Monday, November 15, 2010

Bull Rush

First congratulations to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who doubled their win total from last year with a win yesterday over the Carolina Panthers.

I imagine there are some folks today who still aren't ready to give the Bucs any credit because they have supposedly played a weak schedule and then there are others who will argue that they are going to win the division. I find myself somewhere in between at this point. I have to admit that even for all my optimism I didn't predict that they would sweep the Panthers. On the other hand I do see areas in need of major improvement if this team wants to truly get into the playoffs this year. So while I still think that 8-8 is about right, I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised by a 9-7 or even a 10-6.

I definitely think either record is now in reach and that's a testament both to Coach Morris and his staff having a good plan and the players believing in and going out and executing that plan.

As for yesterday's game I have just a few thoughts before the individual breakdowns.

First its obvious that all the talk about showcasing Gerald McCoy last week was just that, talk. The Bucs didn't do anything new that could possibly be construed as "showcasing" his talents as far as pass rushing goes and if anything to me they just stayed the course.

Second because we are winning more than we are losing I am willing to accept that the Bucs will continue to feature a 3-3-5 alignment. What I am not willing to accept is the notion that they ALSO care about getting sacks. The two are just about mutually exclusive at this point. If they want to keep running the 3-3-5 that's fine, but at least admit that the goal in that case is to cover, not pressure the quarterback.

Yesterday out of 14 non two minute 3rd down plays the Bucs used a 3 man line 9 times. That doesn't mean that they only rushed 3, but it does mean only 3 defensive linemen were in the game. All year they have run the same thing and they had 1 sack to show for it from Quincy Black. Now they have 2 thanks to Ronde Barber.

So you do the math, two sacks in 9 games, none by a defensive lineman, but they used it 9 out of 14 times on third down against the Panthers.

Thirdly it appears that the Panthers did indeed slide their center to the 1 technique each time and they few times McCoy was at a three technique with a four man line he got one on ones.

And fourth, the Bucs actually ran a TOM game yesterday....once. It was at the end of the game and for whatever reason they blitzed Geno Hayes to the same side as the looper, but it definitely happened. If you want to see it for yourself its the last Panthers drive with 50 seconds left to go in the game after Aqib Talib was hit with a bogus pass interference call. And coincidentally enough the Bucs ran it with McCoy at the 1 I drew it up, and had Tim Crowder as the penetrator at three technique.

Aye man, I'll never know for sure if anybody is reading my posts over at One Buc but I do know some things are looking mighty similar on film.

Of course I still have to criticize it because McCoy didn't pop the center to make him sit down for a count before he looped around. Because he looped around on the snap Crowder wasn't able to really get penetration the way he could have because the center followed McCoy right into Crowder's penetration.

But hey, at least they tried!

Having said all that, the defensive line still had a very productive day so on to the individual breakdowns.

Tim Crowder: Crowder started in place of an injured Kyle Moore and I thought he really played well. He wasn't perfect but I had him with 2 tackles and an assist to go along with four really good rushes including one that forced a holding call. About the only criticism I had was that he lost contain twice but I'll continue to say that, injury or not, he and Michael Bennett are better options to start at left end than Moore.

Gerald McCoy: It's really hard to criticize a guy who had 3 tackles and 1 assist, a caused fumble, 2 PBUs, a pressure, a hit on the quarterback, and 2 other good rushes.

But I will do so anyway.

McCoy had some plays where he was in the backfield but he also had some plays where I felt he got pushed off the ball a little too much. He also got caught peeking inside twice where the ball ended up running right through his hole and one of those runs went for 18 yards. And while he didn't get as many one on one pass rushing situations with a four man line, he has to make more out of his handful of opportunities.

In my opinion McCoy had a really good game against the Panthers, but he could have had a great game and that's what I am looking for out of him.

Roy Miller: I have been on Miller's ass for the last four or five games so its only fair that I show him some love when I think he's played well. He still got pushed around a couple of times yesterday but it was a rarity instead of the norm. He ended up with a tackle and two assists by my count but more importantly he held up well against the double teams and reach blocks and didn't allow himself to lose a lot of ground.

