Friday, October 29, 2010

Bright Idea

This is just a quick suggestion.  With Brian Price out again this week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should consider allowing Roy Miller to move over to undertackle when Ryan Sims comes in and letting Sims stay at nosetackle whenever he is in the game.  Roy is quicker off the ball and has better pass rush skills, while Sims is a bigger body and holds the point at nosetackle pretty well.
It would seem like a no brainer to me.

Opportunity Knocking For James Lee

Bucs right tackle Jeremy Trueblood, who has missed practice with a knee injury, will not play Sunday against the Cardinals or travel to Arizona with the team. James Lee will start in his place.


Frequent readers of this blog know that since the preseason I have been singing the praises of Buccaneers offensive tackle James Lee. Here's something I wrote about him after the 2nd preseason game.

- I couldn't give James Lee a good this week because he was beaten a couple of times on pass rush. But the more I see of the guy the more I like. He actually reminds me of Penn in that he has a nasty streak. You see him blocking guys all the way across the formation. Pass blocking that is. Other times you see him finishing guys off with pancake blocks. I have a feeling that we will see more of him in the years to come.

Last week when Lee came in for an injured Jeremy Trueblood he looked exactly as I described in the preseason. You saw him trying to finish guys on every play and he locked down Rams left end Chris Long, who had a sack and other pressures earlier in the game, when he pass blocked him. He did however have a very stupid penalty and of course he did come in at the end of a game presumably fresher than his opposition.

Still it got me excited to see him playing the mean and nasty style that we need out of our right tackle while still being athletic enough to block a good pass rusher.

This week against the Arizona Cardinals, he has a prime opportunity to make himself some money and perhaps lock down a permanent starting role on the offensive line. That's because for most of the game Cardinals Pro Bowl defensive end Darnell Dockett will likely be lined up across from him. So far this season Docket only has 1 sack but he is a relentless player who beats up on offensive linemen and tries to physically dominate them. It actually should be a battle of force against force as I don't expect either guy to give an inch.

But if Lee can come out of this game having gotten the better of Dockett I think the Bucs will have to take a long look at allowing him to continue to start, especially if he stays away from the penalties. I think for a couple of years now the Buccaneers would have replaced Trueblood had they had anyone on the roster who was good enough to do so because of all of the stupid penalties he commits. Lee could give them the plan B they have been looking for.

If there was ever a time I would expect to see a very motivated James Lee it would be this game. Opportunity is knocking, the question is if he will answer the door.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Your Week Seven Leader

With a really strong week fatmosh vaulted all the way into second place. I, on the flip side, second guessed all of my picks on Sunday morning and went down in flames and am now behind someone that goes by the handle "Butt Water Drinkers".

Im so ashamed lol

Once again make sure to get your picks in today!

Always Check The Source

Blogs have become an integral way in which many people get their information. As a blogger I think that's a wonderful thing. Nowadays just about anyone can add their voice to just about any conversation about any topic with a blog. That means that more people are being heard and more opinions are being voiced.

But blogs can also be tricky at times. Because blogs tend to blend opinion with fact a lot of the time its hard to actually separate the two. That's made doubly hard when the blogger doesn't go out of their way to make a clear distinction themselves. For that reason its always important that when there are source links to the information the blogger is writing about included in the post or that can be found with search engines that lead you to the source material, readers should ALWAYS check it out for themselves. Its not necessarily that the blogger is trying to trick or mislead their audience, but at times they will allow their personal feelings or how they interpret the source material to color their posts. And that can in turn give their readers a much different impression of what happened or what was said than they would have had themselves when exposed to the same information.

Now obviously this isn't coming out of the blue. Here's the deal, for two weeks now there have been posts about different Buccaneers who went on Total Access after the games and I don't think either post accurately captured what they said. Geno Hayes was on and the impression given was that he was defensive about the notion that our defense played soft against the New Orleans Saints. Well here is the link to that interview.

Geno on Total Access

Did Geno say the defense didn't play soft? Absolutely he did. But it was in the context of explaining what DID happen. And if you read my blog posts I pretty much agree with him that the problem was more about guys not being in their gaps and being on the details than it was about anybody getting pushed around aside from Roy Miller. But what's more important is the interview in full. Not only was Geno NOT defensive, he repeatedly accepted responsibility about their poor performance and repeatedly promised that it would get fixed. And that includes when angry callers were getting after him pretty good. He had every opportunity to get defensive or act offended but I didn't hear any of that in the interview.

Did you?

The second incident is a post that inferred that Jeremy Zuttah said that the Bucs were running a lot of zone plays in the first half against the Rams but that at halftime they made adjustments and stopped running zones and started running other plays.

Well here's the link to that interview.

Zuttah on Total Access

On this one there really is no grey area. Zuttah tells Dave Moore repeatedly that there weren't ANY halftime adjustments and that guys just played better in the second half and were more on the details. And the truth is if you watched the game more than once you would notice that we didn't run the zone plays any less in the second half than we did in the first half. Overall the game plan was better because in BOTH halves we went more with power Os, ISOs and split bellies than we had in previous weeks and in BOTH halves we didn't run as much zone as we had in previous games.

Now the quote attributed him, which was accurate, was about how the Bucs prepared during the week to play the Rams. They decided BEFORE the game to add a little more to the running game to give them a better chance of success. One of those additions was the running play I drew up last week that the Saints ran so well on us and that the Carolina Panthers copied from them where the tight end bows outside to get the end up the field and then the fullback comes and kicks him out. They ran it and had some success with it which was good to see.

Let me say this, I am calling this out because I think its starting to become a recurring problem and people may be getting the wrong impression about some things that are being said.  Also I'm calig it out because I keep getting asked questions about what I see as erroneous impressions people have based on those posts. But by no means does that mean I'm perfect or exempt. You should ABSOLUTELY click on every source link I put in any blog post to keep me honest and if there isn't a source link you should be googling or binging or whatever to make sure you get to form your own impression about what I'm speaking on. And while my focus today is on blogs, the same applies for online editions of print media as well.

NOBODY is perfect and we can all subconsciously interject our own prejudices into any story without meaning to. That's why its on you as the reader not to ever just take anything for granted. It doesn't matter if it's your favorite blogger or someone you hate, if there is source material out there do yourself a favor and expose yourself to it for your own piece of mind.

By the way, for all Bucs fans you should note that all of the shows like Total Access, Coach Morris' show, and Gerald McCoy's show that air on 620 are also archived on so if you miss them you can go back and listen to them. So if there is every a quote that arises out of one of those shows that you want to check you can always do so.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Normally I would go right into the categories of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly but I wanted to start the post off this week with somewhat of a reality check. We have all heard about how young the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are compared to the rest of the NFL but sometimes that measurement can be deceiving. It could be that you have a team with veteran starters but a bunch of rookies and young guys as back ups to skew the average. Coming out of the preseason we pretty much knew for sure that the Bucs would have two rookie starters in Gerald McCoy at undertackle, and Mike Williams at receiver which in and of itself could make a coach nervous. But lets talk about the starters in the game on Sunday. In addition to McCoy, you had rookie Cody Grimm starting for the third time after Pro Bowl caliber free safety Tanard Jackson was suspended for the year. In addition you had E.J. Biggers, a second year player who didn't play a down last year, starting as the nickle back. They also had Kyle Moore another second year player starting at left end and second year player Roy Miller starting at nose tackle.

On the other side of the ball in addition to Mike Williams they had Arrelious Benn start for the first time opposite him at the other wide receiver spot. The slot receiver position was manned by second year player Sammie Stroughter. The Bucs also started rookies Ted Larsen at left guard and Erik Lorig at fullback. And of course while rookie running back LeGarrette Blount wasn't listed as the starter, he got the majority of the carries on Sunday as well. And even though he is playing far beyond his years so far we can't forget that Josh Freeman is still a second year player as well.

Even our punter is a rookie.

And that's not even talking about our backups.

Add that up and 12 out of the starting 22 players on offense and defense have less than a full two years in the NFL. And remember that two of those guys weren't even on our team until after the preseason ended.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a BIG deal.

The fact that we are 4-2 right now says a lot not only about front office the past two years but also the coaching. Don't get me wrong, I have and will continue to be critical of some of the coaching decisions made in the first 6 games. After all there are always areas of improvement. But you HAVE to give credit where credit is due in this situation. Look around the NFL and you would be hard pressed to find another team starting that many guys with less than two years experience having success let alone only having two losses. Now the two losses were definitely ugly, there is no doubt about that. But the four wins were pretty awesome when you factor that in.

It remains to be seen how successful the Bucs will be with their remaining schedule but so far I would have to say they are out performing most people's expectations heading into the season.

