Monday, September 20, 2010

Bull Rush

Well what do you know, for at least a few more hours the Buccaneers are in sole possession of first place in the NFC South. Who woulda thunk it?

In fairness some of us did see the potential for this kind of success but none of us really knew how things would work out once the regular season began. Its just great to watch the team performing up to its potential and getting back to what we have come to know as "Buc Ball"

It was particularly gratifying to see us dominate the Panthers, a division opponent, on their home field after so many years when they had dominated us. They showed a shot of the stadium at the end of the game and just seeing all those empty seats made me smile

Having said all that the reality of the situation is that the Buccaneers have beaten two teams that have yet to win a game. That doesn't mean the Bucs aren't good, but on the flip side it doesn't mean they are world beaters either. Even though they won yesterday we still have a lot of things to work on. They continue to let guys get deep on our secondary and just thankfully haven't faced a quarterback that could get the ball to them or the receivers are dropping the passes. Their run defense was good overall yesterday but we had too many missed tackles and gave up several big runs. They ended up with 4 sacks yesterday but at times our pass rush was none existent on early downs. They continue to have busts on blitzes that lead to big plays against us. And up front we have to get better on some details.

The Bucs are going to have to get better if we have any expectations of beating a Steelers team that is also 2 - 0 and is playing some fantastic defense themselves.

Still there was a lot to be excited about. Holding the Panthers to 7 points. Keeping DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart under 100 yards COMBINED. Forcing four turnovers including a turnover on downs after a magnificent goal line stand. And the hustle to the ball was outstanding.

So Bucs fans should enjoy this victory and in fact savor it. Then get ready to give the Steelers hell this Sunday. Only one team is coming out 3 - 0 and it needs to be the Bucs!

Now for the individual breakdowns

Kyle Moore: Moore played ok notching two tackles, a pressure and a fumble recovery by my count. I saw a little more out of him from a pass rush stand point and he had a really good spin right at the level of the quarterback in the second half of the game.

There are two major things I think Moore needs to work on. First and foremost he needs to be more physical on the tight ends. As a starting left end the tight end is going to be on his side the majority of the time. And Moore is definitely strong enough to win the matchups in dominant fashion. Unfortunately it seems like he catches the tight ends block instead of dishing out the blow. The more he gets knocked off the ball the easier it is for opposing runners to get to the corner. It doesn't help that he also starts peeking around the block to try to find the ball.

I always try to tell guys that the blocker will tell them where the ball is or is going to be. You don't have to look for the ball if a tight end tries to cut you off from the gap inside. The ball is going to be inside. You don't have to look for the ball if the tight end tries to block your outside shoulder. The ball is coming outside. The easiest thing to do is just get your hands inside on the tight end and run your feet then depending upon the block rip off to where the ball is going. Or just rip off to your gap. You won't be wrong and you will put yourself in position to make a play instead of allowing yourself to get pushed around.

The other thing Moore needs to work on his is pass rush. Specifically he has to learn when to stop running passed the level of the quarterback and come back to make a play. Too many times he is ending up five or more yards behind the quarterback when the ball is thrown. Its almost impossible to affect the quarterback from that position. At least if you come back to the level you have a shot to get a hand in his face or tackle him should he decide to take off running.

Kyle Moore is a second year player and he didn't play all that much last year so he's still learning and I realize that. But if he just works on those two things I think he will see his productivity go up dramatically in a short period of time.

Gerald McCoy: I had mixed feelings watching McCoy yesterday. On the one hand he was productive with two tackles and two assists along with a quarterback pressure. He really played the slip blocks and double teams well in my opinion. And his effort, as always, was outstanding.

But on the other hand I thought he regressed as far as his pass rushing went. Especially when it comes to pass rushing play action on early downs. Too many times I saw him just running right down the middle of guards with no plan on how to get off the block to try to get to the quarterback. And I saw him in wayyy too many K Lang's* against an offensive line that I thought he would dominate. He also came out of a pirate defensive line stunt instead of staying in the gap and he ran what looked to be a pass rush game with another defensive tackle and instead of looping around the opposite side guard where he likely would have gotten a hit on the quarterback, he stopped in the middle of the game and tried to go back the other day.

Obviously those things didn't hurt us too terribly yesterday, but against a better team it will. On the line stunt and the pass rush game the thing he has to know is that although he might not come free if he runs it right its highly likely that someone else will. But conversely when he doesn't go where he is supposed to be, with violent intentions, he will end up in a situation where he isn't in position to make the play and nobody else is either. And when it comes to pass rushing he just has to be ready every play to make a move. Its not like he can't get good pressure with a bull rush, but for a guy that has his kind of skill and quickness that shouldn't be his signature move.

Now I don't want to come down too hard on him because its not like he didn't play well. But I just have seen what he can do now so that's what I expect every week. And in fact that's what that defense is going to need from him every week in order to be special.

Roy Miller: Roy had a tackle for a loss, two other tackles and an assist by my count. But he also was a little soft playing the double teams yesterday. He is a guy who usually plays with great pad level but for whatever reason he appeared to get high against a lot of those double teams which made it much easier to push him around. Now its not easy holding that point, especially against a team as physical as the Panthers. But that's the job of the nose tackle on this defense so Roy is going to have to figure out away to anchor down in there against the run. He isn't getting any burn on 3rd downs so he is going to have to make his name as a run stopper.