He did, however, forget to loop around on a Pirate AGAIN. I don't get why he keeps having that brain fart but sooner or later the Bucs will pay for it big time.

But aside from that I was really impressed with Miller's play yesterday. Hopefully he can find some consistency now.

Stylez G. White: I only had Stylez down for one tackle which was a tackle for loss. But on the other hand I had him with 2 pressures, a hit on the quarterback and 3 other good rushes. As much as I talk about McCoy the biggest loser in the 3-3-5 on third downs might be White. Every week he proves that he is the Bucs best and most consistent pass rusher but with the inside gaps open in the 3 man alignment then unless the Bucs blitz he is generally looking at a double team every time. Not the best thing for a guy playing for a new contract I'd say.

It was nice to see him almost get that sack with a quick inside move though. More of that on early downs will definitely help his productivity.

Michael Bennett: Bennett saw an expanded role both on regular defense and on third downs. And with that expanded role I had him with 1 tackle 4 assists, and 2 good rushes. He also showed a knack for getting up field and forcing the ball back inside to his help. One thing he still needs to work on is losing contain when he goes inside from the left. McCoy probably gets a sack on one play if Bennett stays outside on an edge rush. But at the same time its hard to knock him because he beat his guy clean and got good presure on the quarterback as well.

If the kid keeps progressing and keeps getting more reps he's going to be a problem. Seriously.

Al Woods: I'm really starting to like this Woods kid. Its only his second week with the team and he's a rookie but you can't even tell watching him play. And for the second week in a row he was productive with a tackle and 2 assists. Obviously he still has to get better, a lot better, technique wise. But so far he definitely looks the part of NFL defensive lineman. Color me impressed.

Alex Magee: Magee was active but didn't play as much as Woods and I think I saw why yesterday. Evidently the Bucs are trying to make Magee into an end rather than an interior guy and lets just say....I don't see it so far. Doesn't mean he can't change my mind. But at the moment he doesn't appear to have the athleticism I would associate with a 4-3 defensive end, especially in the Bucs kind of scheme.

By the same token he didn't look near as big as I thought he would either so maybe he is more of a tweener type. I guess time will tell though.

Well that's it for today, I'll look for you in the comments section.


  1. Al Woods puzzles me. He was a fourth round draft pick this year, but got cut, signed to the Steelers practice squad - and now he's playing a lot for the Bucs, and not bad either. How does that happen? Did the Steelers and Saints just evaluate him poorly?

  2. Hey Steve,
    I thought we played a good game that would have been much better if we can learn to get off the field on 3rd and long so many times we had them right where we want them and they pulled out a first down.DAMN! DAMN!! DAMN!!!
    I have read that coaches have a grading system for players on every play, can you give us fans some incite into this grading system. Is it numbers based, position based, tackle based or something different?
    I too like Al Woods he looks enormous on the field. He looks like he has quick feet and is always moving toward the ball. Wish we could say that about all of our Defense, we used to could but not in a few years now. IMO
    Another great post thanks Steve.

  3. Great read Steve. Now if Wash gets fired at the end of the season, would you contact One Buc and try to get an interview for the job? Us fans would be all for your hiring. Thanks!

  4. @Sander You never know sometimes. Maybe he was a bad fit in NO or maybe he wasn't a good pro at first and didn't learn how to handle being an NFL player until he was cut. Hell I was a sixth round pick that was cut so I don't have room to talk but sometimes it just happens that way. But I remember him from LSU and thought he always had potential. What matters for him now is that he makes the most of this opportunity.

    @RustyRhino Different coaches grade differently. Some grade based on whether or not you lined up correctly and were where you were supposed to be during the play. That's what it seems like the Bucs are doing now. Coach Marinell had a different grading system though. He wanted to know if you were a factor on any given play. You either got a plus for being a factor, nothing if you weren't a factor, or a minus if you screwed up or loafed. Basically you could play a whole game, do everything technically right, but have a shitty factor grade because you didn't make any plays.

    That to me is the better way to do it because it motivates guys to make plays.

    @ABucsFan LOL I will, as I always do, reach out to see if they want my help. But again if Wash is out I think they might be better off going after an experienced D Line coach that has a proven track record of developing pass rushers.