Now on to my observations.

The Good

- Josh Freeman: You just can't say enough good things about the guy. He continues to be clutch in the fourth quarter of close games and he never seems to lose his confidence no matter what the conditions during the course of a game. He threw a couple of balls that were almost picked off but you didn't see him shy away from sticking the ball into tight spaces in big moments. His numbers didn't jump off the page this game but one thing did, this guy just knows how to win. No interceptions and some huge runs to pick up first downs win the protection broke down. Its pretty apparent at this point that Freeman is the franchise quarterback that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been looking for for a very long time.

- Ronde Barber: Ronde does so many things for the Bucs that its easy to over look him at times when he isn't getting picks. But he literally lined up as a linebacker several times in nickle on Sunday and he ended up with 7 tackles and 5 assists by my count. He also had a pressure coming in on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford on a blitz. Even as the elder statesman of the Bucs, Ronde continues to go out there and make plays all over the field every Sunday. And he was a big reason why we won the game.

- LeGarrette Blount: Blount had a very impressive debut as the featured running back for the Bucs. The fact that he gained 72 yards on just 11 carries is impressive, but even doubly so when you factor in the long runs he had that were called back due to penalties. And he even had a pretty good blitz pickup.

Now realistically the Rams were pretty basic on defense and the offensive line opened up huge holes that we hadn't seen in previous games so we can't assume that Blount will have the same kind of success the rest of the way. But if he can. If he can go out there and give us 70 or 80 or even 100+ yards the rest of the way our chances of winning will go up significantly.

- Stylez G. White: Coming off a Saints game where his improved pass rush was overlooked by the demoralizing lopsided loss, White continued to show improvement against the Rams. You can check out my critique of Stylez and all the other D Linemen in my Bull Rush column.

- Cadillac Williams: I know some fans are ready to discard Caddy in favor of Blount and it does look like Blount is going to be the man carrying the load for the foreseeable future. But its important to note Caddy's contribution to the win against the Rams. It wasn't just that he caught the game winning touchdown, but also he was the guy who made several catches right before half time that helped us move the ball down the field and get in position for a field goal which cut the lead to 17-6 at intermission. Because the game was decided on a single point his contributions on that drive are magnified. He ended up with 8 catches and I would say that's pretty damned good for a guy that most people said couldn't catch just a few years ago. He also had a key run for a first down on 3rd and 3 on the game winning touchdown drive to keep the drive alive.

I don't know what his role will be going forward but we aren't a better team with out him.

- Mike Williams: Williams continue to make the case for being the steal of the draft. With his 5 catches for 82 yards on Sunday he now has 28 catches for 365 yards and 3 touchdowns for the season so far. The Bucs aren't even half way through their schedule and he has almost as many catches and yards as our leading receiver last year. The play that he made on the catch at the end of the game moving the ball to just shy of the endzone showed off his impressive combination of speed, quickness and strength. He has seemed to have picked up a nasty fumbling habit which needs to get fixed ASAP but aside from that he has been everything the Bucs could have asked for and then some.

- Kellen Winslow: K2 had one of the biggest plays of the game with his catch for a conversion on 4th and 3 on the game winning drive. I know other tight ends get a lot more hype than Winslow but I can't think of another guy I would want on my team if we HAVE to have a first down.

- James Lee: I don't know how severe Jeremy Trueblood's injury was on Sunday but he might want to familiarize himself with the story of Wally Pipp. I have been shouting out Lee since the preseason because he is the perfect combination of athletic and mean in my opinion. He doesn't just try to block guys, he tries to dump them on their head! You saw it early on in the game when he came in to play tight end for a few plays. And you saw it after he came in for Trueblood at the end of the game. Lee did have that stupid penalty for jumping on the pile and that is simply unacceptable. But he moves people in the run game and he also shut Chris Long down on pass rush after he had given Trueblood fits for most of the game.

Now I don't really believe that the Bucs would replace Trueblood at the moment if he is ready to play. BUT if he can't go this week against Arizona and Lee ends up starting and turning in another strong performance the move could end up being a permanent one. Trueblood did have a stupid penalty of his on after all which negated a long run by Blount. And the truth of the matter is I'm not so sure that Lee isn't the better player hands down. Its a situation that is worth watching over the next few weeks. One thing is for sure, the Bucs now have to have some confidence in Lee that they may not have previously had.

- Connor Barth: After a rough day against the Saints Barth bounced back to go 4-4 on field goals including a 53 yarder as well as making all his extra points. Its easy to overlook how important he has been to the Bucs success but just look around the NFL at teams that lose because of poor kicking every week. Better yet just think back to last year before we had Barth and the Redskins game where with better kicking we had a legitimate chance to win. If he doesn't have any more blips like he had against the Saints Barth may well get a Pro Bowl nod at the end of the year or at least serious consideration.

The Bad

- Aqib Talib: Its not that Talib gave up a lot of passes to the guy he was covering and he didn't give up a bomb against the Rams like he did in previous weeks. But down at the goal line he had two separate opportunities for interceptions and dropped both of them. By no means were either one of them an easy play but for a guy with his talents he has to come up with at least one of them. Especially because the Rams went on to score touchdowns on both drives. To be considered one of the best cornerbacks in the game you have to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. That is how Talib has to be judged at this point and he didn't get the job done in that regard on Sunday.

- Sean Jones: If you would have told me before the game that our starting Strong Safety would only have 1 tackle and 1 assist against the Rams and running back Steven Jackson I would have told you that you were nuts. But that's exactly what happened. I can't say that it all falls on Jones though because one thing that I've noticed about our defense is that they rarely line up our safties in the box when we want to have an 8 man front. Instead the safties usually roll into the box on the snap. I understand the need to disguise the coverages at times but I'm not a fan of doing it as much as the Bucs do it because I think it makes it harder for the safties to get their correct run fits on the run. But even having said that I just don't understand how Jones could be that invisible against a running back that went for over 100 yards on us.

Some how, some way that has to change right away.

- Michael Bennett: I have been a Bennett fan and I still am but he had a very forgettable game on Sunday. Again you can check out my Bull Rush column for the details but to put it short and sweet he needs to pick it up if he expects to continue getting playing time.

The Ugly

- Penalties: 12 penalties for 92 yards is unacceptable and losing football. The Bucs were able to over come them against the Rams but just barely. That can't happen against a better team or they will get embarrassed. As I pointed out they have a lot of young starters on the team but at this point there are no excuses. It hasn't been a problem for most of the year and hopefully this was just a one off.

- Fox's game production: I continue to be frustrated with whomever at Fox it is that believes fans want to see close ups of the quarterback or any other player before the snap at the expense of seeing the whole field before the play starts. You have to shift your focus from a helmet to all of this action happening at the same time and try to find the ball all in a blink of an eye. Its friggin horrible and I don't know of anybody who likes it. You don't see the same thing on CBS or NBC so I have to believe its a Fox production issue. I really wish they would cut it out though because it makes it a helluva lot harder to evaluate what happened on any given play.

In addition, can we get some better announcers please??? I almost want to poke myself in the ears listening to the games unless its the radio broadcast because the commentary is so boring AND wrong. For instance the announcers for our game at one point kept harping that we were "in an 8 man front" and therefore the Rams shouldn't have been able to run the ball on us. Well we WEREN'T in an 8 man front any of those times. We were either in nickle and Ronde was out of the box on the slot receiver, OR we had base in but there wasn't a safety rolled down.

I mean they are showing REPLAYS and STILL calling it an 8 man front when it obviously wasn't. And the effect is some fans who don't know any better take them at their word and start grumbling about teams running the ball against our 8 man fronts and it gets echoed all over the place until it becomes conventional wisdom when from the get go it was bullshit. And really and truly this isn't just a Fox issue, I have beef with a BUNCH of football announcers. But Fox most consistently brings the stupid in my opinion.


Between the Bull Rush column and then one I don't actually have any extras this week lol. I'll look for your remarks in the comments section.

Have a great one.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bull Rush

4-2 and it feels so good!

First off, raise your hand if you thought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be 4-2 right now. And remember that I have some of you guys' predictions, lol.

I DID predict they would have won 4 games at this point in the season but I thought we would beat the Steelers here at home and probably lose to the Bengals on the road. But the truth is for all the predictions in the world, nothing really matters until the games are actually played. I'm just happy that the team lived up to my expectations and is showing the signs of turning things around from an abysmal year last year.

Now people will try to detract from all of the Bucs' wins, but I say let em. I can tell you one thing, some preseason darlings like the Cowboys and the Vikings would LOVE to have their record right now. And in the end, that's all that matters.

