plain and simple truth is that that amount of opportunities for a third string guy to impress are extremely limited this time of year and its only going to get worse. Dre Moore had better wake up to that reality in a hurry or he is going to find himself on the outside looking in.

Erik Lorig: Lorig continues to impress me with his effort and ability. He doesn't necessarily look the part but the guy is pretty athletic. Athletic enough that when he was in and the defense ran a 3-4 he was one of the stand up guys. He even made at least one tackle from that position folding inside after taking a pass drop on a draw play.

One of the plays that impressed me most was when he got knocked to the ground on a cut block but got up immediately and got in on the tackle on the running back.

He played more on the right side this week instead of the left and while he played ok from there his pass rushing needs a lot of work from that side. He pass rushed one time from the stand up 3-4 position and ended up going inside and losing contain on the quarterback who ended up taking it outside for a nice gain.

I don't know how many defensive lineman we are keeping this year but it would seem like Lorig is going to have a hard time making the active roster. Still he should be a prime candidate for the practice squad where he can develop a little while longer.

That's all for now. Hope everyone enjoys the breakdown. See you in the comments section.


  1. Great reading, Mr. White! Again, appreciate the unique insight you bring to the Bucs d-line. I'm nervous about a couple of our d-linemen making it to the practice squad, hoping they don't get cherry-picked away.

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  3. I'm going to dispense with the usual complimentary prose and simply say that I would pay to read an article like this and feel happy about it later.