  5. Hey Steve,
    Thanks for the input on the grading system, I like the sound of Coach Marinelli's system I can see how it would motivate you to make something happen from "your" assigned area of the field. Earn +'s or watch from the sideline!

    I hope you would you at least think about being the assistant DL coach in Tampa to get some of that "coaching experience" and work to take over the job when your fully experienced!

  6. I totally agree with ABucsFan, you would make an excellent coach for the Bucs D-Line...

  7. Haha, I agree with everyone else. I have sent comments on, several times, suggesting they read your blog. You have all of the fans endorsements, I don't see why they couldn't at least consider hiring you as an assistant? I mean, look at all the time and effort you put in for free? You obviously know what your talking about and I think you could be that "Sapp" personality that holds people accountable. You have my vote Steve. Another great post by the way.

  8. Thanks for having your blog Steve, I've been able to "borrow..." *ahem* use many of your nuggets of wisdom. Once I am fired at the end of the year I'll tell Mr. Morris to look into using your stuff, shoot that's what I do! Just don't tell anyone.... thanks! Who knows maybe even you'll get hired to replace me!

  9. I always look forward to your Bull Rush each week. Thanks for the time and effort you put in to it.

    Al Woods looks like he has exactly what was said at the draft... potential. I think that may be why he was cut/practice squad guy to begin the year. Teams saw the potential, but weren't sure if they could mold it into an NFL DT. Looks like they may not have had to as the potential is coming into it's own. I think he was a big part of the goal line stand late in the 4th.

  10. Steve, great article. I was incensed at Tim Crowder on a play about 8 min into the 1st quarter. Question.. If a OT crashes inside and you have no tigh end in your side... aren't you supposed to follow the play from the back side? Crowder just stood there and then got beat by the running back cutting back for a bunch of yards. I just think that is a hussle play!

  11. @aavila3 I believe I know what play you're talking about but its more complex than that and that's why it helps sometimes to know what is going on. The Bucs had a zone blitz called and on that play Crowder is supposed to take a read step and then take a pass drop. McCoy is supposed to loop outside for contain. If the play goes to them Crowder is supposed to fall back inside and try to make the play from there.

    But the Panthers kept a TE in to block McCoy so he couldn't get outside for contain. And the play was away so Crowder kind of got caught in no man's land when the running back cut back. He still should have kept contain and I would have graded him down for it but it wasn't an effort play. He was put into a bad position because of the call but he didn't make it better by not attacking the running back when he saw him coming back.

    And I'll add this, in every game since Crowder has been here starting last year I don't know if I have ever seen him loaf. I can't say that for all of our defensive linemen that's for sure.

  12. Steve, thanks for all you do for us fans here in Tampa. I am surprised that none of the players (Dlinemen) have contacted you. I would like to see them ALL spend a couple weeks with you in the offseason to get the real scoop on how it's done. I too have expressed my thoughts about you and your blog to Coach Morris & the Team. As a season ticket holder, I only made it as far as an intern, but he said he would pass it along. I feel that the Bucs owe it to us for standing behind them in hard times, to at least correct deficiencies where possible. No one is asking them to get rid of players, but to just tap into all the available talent of coaching perspective of former players like you that only want to help them get better. It baffles me that with all of the changes Coach Rah has made that he won't touch the D line situation. 6-3 is great but where would they be if the D line was playing 50% better than they have been?

  13. Why are you not our DLine coach? WHY!?

  14. Steve, what do you think about moving SGW to LE and Bennett to RE on passing downs? I remember when White came here, he played LDE on passing downs and was extremely productive on a line with Gaines Adams, Ryan Sims, and Chris Hovan.

    I'm no expert, but Bennett looks like our most explosive DE, and he needs to see more snaps on third down!

    Also, what do you think about moving McCoy to NT on passing downs? I could be wrong, but McCoy seems to be VERY disruptive when he's playing NT imho. Not sure who we'd play at UT in this situation :/ (woods?)

    Also, every time I see us in the 3-3-5 I'm about to have an aneurysm! It's not working and it's not improving!

    Oh, and what do you think about Talib's hit on Clausen?