The game yesterday was pretty ugly in the first half but by holding the Rams to no points in the second half and coming back to win the game, the Bucs showed a maturity that was rare last year. They weren't perfect, but they were good enough win it counted and that's how they won the game.

One thing I want to point out is that they ran the Over Stick call that I drew up a couple of weeks ago at least four times yesterday. I am not in any way shape or form trying to take credit for that but the point is IT WORKED! It gave the Rams fits because they weren't used to our weakside in coming inside and it really messed with their blocking schemes. It appeared that Geno Hayes was going to blitz outside a couple of times too which made it even better. I'm hoping that it becomes a regular part of the call sheet.

Was it just me or did the Bucs keep Gerald McCoy out of the game longer than usual in the second quarter? The Rams were driving and I kept wondering "Where the HELL is McCoy?!"

Also last week the Saints really got after the defensive line with cut off blocks by the fullbacks and tight ends. As I predicted, because this is a copy cat league, the Rams tried to do a lot of the same. Thankfully the ends were a lot better on it this week. But on the other hand the Rams ran three or four bootlegs with some pretty good results and so I would expect that they will see a lot of those in the coming weeks as well.

One last thing, we didn't play one snap of 3-3-5 this game that I saw. I don't know if that was just because of something the Rams did or not but I do think we were better off for it. I wouldn't mind seeing it once or twice a game on 3rd down but we were running it entirely too much in my opinion.

The defensive line had a lot to do with the win as they were very productive and played pretty good ball through out. So without further delay here are my individual breakdowns.

Kyle Moore: I thought Moore played well coming off his shoulder injury. He had two tackles and a assist along with a fumble recovery by my count. He also had a good bullrush and showed really good hustle on one of those tackles. If I had a complaint its that he still isn't dominating the tight ends the way he could and should be. But one thing he did well was getting under the cut off blocks that were killing the defensive ends last week against the Saints. That made a big difference in our run fits.

Gerald McCoy: McCoy promised that we would see a different player on Sunday and I think he lived up to his words. He came out of the game with 2 tackles and 3 assists by my count. The most significant and noticeable change was how he got off the ball and up the field. The only problem was that he got reached a couple of times. But the reality is it was worth it to have him pushing the offensive line backward and making the running back have to cut deeper or bow his track a little. He still didn't notch his first sack but he did have a good rush on a rip and run. The more he continues to get off the ball and get up field like that the higher the more plays he will make and those sacks will surely come.

Roy Miller: Just as the team looked distinctly different from half to half yesterday, so did Miller. In the first half he was still getting pushed around a little too much. But in the second half he started really hunkering down and played a lot better. I had him with 3 assisted tackles and he showed good hustle all day. What he has to do now is learn to play the whole game the way he played the second half and the whole defense will benefit from it.

Stylez G. White: Lost in all the negative talk about the loss to the Saints last week was the fact that White really picked up his pass rush against them. He beat a guy clean coming around the horn and he also was a lot more physical and even, gasp, made some inside moves. Unfortunately Dree Brees was able to get the ball off but Sam Bradford wasn't so lucky. Stylez got his second sack of the year along with a caused fumble that set the offense up with a great opportunity for a score. The offense ended up coming away with only a field goal after a series of miscues, but in a game where the margin of victory was a single point, that play was HUGE!

And it wasn't just that one play. I had him with 2 other tackles, two more pressures, another hit on the quarterback and one other good rush where Bradford completed the pass. He had a great hump move right off the line of scrimmage and but for Bradford getting the ball off quickly would have had another sack. Mind you its not like he had a ton of opportunities as the Rams ran quite a few bootlegs and quick passes. If he continues to play at this level then those double digit sacks he (and I) predicted will become a reality.

Tim Crowder: Crowder had a really good all around game. He had 2 tackles and an assist by my count. He also had a pressure and two other good rushes where the pass was completed. Hidden in that is two hustle plays that he made. One that was huge was on the draw in the fourth quarter late in the game on 3rd and 11. He went up field and then turned and ran to the ball to stop Steven Jackson a couple of yards shy of the first down. That forced the punt that eventually led to the game tying score in the final seconds. If he doesn't make that tackle its highly likely that Jackson falls forward for the first down and perhaps seals the win for them. Its plays like those that don't have an asterisk beside them in the stat sheet but have a major effect on the game.

Ryan Sims: If they could keep Sims at nosetackle I think we would be much better off. He is a big guy who is strong and and hard to move and plays with pretty good leverage. He held the point well against double teams and also had some success against cut off blocks from a G technique. But he doesn't look good playing undertackle and that is just a fact. He got reached all the way to the opposite A gap on one play and that isn't easy to do.

I actually like Sims as a player and I love the effort he gives every Sunday, but I am hoping that the Bucs realize he is suited to nosetackle a lot more than undertackle and consider moving Roy to undertackle when McCoy needs a blow.

Michael Bennett: I have been high on Bennett since training camp but he had a bad game yesterday. He was basically the only end that still had some problems getting underneath the kick out blocks. He jumped offsides on a crucial 3rd and medium. He was soft a couple of times against the run and he also was on the ground. He did have a pretty good inside move at end versus play action pass but that was really the only pass rush he generated all game. On the bootlegs he got fooled bad at least once.

I'm not down on him after one bad game but he needs to pick his production up if he expects to continue getting opportunities.

Well that's all for now. Also its my birthday so my normal The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly post will have to wait till tomorrow. As always you can leave questions and add your two cents in the comments section. I'll be sure to try to get to them asap.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Your Week 6 Leader

Oh yeah, that would be.....MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE


Yep, told yall I was making my move and Ive climbed all the way up to a distant 2nd place,

TopDog is still killing us all though so its kinda a moot point. Still I'm having fun with it and I hope you are too. Be sure to get your picks in this before Sunday.

Trash talk as always is welcome in the comments.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Has The Light Come On For Gerald McCoy?

“There has been some confusion on my part, and that has kind of slowed me down” McCoy said. “That’s all on me, though. I’ve sat down and talked to Coach [Raheem Morris] and I have a better understanding of what they want. They made it very clear, but there was some confusion on my part and the confusion slowed me down. That will change completely this week.

“[The confusion surrounded] how they wanted me to play, and they made it very clear. When I went back and talked to Coach he said the exact same thing. I was thinking, ‘Oh, I thought it was this way.’ We weren’t seeing eye-to-eye, but that was my fault because I thought we were clear, but clearly we weren’t.”

McCoy said that he has been playing too tentative through the first six games, and afraid he was going to make a mistake by not maintaining proper gap integrity.

“It was just some confusion on my part and now I can let it go,” McCoy said. “I can do a lot more. The thing about the three technique in the Tampa 2 defense, he can’t be wrong – and everybody else has to read off him. I was thinking that I couldn’t get out of my gap. You just have to go out and play reckless. You have to play smart. You just can’t go out and do anything, but you have to play reckless.

“You can play with structure, but you’ve just got to say, ‘Whatever! I don’t can’t care! I’m going!’ I was playing so, ‘Oh, my God, don’t make a mistake’ instead of making a mistake going 1,000 miles an hour. That’s the difference in what I was doing and that’s the difference in what I will do.”


I would love to take Gerald McCoy's words at face value but, as the saying goes, talk is cheap in the NFL. Still its encouraging, at least to me, to hear him talk with a little more confidence about what he is supposed to be doing. It was obvious after his mini rant after the game on Sunday that he was frustrated and down on himself, emotions which I posited arose out of too much being thrown at him at once. So just the fact that he feels more comfortable in what his role is and is supposed to be is definitely a good sign.

But you do have to wonder, why it took this long for his role to be defined for him. I have tried my best to refrain from calling out defensive line coach Todd Wash directly because its hard to say whether its coaching or whether guys just aren't responding on Sundays. But in this case you have McCoy basically saying he had to go over Wash's head to Coach Morris to get a better understanding of what his role is supposed to be. Something is wrong with that picture. I would venture to say that even if it was Wash who had helped him understand what he needed to do, its a little late for that going into the 7th week of the season.

Why did it take so long for McCoy to get the memo that he is allowed to create havoc by any means necessary???

Its a question that deserves an answer, especially if McCoy all of a sudden performs like a world beater on Sunday.

The only other thing I will say is this. I hope that McCoy doesn't start trying to do everybody else's job every play. Its definitely a good thing that he wants to make more plays and in certain situations that kind of aggressiveness will be just what the doctor ordered. But if he gets reached on a regular basis because he is peeking inside eventually the defense is going to have a problem (or more problems). I also hope that he realizes that the easiest way to create havoc is to get off the ball and get up field on the snap of the ball. Not only will me make more plays against the run in the backfield if he does that more, he will also get a head start on his pass rush versus play action pass.