Last week I suggested he tilt a little more to give the offensive linemen less surface to hit. This week I'm going to recommend that he work on being a knee bender and staying low when he feels that double team coming. But I know that's all easier said than done. At the end of the day Miller is going to have to find his own way when it comes to playing those double teams. But one way or another it has to happen because we all know he has a guy breathing down his neck coming off he bench.

Stylez G. White: Stylez had another productive day at the office, this week turning in two tackles, an assist, a sack and a pressure. He is off to a very solid start to the season. He continues to be really technically sound in the run game and physical on his tackles as well. He did however let one running play get outside of him and missed the tackle as he was trying to rally to the ball.

As well as Stylez is playing I think he could be even more productive. So far he hasn't really run many pass rush games on his side on 3rd and long. Some of that is because we aren't always getting four man rush calls on 3rd and long. But still there have been opportunities in both games for him to run an EX or TEX game and he hasn't taken advantage of it. I know some guys just prefer to do one on one rushes and I totally get that. But one thing I have noticed is that offensive tackles are setting Stylez for an outside move now. One way to get them to stop doing that would be to run some pass rush games and give them something else to think about.

Another way to do it, of course, would be to make a....say it with me...inside move. I am going to make this suggestion into I'm blue in the face because I know the impact it can have. If Stylez would just hit a spin move on an offensive tackle early in the game, even if it didn't work, then for the rest of the game that guy is going to have to worry about him doing it again. That means he can't feel as comfortable kick stepping back looking for a speed rush. And conversely it means it will open up the outside rush even more.

One thing I worry about with Stylez is that he doesn't use finesse moves enough. Its not like he isn't strong enough to bull rush and all that, but using those kinds of rushes repeatedly game after game wears your body down, and takes a lot out of you from rush to rush. The reason why making a spin move or for that matter any other quick inside move matters is because when you have an offensive lineman worried about that inside move now you he's not jumping way out for the speed rush and thus you don't have to run into him as much and instead you have the opportunity to run around him.

I know Stylez says he isn't a spin guy but I think if he just tries it out a couple of times early in the game he will see how much easier it makes pass rushing the rest of the game for him.

Tim Crowder: See now this is the Tim Crowder I expected to see in the preseason. Of course in the preseason Crowder wasn't on the left side, but instead the right side. I won't keep beating that dead horse but if you have read my blog any length of time I think you see what I'm getting at.

Crowder hit the Panthers over the head with two sacks, one of which was accompanied by a caused fumble, a tackle an assist and another really good bull rush on a play where the ball was completed. The Panthers came into the game without their starting right tackle and Crowder made them pay for that. He was also stout in the run game as that assisted tackle came on the fourth down play on the goal line where he jacked up the tight end and got a hit on the running back to finish him off after Geno Hayes clipped his ankles. If there was one guy that I was say had the most consistent pass rush all game it would have to be Crowder. The sack he got on the roll out play was just an awesome display of hustle and he was very physical in his hit on the Panthers quarterback Matt Moore.

The question for me is how long can Crowder continue to be this productive, especially pass rushing, and continue to be a back up?

I guess we will all see.

Brian Price: For what ever reason Price didn't play all that much this game. I guess when you aren't in for most of the third down plays and you are a backup to a guy who mostly only plays on first and second down then the numbers are just going to end up that way for now. Still he was productive with limited reps notching two tackles. He also had great penetration on that 4th and goal goaline play which helped to clear the lane for Hayes to come in and hit the running back.

Because we haven't gotten a lot out of Kyle Moore as an inside rusher on 3rd and long I would expect to see Price inserted into those situations going forward. Pairing him and McCoy up inside to pass rush on 3rd downs just makes sense to me and honestly I can't understand why it hasn't happened so far unless maybe Price's hamstring is still holding him back. I just do not believe that Moore is a better interior rusher than Price and I don't think its even close.

But hey just because something makes perfect sense doesn't always mean it will be done does it?

Although one has to wonder how long a high second round pick can only play a handful of plays before someone (maybe the player himself) complains. Id say not very long.

Ryan Sims: Sims also didn't play much. But when he was in the game he was also high and a little soft playing the double teams. Not many reps to go on but I thought he could have played a lot better.

*P.S. - I was so ecstatic to see the defense go back to using six defensive linemen on the goal line I almost didn't know what to do. Last year we kept trying to use five linemen and we kept getting our ass kicked but nobody did anything about it. I wrote so many posts on it that my fingers were about to start bleeding. I'm not saying that because we were successful yesterday that it means we will win on the goalline every time. But I am saying that using six defensive linemen instead of five gives us a hell of a lot better chance at doing so.

1 comment:

  1. Great job Steve.
    Not only did that 6 man front look stout, it was stout. Now I know why you were complaining about the 5 man front, it's because you wanted 6 and not 4. I misread that in previous BullRush columns, but I now understand after sseing the results.
    Go Bucs!!!