So yeah, I'm cautiously optimistic after seeing these words from McCoy, but he's going to have to back them up against the Rams. And you can bet those quotes will make their way to their locker room so the Rams offensive line will probably be on high alert which will probably make the prospects of a break out game that much harder.  But I am rooting for the kids and I know he has the ability to get it done.

So with that I say, Good Luck...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Who Done It???

Normally the day after a game I do my Tampa Bay defensive line critique "Bull Rush" post and my "The Good The Bad And The Ugly" post about the performance of the Buccaneers team as a whole. I decided not to do that today in light of how ugly things got yesterday against the Saints. Instead I wanted to highlight a few of the running plays on defense so as to place blame where necessary. Plenty of people will be blaming different people for the Saints gaining more than 200 yards on the ground against the Bucs defense yesterday but I thought maybe people would want to know exactly what happened.

Here are 8 plays that gained a total of 134 yards on the ground. You can look at the diagrams and follow along by the numbers. You can also go back and watch the game online at for the next couple of days to see the plays for yourself.

1. First and 10, 11:49 in the 1st quarter and the first time the Saints touch the ball starting at their own 6 yard line. They come out in a one back set with a tight end and wide receiver to each side of the formation. The run a zone cutback that bounces outside for 18 yards. The Saints doubled the left end, Tim Crowder, with a tight end and the right tackle. The nose tackle, Roy Miller, is lined up in a G alignment just inside the right guard and the center and guard double him up to the Mike linebacker Barrett Ruud. The undertackle, Gerald McCoy, is double teamed by the left guard and left tackle up to the Sam Linebacker, Quincy Black. The tight end to his side tries to cut Stylez G. White off from the C gap between the tight end and the left tackle. The wide receiver to the defense's right blocks Ronde Barber.

Everyone fits up pretty well into their gaps but Barber gets a little too heavy into the wide receiver and isn't able to come off and make the tackle on the running back. Because he is the contain element of the defense, once the running back bounces it outside of him there is no one else to make the tackle until the Safety gets there. If Ronde keeps leverage and is able to either make the tackle or turn the running back inside to his help, the play probably doesn't gain much of anything. Instead the run gets the Saints off to a good start on the day.

Another note on the play is Roy Miller got pushed around and that would be a recurring theme all day.

2. First and 10, 8:27 in the 2nd quarter from the Saints' 24 yardline. The Saints come out in the same formation which they used quite a bit all game. This time they sealed the left end, Michael Bennett with the tight end, and they cracked on the Strong Safety, Sean Jones with the wide receiver on the defense's left side. When the wide receiver crack blocks the corner on that side is supposed to replace the Strong Safety's fit to the outside. Instead E.J. Biggers continued following the wide receiver and there was no one to turn the ball back inside. The Saints running back bounced it outside and gained 33 yards before he was taken down.

3. Second and 6, 7:05 in the 2nd quarter at the Bucs' 39 yard line. The Saints came out with one receiver to the defense's left and two to the defense's right with two backs in the backfield. The fullback was offset to the right. This was essentially an ISO running play with the fullback leading up on Ruud. The center and guard double teamed Miller up to Black and there was a lane between the fullback and the center. Jones had an opportunity to make the play but missed the tackle. The Saints gained 8 yards on that play.

4. First and 10, 6:33 in the 2nd quarter at the Bucs' 31 yard line. The Saints go back to a one back set with a tight end and wide receiver on each side. This time the Bucs used a line stunt where McCoy rips into the A gap from the B gap and Miller rips from the A gap to the B gap. The tight end on White's side gets inside of him and cuts him off from the C gap. The Left Tackle goes up to seal Black inside. The Saints running back starts to the defense's left and then cut's back to the C gap where White is supposed to be. Even though White isn't there, Jones has an opportunity to make a play on the running back but he loses sight of him and over runs the play. The result is the play earns the Saints another 16 yards.

5. First and 10, 12:10 in the 3rd quarter at the Bucs' 46 yard line. Same formation again with the one back set and a tight end and wide receiver on each side. The Bucs are in an under front this time with Black walked up on the line to the defense's right side. The Saints run the zone that way and once again Miller gets pushed around by the guard and center. McCoy gets a slip block with the guard and right tackle and the left end gets a cut off block by the tight end to that side. The truth is everyone is in pretty good shape on this play as far as being in their gap, but the Will linebacker, Geno Hayes, decided to try to run through his B gap to make the play. Instead the right guard cut him and the Saints' running back cut back into the hole he was supposed to be in. Instead of little to no gain, the runner ended up with 9 yards.

6. Third and 4, 3:07 in the 3rd quarter from the Bucs' 27. The Saints came out with a trips bunch set close to the formation with one running back and one wide receiver on the opposite side. The Bucs were in nickel personnel. It appears that because it was 3rd down Ruud and Black expected pass and didn't read the run right away. The tight end in the bunch formation closest to the right tackle came across the formation to kick out White which he did. The left tackle was able to get up to Black and seal him inside. That created a lane for the running back to run through for 16 more yards.

7. First and 10, 5:35 in the 4th quarter from the Bucs' 45 yard line. The Saints came out with two tightends and two running backs with one wide receiver. Both tightends lined up to the defense's left and the wide receiver lined up to the opposite side of the formation. This was actually a play that the Saints had success against the Bucs with last year. So much so that the Carolina Panthers copied the play and ran it against the Bucs last year after the fact. But its still a good play design and its hard to defend.

The tightend furthest from the ball and off the line of scrimmage takes off for the flat giving the impression that it is a passing play and pulling the corner away from the formation. The tightend lined up on the ball avoids the defensive end inside to get up on the linebacker but to the defensive end it looks like a pass route. For that reason the defensive end's first instinct is to get up the field and pass rush. But the fullback takes a step to the defense's right and then runs right behind the offensive line almost hiding till the last moment to kick out the defensive end. And that's exactly what happened to Bennett. He has to get under that block and either make the play or make it bounce outside. Ryan Sims was in at undertackle and he is also partially at fault because they initially double teamed him with the right tackle and guard but the right tackle eventually came off to block Ruud. Sims however had been knocked out of his gap at that point and couldn't get back in it in time to make a play on the running back. This play netted the Saints another 7 yards.

8. Second and 3, 4:52 in the 4th quarter at the Bucs' 38 yard line. The Saints keep the same personnel but this time they start off with a tight end on each side and the wide receiver to the defense's right. Before the snap the tightend on the defense's right side steps off the line and motions all the way across the formation. Once the ball is snapped he goes out to block the corner. The stationary tight end comes off and base blocks Bennett. Sims gets double teamed by the right tackle and guard. The fullback comes to kick out the Free Safety, Cody Grimm. The left guard pulls to block Ruud. Hayes' fit is inside the fullback's block and he actually gets there. But the running back ran inside off the fullback's block and for whatever reason Hayes wasn't able to make the tackle on him. That one was all on Geno and I'm sure he knows it. Unfortunately because he didn't make the play in his gap and because Jones and Black also weren't able to bring the runner down, the Saints picked up another 27 yards at the end of the game.

So what do we make of all this? Well first of all aside from Roy Miller getting tossed around on several plays which is unacceptable, we mostly gave up the big yardage because guys weren't on the details or missed tackles rather than having been physically manhandled. Second of all there are some problems that we are having that are recurring. Our defensive ends aren't getting underneath kick out blocks like they should and that's all about technique and using your eyes. That's something that can definitely be fixed but you have to wonder why it hasn't been to this point. Thirdly you will notice that aside from the one line stunt, these were plays where the Bucs just lined up in front of the Saints like it was drawn up on a chalkboard. I don't know that movement or blitzes would have solved all of our problems but I have to wonder when we will at least TRY to start helping ourselves on early downs with a few zone blitzes to give offenses a different look to block.

It was a terrible day for our defense, make no mistake about it, but in watching the replay online I didn't get the sense that we were physically dominated anywhere but our nosetackle position. The Bucs tried to play a lot of G with Miller which is something I thought might be useful, but with his outside hand down and outside foot back I think he was going to have a hard day regardless. Still you can't make any excuses, he HAS to play better. Otherwise I'm pretty sure that it won't be long before Price is out there with the starters. After all if we are going to suck on defense against the run we might as well suck with our rookie 2nd round pick in there getting some good experience.

I have some other random thoughts about the game in general so here goes.

- I thought Josh Freeman was off just a little all game. He made some nice throws but at times his accuracy wasn't what I was used to seeing this year. I did love it that he went after the Saints player who went after his knee. That's the kind of fight you have to have to lead a team.

- The 3-3-5 may be a useful tool but we are using it too damn much. And Coach Morris can't keep using the excuse that Quincy Black is a good rusher because he isn't. As I have said time and again he is a good BLITZER not a good rusher and there is a helluva difference. I went back and looked at my notes and aside from that sack against Carolina, Black has only had two pressures by my count. And those were on plays where he ran a pass rush game with Gerald McCoy. I don't believe that I have seen him win a single one on one pass rush against an offensive lineman this year. And I doubt I WILL see him win one because he for as strong and as fast as he is, he doesn't have any moves. Every time he is out there as a rush end that is a play where a true pass rushing defensive end is on the bench, our two rookie defensive tackles aren't pass rushing from their normal alignments, and there is zero chance to run a pass rush game unless its on his side.

We are cutting off all of that potential pressure just to get Black on the field. Hey, I have a novel idea. Why not just sub him in for Ruud or Hayes? If he is really THAT indispensable then why not allow him to play what he is best at? Hell you can blitz him from those positions too! You can even call Bark and have a FIVE man rush!

But here's what you CAN'T do. You can't say you want more pressure on the quarterback if you continue to refuse to use four defensive lineman for a four man rush. You can't say you want more pressure when you refuse to call overload blitzes to either side. You can't complain about not getting pressure when you aren't allowing guys to pass rush from their more natural positions.

You can't, you simply CAN NOT. Oh you can tell a few beat writers here in Tampa but its not going to fly with me. I SEE what's happening on the field and what isn't. McCoy didn't have a great day but he did make one helluva move when he was rushing from his undertackle spot and got a pressure. I can only wonder how many more times that happens if he gets more opportunities to rush from that position. Or hell maybe he gets to run a true TEX game with a defensive end instead of being a crash test dummy trying to free everything up for Black. Or maybe he can run a TOM game inside with Price where they create pressure up the middle on the quarterback who now can't step up and gets sacked by our defensive ends coming around the horn.

Or.....maybe we keep running that bullshit 3-3-5 and then complaining after the games about how much time the quarterback had.

- I am still waiting to determine what our bread and butter running plays are. One thing that makes watching a team run up and down the field against the Bucs defense even more frustrating is then watching our offense and never or rarely seeing them use similar blocking schemes. I know it isn't actually that way, but I swear at times it looks like every running play we run during a game only gets run once. A zone, then a split belly, then a sweep, then an iso, then a counter (if we're lucky). Never any rhyme or reason to it. Almost like we are just pulling running plays out of a hat.

We hardly ever double team defensive linemen up to the second level, we hardly ever cut block the backside defensive tackle or defensive end, we hardly ever just punish people in our running game. And that's the major problem we are having right now. People can say its Caddy all the want to. I want y'all to watch the replay of the game and tell me where you see any holes that he's missing. Better yet I want you to tell me what he's supposed to do when he keeps seeing the defense in the backfield play after play. Yeah maybe he could get another yard or two a game, but I can tell you this much unless we sign King Kong, nobody we put back there is going to put up big numbers on the ground until we fix our schemes and play calling.


- I'm really sad to hear about Kareem Huggins tearing his ACL and being out for the rest of the year. The kids worked his way up from the bottom and was finally about to get his chance to shine. Hopefully he takes his rehab seriously and can come back next year in time to give it another shot. Also we are really thin at running back now with Earnest Graham hurting his hamstring. Along with the fact that Huggins was our only true "scat" back I would say we are in the market for a guy with some speed. It will be interesting to see who the Bucs bring in, if anybody.

- Connor Barth...WTF MANNNNNNN?!

- Not sure what Aqib Talib's deal was yesterday but his effort both times he got bombed on left a lot to be desired. I believe Talib is a Pro Bowl player but he has to PROVE it every week.

Welp that's all for now, As always if you have questions just leave them in the comments section.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Your Week Five Leader

I'm beginning to think Top Dog should be working in Vegas lol. Also it appears that I don't do so well when I talk trash. Ended up dropping a spot to 4th thanks to a strong showing by Sander. That's ok though because I'm going to start being a silent but deadly killer.

Oh and by the way, Bucball, Hot Tub Dave, and JonesDrewOverTheCuckoosNest you guys have one more week to make picks. If you don't I'm making an executive decision and removing you from the league.

Just a heads up.

Don't forget to get your picks in today!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Minor Special Teams Shake Up

The Bucs released punter Chris Bryan yesterday. It was a move that had to happen. With a young offense and a marginally older defense all of our special teams have to be strong for us so that we have the best opportunity to win. The last two weeks Bryan had squandered opportunities to pin teams inside the 20 several times and he also wasn't getting much hang time which gave returners more of an opportunity to return against us. Not sure who will replace him at this point but I'd put money on Brent Bowden coming back.

Also its being reported that the Bucs are looking to switch kickoff returners. I like Michael Spurlock a lot and he has a very inspiring story of perseverance. But so far this year he hasn't really hit the holes hard enough on kickoff returns. Me personally Id like to see Kareem Huggins given the opportunity. He seems to be more like the traditional kick off returners who have a lot of straight line speed and hit the holes hard without hesitation. I honestly couldn't understand why he wasn't returning kickoffs in the preseason. If he is going to be on our team we need to use him as a weapon otherwise what's the point?

Just my opinion of course.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Blast From The Past And A Quick Scouting Report

Back in the day a staple of our defense was Over Stick. Its a simple line stunt where the defensive end to the weakside shoots inside to the B gap on the snap. In the event that its a pass the nosetackle gets off the ball in the A gap, reads the pass block and then loops around for contain. The nose could usually afford to be a little late because most of the time the weakside of the defense would be to the quarterback's blind side. And if it isn't a pass the nosetackle just plays his normal technique.

See, simple!

But as simple as the call is, it gave the defense many potential advantages.

For one it gave the weakside defensive end the chance to get in the backfield and create some havoc. If a team tries to go play action pass then there's a chance that defensive end can get some really quick pressure on the quarterback. If there is a trap it gives the defensive end the chance to push the offensive tackle down inside so they can't get up to the linebacker before they get under the pulling guard or fullback. It also helps can help the Will linebacker by allowing him to be slower on running plays strong just in case a team tries to sneak a bootleg or a reverse in.

On the flip side you don't really give up much by calling Over Stick.

So why did the Bucs ever stop calling Over Stick?

Well this guy by the name of Simeon Rice came over in free agency and he wasn't a big fan of Over Stick. And when a guy who averages 10+ sacks a season speaks, people tend to listen.

But now I think is as good a time as any to bring it back. Teams have already seen the strong side defensive line stunts but they haven't seen the Buccaneers do much stunting on the weakside unless we were blitzing. So there is no reason to believe that the Saints offensive line would be ready for it.

But for me honestly the motivation has a lot to do with Stylez G. White. Because he plays right end it would usually be him running the Stick call. So far this year Stylez has all but refused to make any inside pass rush moves and its really hurting his game. This would pretty much force him to come inside and give the offensive tackle more to think about. It would also afford him the opportunity to get quick pressure on Drew Brees who doesn't tend to hold on to the ball very long nor take very deep drops. And the Saints are in fact a team that likes to run a lot of misdirection plays and reverses. Over Stick would allow Geno Hayes to hold his water a little bit and not get caught out of position.

And while Stylez is primarily the guy I think the call will help the most, whomever is in at defensive end on the weakside will have an opportunity to make plays with this call.

If you ask me it really is a no brainer about putting it back into the playbook, but hell what do I know?

Now as far as the Saints' offensive line, I had the opportunity to watch their game against the Panthers several times and I picked up on a couple of things I would like to share.

- The right tackle, Jon Stinchcomb, is a guy who likes to take a wide pass set rather than a deep one. His deal is getting his punch in on you and trying to make you widen right off the snap and or run right into him. The way to attack him is to run the hoop on him and don't stop. Running into him is what he wants so just be prepared to work a hands move off the snap and burn the corner because he is not good and recovering on quick speed rushers. The key is as I said running the hoop with your hips turned into the quarterback while you turn the corner. If you just run straight up the field with your hips parallel to the line of scrimmage then he is going to push you out and away from Brees, but if you can keep those hips turned in then its going to be harder for him to move you off your track.

He is also susceptible to a quick spin right off the line because he wants to use his punch so bad and because he opens up the B gap inside of him right off the snap. Those two moves will win all day quite honestly and there is no need to try to do much else.

- The two guards, Carl Nicks and Jahari Evans, are almost mirror images of each other. Both are really big guys. Both like to try to stun rushers at the line of scrimmage. And both are maulers in the run game.

To rush them you HAVE to stay on an edge. I'm sure our defensive tackles are strong, but its hard as hell to bull rush 350+. The good news is because they are quick setters most of the time, edge rushes can beat them right away. The also aren't necessarily all that good at blocking movement. So making a quick and decisive inside move also has a good chance of success.

In the run game its going to be imperative this week for guys to rip off their blocks inside. Evans and Nicks will get their hands on you and then throw you on the ground and the refs rarely call it. The one way to make it more obvious is to actually try to rip off the block and get to the ball. Then when you fall the jersey tug is a lot more noticeable.

- The center is Johnathan Goodwin and while he is big he is more of a finesse guy. He will wide reach a nosetackle and on double teams he seems to hesitate for a count to allow the nosetackle to get into him right before a guard comes and cleans them up. If ever there was a week to play a lot of G technique with the nosetackle over the guard instead of the center I would say its this one. But I also still believe that the G technique should be played with the inside hand down and the inside foot back but so far no one has tried it.

- The left tackle is Jermon Bushrod and he's good but you can definitely beat him like a drum with the right pass rush plan. What he does is get depth off the snap and tries to keep his shoulder's square to the line of scrimmage, then when you finally get to him he turns his shoulders and tries to ride you by the quarterback.

Because he doesn't turn his shoulders early and he gets depth off the snap a quick spin isn't really advisable on the right side. Maybe a quick rip or arm over inside where you can recover if you don't beat him clean, but if you try a quick spin he is in all likely hood going to own you.

The key to beating him on the edge is to get into him sooner rather than later and then quickly get off of him with a rip. He is already getting back pretty good on the snap and if you can go directly at him you should get to him before he has a chance to set up. You push him back a step or two and then rip off and you are right at the level Drew Brees likes on his five step drops. If you, however, try to run up the field and then bull rush him he will have set up by then and when you rip off you will end up behind Brees most of the time.

The other move is to use his set against him. Go speed rush around the corner and then right the level of the quarterback when you feel him trying to ride you by you plant hard and spin inside. At the point where he turns his shoulders he opens the door for the spin move. The fact that he wants to ride you by the quarterback means he is going to have a lot of his weight leaning forward. The first couple of times you do it he may well fall down.

Of course Drew Brees likes to get the ball out of his hands quick so even when guys win their one on ones it doesn't mean they will get sacks. But if they have a good rush plan we can get a lot of hits on Drew Brees this week. After watching their offensive line against the Panthers I don't see any reason why the Bucs can't go out there and dominate them. But they won't do it if they end up just running down the middle of the O Line.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Good:

- Redemption: It was so impressive to see at least four guys who had bad plays yesterday come back and make HUGE plays to helps us win. You have Aqib Talib who gave up the early bomb to TO. All he does is come back and pick off Palmer at the end of the game to give he offense and opportunity to score the game tying touchdown. You have Sabby Piscitelli who got trucked a few times in the run game and gave up a touchdown to Jermaine Gresham. All he did was pick off the ball AND return it with mere seconds left down to give our offense an opportunity to score the game winning field goal. You have Michael Spurlock who fumbled a kickoff return. All he did was catch a highlight reel pass on he sideline with mere seconds left to move the team down closer to make the game winning field goal. And you had Mike Williams who fumbled the ball deep in Cincinnati territory come back and make just an unbelievable touchdown catch to tie the game.

These weren't the only guys who atoned for bad plays I'm sure but they are the first one to come to my mind. Most of last year there's a good chance players would have gone in the tank after making some of those bad plays. This year there is a definite change in attitude and its great to see.

- Connor Barth: Don't want to jinx the guy but its great to have a kicker that is so consistent and accurate, especially in tight games like yesterday.

- Cody Grim: I obviously had a lot of questions about the kid but he came up HUGE yesterday. By my tally he had 10 tackles and 2 assists to go along with that pick six that got us on the scoreboard early. It seems like they are playing him a lot more in the box like a strong safety than a free safety thus all the tackles, but either way the guy had a monster game. If he likes playing closer to the line of scrimmage then by all means keep him there because you can't beat that kind of production. I actually didn't have him down for a bad play or a missed tackle.

- Brian Price and Michael Bennett's pass rush: Check out my Bull Rush column to get the goods on this one. Both guys justified their playing time yesterday.

- Kellen Winslow: Sometimes its easy to over look Winslow's contributions because he is just so consistent. Its almost like you get used to it. But yesterday he made some outstanding catches all day and especially on third down. I'm not sure what our offense would be without him.

- Earnest Graham: You simply can not say enough good things about EG. The guy excels on special teams, blocks guys 30 pounds heavier than him or more, barely gets any opportunities with the ball in his hands after being our leading rusher just a couple of years back. And yet he does it all without complaint. It was great to see him get that big 60+ yard run yesterday and also the 1 yard touchdown. The NFL needs more guys with his kind of attitude.

- Josh Freeman: He did have that one questionable throw that was picked off but other than that Freeman with stood a Bengals team that blitzed him like there was no tomorrow. I'm sure after all those hits he took he's sore today but he still found away to win the game for us both with the touchdown throw to Williams and with the laser he threw to Spurlock on the sidelines. He even ran for a first down earlier in the game in the face of a 7 man blitz. Impressive stuff especially on the road.

The Bad:

- Roy Miller: Again just go read my Bull Rush post.

- Davin Joseph: Not sure what's going on with Joseph but he is having major problems blocking movement on both run and pass. He's definitely not looking like the guy we're used to seeing that was Pro Bowl character. I wonder if its lingering effects from the leg injury he sustained in preseason. Whatever it is the team needs him to play better if we want to get our running game going.

The Ugly:

- Chris Bryan: If this guy keeps his job it will be a miracle or he has pictures he is blackmailing people with. The Bucs partially blocked one of the Kevin Huber's, the Bengal's punter, punts and he still ended up with a better average by damn near 20 than Bryan on the exact same number of kicks. The 15 yard punt? Yeah that should be the nail in the coffin. Sorry bruh, but no country for punters with low averages.


- On first glance it seemed like the offensive line was terrible against the blitz again, and don't get me wrong its not like they had a banner day, but the truth is the Bengals kept sending one more than we had in to block. They were sending six or seven guys on a regular basis and as much as anything they were overloading one side (something I said we should be doing on defense more). What happens is that generally when you keep a back in to block the center slides to the opposite side to where he lines up. So that leaves the guard, tackle, and back to block that side. Well if a defense blitzes four what do you do? Generally you try to block the inside guys and let the end man on the line go because it should in theory take them longer to get there. But it doesn't always work that way.

Now we could have gone more max protect leaving a tight end in but that means Winslow likely wouldn't be out in as many routes and he is too big of a part of our passing game. We also could take those opportunities to try to hit homeruns which is what we started to do in the second half. The one thing we didn't do that I felt like we should have done is run more running back screens. We attempted one in the first half but it was a bad throw and Caddy dropped it. I kept thinking we would go back to it since they blitzed so much but we never did.

- It was good to see Arrelious Benn out there making plays. He made two nice catches for 25 yards but he also made a couple of tackles on special teams. I think fans will learn to love this guy the more he gets opportunities.

- I thought Ronde Barber didn't have his best game. He got caught peeking in the backfield one time and his guy caught a long pass on a seam route. He also dropped a pick in the first half which he seemingly never does. He still ended up with 6 tackles so he didn't have a bad game per se. He just didn't seem to be all over the field like normal.

- I don't know if anybody else noticed but I don't think I saw Jerramy Stevens in for a single snap of offense. And further more we didn't miss him. John Gilmore did a good job of blocking and even had a catch which is rare for him. I think as Erik Lorig comes on as a blocker this will become the norm.

- Coach Morris said Sean Jones just had back spasms and should be ok. Its worth noting that it appeared we played the first play with 10 men though I can be sure because of the camera angle. During the game several Bucs beat writers said Jones was hurt on the first play but now I wonder if they meant on the kickoff. Either way we got away with one there as we were about to play second down with only 10 as well until we called a timeout as Sabby was running on the field late.

- Not that it means he isn't going to be a good runner but I wonder if folks will now temper their enthusiasm about LeGarrette Blount taking over for Caddy after his 4 carries for 3 yards. He didn't have that many opportunities but everyone needs to stop crowning guys the next big thing after one decent outing. Just my opinion.

- I do worry about how Earnest Graham will hold up if he is the full time lead blocker. With Chris Pressley inactive yesterday EG took just about all of those reps and although he did a good job I just have to wonder how much pounding his body could take.

- Question: Does anybody know what our bread and butter running play is? I certainly don't. And that's not a good thing. Every offense should have one running play that they rep so much they can run it in their sleep and get a couple of yards. But with our offense our running schemes seem so disjointed and unconnected. I'll tell you this much, we ran a Ram Belly/Split Belly yesterday and Caddy got good yardage out of it. Its a play that I think is perfect for him but we hardly ever call it and after we had success on the one play yesterday I don't think we ran it again all game. Its hard to run the ball when you don't have that bread and butter play you can always count on.

- Jeremy Zuttah subbed in decently for Jeff Faine yesterday but he still isn't able to get movement on a nosetackle unless he has help from a guard on a double team. It looks like he is going to have to start there for a couple of weeks and we had better stay away from plays where he has to single block or its going to be trouble.

- I thought Donald Penn came back and played well after a bad game against the Steelers. He had a highlight block on a defensive back on a wide receiver screen play. In the immortal words of a former Bucs tight ends coach "Break out the syrup!"

Bull Rush

That was a great win yesterday against a quality opponent in Cincinnati on the road for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Even though the Bengals haven't set the world on fire so far this year, they are the defending AFC north champions and most people didn't give the Bucs much of a chance of beating them. It wasn't pretty but we made enough plays when it counted to win the game and that's huge. For most of last year winning a game like that against a good team like the Bengals would have been almost impossible. But the Bucs showed that they have matured a lot especially at the end of the game and that's a big reason why we are now 3-1.

Having said that when I watched the game again I saw a lot of issues on defense. For the first time all year I thought the defensive line got pushed around some up front. Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers beat us soundly in week 3 most of the problems we had against the run that game was just a matter of guys not being in their gap. Yesterday however too many times we were getting knocked off the ball.

That's the bad news. The good news is it can be fixed. Its not that we are weak up front but instead its more so guys are just not using good technique. For whatever reason we aren't playing on edges a lot and our defensive tackles are not getting penetrations into their gaps.

Some of the reason is that we are habitually late off the ball. I am not sure if guys are worried about jumping offsides or what but as a group the get off can use some work.

Also when playing double teams guys have to feel when one guy comes off and then expand where that guy came from because that is where the ball is probably going to be run.

And maybe the most important thing is guys have to keep working on escaping off blocks instead of just reaching out for the ball carrier.

Its hard enough to tackle some of the good running backs in this league. You don't need to make it harder by allowing a 300 pound guy to continue pushing on you while you're trying to get a guy on the ground.

Oddly enough the guy who I think everyone should watch and model their run technique after, at least in general, is Stylez G. White. I say oddly because for whatever reason they seem to take him out of the game on running downs at times even though I'm not really sure why. But when you see him play the run you see him getting up the field, on an edge, and ripping off blocks to make plays. His technique is best I've seen on the team and so are his fits. If we could get everybody other than the nose playing more like him against the run we would be much better off.

Also I'll be honest in saying that I personally have a problem with how much the Buccaneers are using our 3-3-5 alignment. Maybe its the defensive lineman in me showing my bias but while I understand wanting to have Quincy Black on the field as much as possible, I just don't think using a 3 man line so prominently helps us as much as it would just mixing it in from time to time. We also saw yesterday what can happen when a team catches us in that 3 man line alignment and decides to run the ball. Some of the plays where Cedric Benson gashed us were against that alignment and we simply aren't gap sound versus the run in that defense.

Using the 3-3-5 to generate pass rush has also gotten mixed results at best in my opinion. Yes Black is fast and athletic but I have yet to see him beat an offensive tackle one on one this regular season so far. In fact most of the time he just runs a TEX with Gerald McCoy who is rushing from a defensive end position. That isn't all bad by any means but it IS predictable. Also because McCoy is running a TEX from that alignment instead of a regular 3 technique alignment it means he has to come inside hard first and try to blow up the B gap almost as if he was instead running an EX game. The problem with that is on a true TEX game the defensive tackle is supposed to have a contain rush.

Now when run well the defensive tackle can have a contain rush by getting to the back of the offensive tackle and then falling off inside of him to make the sack because he has gotten far enough up field to do so. When running a TEX out of a 3-3-5 however the defensive tackle, while having an opportunity to get pressure on the quarterback, generally won't be upfield far enough keep containment.

You can see this on the play where McCoy and Stylez White both almost get a sack on Carson Palmer. White makes a really good outside move on left side and turns the corner. McCoy comes crashing in and gets good pressure as well. But Palmer steps to his left a little to avoid the rush and is able to get the ball off. McCoy ends up running into Stylez and knocking him off his rush (Stylez was getting held by the way), gets a hit on the quarterback but can't bring home the sack. Black in the meanwhile loops inside for the TEX then comes back out of it and almost gets an interception.

On paper its a good play no doubt and we get off the field. But I'm going to go out on an limb and say the Bucs would rather have a sack there than just a pressure by McCoy.

Now we could blitz out of that package but we aren't doing much of that either. I think by my count we sent more than four only one time out of the 3-3-5 alignment yesterday. And this is when you have a statue like Palmer sitting back there who doesn't want to take off running ever and would rather throw the ball away than take a sack. It just didn't make any sense to me that Coach Morris wouldn't run more true four defensive lineman rushes in third and long situations and or blitz more to make Palmer uncomfortable. The truth is the Bucs got bailed out several times yesterday by the Bengals wide receivers just dropping the ball on plays that would have garnered first downs for them.

I am pretty sure it has to do with his philosophy versus mine. I think Coach Morris would rather lean towards coverage being the answer than pressure. That doesn't mean I'm right and he's wrong or vice versa. It just means that I personally think the Bucs should be taking a different approach and that it would give us greater results than we have had so far in terms of getting to the quarterback.

I will say that it was good to see both Brian Price and Michael Bennett getting more playing time yesterday and I thought both guys confirmed why they deserved it during the game. It was also good to see us running a few more run blitzes with the corners and strong safeties on early downs versus run personnel and formations. That will end up helping us in the long run.

One last thing before the individual break downs. The Bucs are running a lot more Pirate this year where the undertackle and the end to his side stunt inside to the A gap and B gap respectively. I like the stunt and believe it can help us against the run but guys are getting cut off from their gaps too much. One of the things that can help with this is if they back up off the ball about 3 inches or so. You don't want to back off so far that its easily noticeable but just enough to give yourself room to operate.

Here's the deal, the closer a defensive lineman is to the ball, the easier it is for an offensive lineman to cut them off from coming on an inside stunt. The point of contact happens much faster and if the offensive lineman is faster off the ball they have an immediate advantage. By backing up just a little bit it gives guys the chance to take a really good step inside, gain ground and rip through the stunt all before contact is made. And if the play happens to be coming to you it gives you the ability to get penetration up into the gap because you aren't having to go as flat on the movement.

Welp that's my tip for the day, now on to the breakdowns:

Kyle Moore: Kyle Moore had a productive day against the run with 5 tackles. But he also was one of the guys who got pushed off the ball too much. For one thing he is habitually late off the ball which always gives the offensive line an advantage. He also tends to end up too down the middle of blockers instead of on their edge. And finally he is just lazy with his hands both in the running game and on pass rush.

Moore has all the physical tools you like to see. He's strong and fast. He has good size. But his technique and get off need a lot of work. As productive as he was he could have had a dominant game. He had a chance to tackle Benson when the Bengals were backed up but he didn't rip off the block and Benson ran through his arms. That ended up being a big play as Benson ended up busting off a big run. Now it wasn't an easy play by any means but it would have been a much EASIER play if he didn't have someone hanging on to him as he tried to make the tackle.

Also he because he is late off the ball he rarely has an opportunity to try to turn the corner against an offensive tackle on pass. He ends up running right down the middle of guys much too much instead of using his athletic ability to make a move. It is rare to see him even attempt to do a rip move on pass rush unless its on third and long and that's just not going to get it done. The Bucs can't wait until third downs to get pressure on the quarterback, we need consistent pressure whenever they try to pass the ball even and maybe especially when its on play action pass.

He did have a really good EX game with White on the right side and got a nice hit on the quarterback. But for a guy who is starting and playing as much as he is he needs to step his pass rush game up a LOT more to justify it.

Gerald McCoy: I thought McCoy played better this game. He almost got his first sack on the aforementioned play out of the 3-3-5 alignment and he had another really good pass rush from undertackle where he got another hit on the quarterback. He also tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage. One thing I noticed is that although they continued to play him at end in the 3 man alignments, he didn't play defensive end in our four man lines even when the Bengals were backed up. I definitely think that is a step in the right direction of letting him develop more at undertackle.

One thing I was disappointed in however is that he fell in love with making inside moves for some reason yesterday. Time after time when he got a pass set he kept going inside and then wound up in a double team. I'm not sure if that was part of the game plan or what but one time when he and Price were both in the game on third down they both came inside and got wadded up at the line of scrimmage.

Part of being an undertackle is getting up the field and putting pressure on the guard to block your speed on an edge. That doesn't mean you can't make an inside move, but it does mean it should only be a change up and not your standard move. One of the major reasons why is that if the undertackle is getting up field, even if he turns the corner a little wide he provides the defensive end to his side the opportunity to fall back underneath him and get a sack or pressure on the quarterback. We used to call it a "natural game" where guys just play off each other to get pressure. But if the undertackle is consistently going inside then it opens up a lane between himself and the defensive end rushing outside for the quarterback to both step up into in order to avoid the rush and to be able to see his receivers down field.

Again, I'm not sure if it was just a part of the game plan but I think McCoy would be better served getting off and getting up the field the majority of the time when he reads pass.

Roy Miller: I'm one of the biggest Roy Miller fans you will find in the Tampa Bay area but I was disappointed in his play yesterday. Playing nosetackle in a 4-3 defense is a very hard job. You have to be able to anchor in and not get pushed off the ball in double teams. You have to be able to play scoop blocks where the back side guard is trying to cut you. And you have to be able to play the center reach blocks and maintain your gap.

That's not all you have to do but just those three things are so different in terms of the technique you have to use that it can make your head swim. Unfortunately yesterday it appeared that Miller's head was indeed swimming. He got pushed off the ball way too much against the double teams and scoop blocks. And he got reached at least three times where he lost his A gap. There is no one thing he was doing wrong because each block is so different.

The main thing on the reach blocks is that he needs to be strong with his outside hand and keep his hips turned inside instead of allowing the center to get him turned toward the sideline. You have to recognize what the center is trying to do and while not taking off running towards the side line you have to work more lateral than upfield to maintain your gap.

With the double team he just has to play lower and keep his feet in the ground. Trust me, I know its easier said than done. But once he feels the double he has to make sure he doesn't get pushed off the line of scrimmage and then feel the guy coming off to the linebacker and expand in that direction.

With the scoop block I know its hard because of the threat of a backside cut block but he has to be able to play off the guard and rip off so that he can get up into the gap and either make the play or make the running back have to go lateral rather than being able to continue down hill.

Miller has the ability to do all these things. I know because he has done them before. But yesterday he just seemed to consistently get pushed 4 or 5 yards off the ball. That's not winning football and he needs to get that fixed ASAP.

He did notch 1 tackle and 2 assists so it wasn't all bad.

Stylez G. White: I have been saying for weeks that White has to start making inside moves to get offensive tackles to stop setting for his outside rush. And for weeks nothing has changed. Now Stylez did some good things against the Bengals. He had an assisted tackle. He had a great EX game going with Moore where he comes in and blasts the left guard and takes out two blockers to free Moore up. And he also had that great outside rush from the left side which I talked about earlier.

But I'm going to make a point here. I counted 7 times when Stylez had an opportunity to make an inside move. By opportunity I mean the left tackle took a wide set, the B gap was open, and the left guard at least initially was not looking for him to come inside.


With a damn statue back there at quarterback!

Stylez won't have a better opportunity to sack a quarterback who has no inclination to try to move very much in the pocket. And Palmer isn't the type of guy to hold on to the ball and allow you to get to him consistently with an outside rush. And yet out of those 7 opportunities Stylez didn't try even once to take what the Bengals were giving him.

Maybe the most egregious opportunity squandered was with 45 seconds left in the first half. The left guard literally turns his back to the B gap and the left tackle opened up so wide with his shoulders turned towards the sideline that he practically had a neon sign flashing "SPIN ON ME PLEASE!!!" Instead White tried to go around the horn again...and didn't get there.

I have always had confidence in Stylez as a pass rusher. I was one of the ones who agreed with his assertion that he would have double digit sacks this year. But right now he is giving away sacks and pressures. Left tackles should be sending him thank you cards because he is letting them off the hook. And the defense is not as dominant as it should be because he continues to focus solely on beating guys outside.

There isn't a premier pass rusher in the NFL at defensive end who does not make inside moves several times again. Not a single one. Simeon Rice who was one of the most productive and fastest defensive ends in Buccaneers history would make three or four inside moves a game at least. You HAVE to do it not only because it gives you an opportunity for quick pressure, but also because it gives left tackles more than one look so they can't be comfortable in their pass sets.

Its just like a pitcher. If all you throw is fast balls, even if you throw heat, people are going to knock your shit out of the park. But if you throw a change up here or there you keep guys off balance. And you make it a lot easier on yourself.

Until Stylez starts throwing change ups our pass rush isn't going to consistently scare anybody. And there is absolutely no chance he will get to double digits.

It is what it is.

Michael Bennett: Bennett finally gets activated and all he does is go out there and get five good rushes and a pressure. When I say five good rushes I mean he beat his guy with a pass rush move. He only got one pressure because every other time Palmer got rid of the ball and it was completed. Its probably going to be ignored by most but his pressure came on third and five right before the half and forced Palmer to throw early and erratically to his receiver who couldn't haul it in. Instead of a first down the Bengals had to settle for a field goal and considering the final score and the fact that the Bengals had driven all the way down to the red zone with relative ease, that ended up being a pretty big play.

An interesting thing to note is that all of his good rushes came in the first half. Its not that he started rushing bad in the second half but more so he wasn't given many more opportunities. He did play some on base but other than a few plays inside he wasn't in the game much on 3rd and long.

Hopefully after they watch the film that will change because there is no doubt who had the best rushes on the team yesterday at defensive end. Bar none.

But all was not perfect. Even though he did get some good penetration in the run game, he also got shook out of his shoes on one play by Benson when he was unblocked. I'm sure he will catch some grief in the film room over that one.

He also pissed me off by running a shitty TEX. I don't know what they are teaching over at One Buc but it would do my heart some good to see just one defensive end get THREE STEPS or more up the field to set up the offensive tackle on a TEX game just once. I mean damn, there are college defensive lines running better TEX games than the Bucs D Line.

For the umpteenth time, the further the defensive end gets up the field, the better chance the TEX game has of winning. For everybody.

Enough said.

Brian Price: I love Price's get off but I hate his technique. Once he actually learns how to play nosetackle though he is going to give people fits. Right now he has to understand that some plays aren't his plays and instead they are opportunities for him to open it up for someone else.

He also needs to stay off the ground. He wasn't on it much this game but every time he is on the ground that is an opportunity to go and make a play hustling to the ball that is lost. As fast as Price is he should be racking up assisted tackles down the field. But you can't do that if you're lying on the field with some guy on your back.

As a pass rusher though? That guy is a MONSTER. He had two really good rushes and a hit on the quarterback when he rushed from the nosetackle position. Mind you he went from being over the nose to rushing and beating a guard on those three plays. You may not understand how hard that is but trust me its damned impressive.

Hell on the play where he gets hurt in the second half he beats the guard and just about gets to Palmer on a quick pass even though the guy literally tackles him. That's how he got hurt in the first place. It was amazing that the penalty wasn't called but still it was a very very impressive play by him.

On the negative side we had a zone blitz where he was supposed to cross the center's face to the opposite A gap. He did that initially but then came back into the the A gap he initially started in. The only problem is Moore's assignment on that zone blitz is to be in that A gap and so he created a bit of a log jam. That's why its important for guys to know WHY they are doing something on any given defense. He may not have gotten pressure in the opposite gap but there's a chance he would have opened things up for Moore and the other guys blitzing.

He also did not loops around for contain on a Pirate. That's a problem he has had since the preseason and it needs to get corrected. Otherwise we are giving up all containment to the quarterback with the line stunt and that ain't good!

All in all a good day for the rookie though. And I imagine his playing time will continue to increase. Of course if we played more four man line on third and long we could get to see what Price could really do when he doesn't have to start lined up over the center.

Just throwing that out there.

Tim Crowder: I had Crowder down for one tackle and two good rushes with one hit on the quarterback. He played a solid game like he always does. Sometimes Crowder doesn't fill up the stat sheet but then you go back and watch the game and he always seems to be where he is supposed to be. He didn't set up his TEX game but see my earlier rant on that one. Other than that not much to complain about his time in the game yesterday.

Well that's it for this week. If you have any questions just leave them in the comments and I will get to them as fast as I can.

Great win this week but now we gotta get ready for those Saints to come to town. Its definitely going to be a bigger challenge. You can count on that!