There are times, not many but a few times that I see something that I probably should comment on but instead I hold my tongue. One of those times came up last night when I read this article on TampaBay.com. It's about how the Bucs plan on making some changes to get their pass rush going. I don't have a problem with any of the things they are talking about doing (they sounded awfully familiar anyway), but some of the assertions made about WHY they are doing them were somewhat dubious. But I figured hey, no need to make a fuss about it as long as it gets fixed.
Then this morning I read this article over at TBO...
Now I'm going to tread lightly on this one but read that article then read my Bull Rush post from Monday and ask yourself if my suggestions and their suggestions don't sound an awful lot alike. I will just leave it there and let the readers decide for themselves.
But what actually compels me to blog about this isn't the fact that someone may or may not be reading my blog. What compels me to blog about this is that there seems to be a faulty premise being espoused by the Bucs at least publicly and if believe really believes what they are telling reporters then I still don't think the pass rush problems the Buccaneers are having will get fixed.
McCoy has drawn the biggest percentage of double-teams among the defensive front four this season. So Wash said the Bucs will try to move him around more in rush packages.
"We're going to do some more things to give him some freedom,'' Wash said. "Maybe it's not exactly, I wouldn't say sound, or worrying about a quarterback scramble. We're going to make sure he can get where he needs to get to rather than slow him down in the system. What happens is, if he's in the three-technique, the center slides to him. In the odd front, he had two knockdowns.
That's from the tampabay.com column
"And how do you become productive? Well, technique and opportunity have to meet. So we'll have the different combinations, the different use of guys around him, and see if we can find that right combination.'' The previous combinations often resulted in McCoy facing two or even three blockers. That created a lot of opportunities for sacks for other players, but in most cases they failed to capitalize on them.
That's from the TBO column.
Here's the truth, Ive watched every game and I don't think any team has changed their pass protection rules because of McCoy. In fact I'm about as close to being sure of it as you can get next to sitting in the offensive line meeting rooms of the opposing teams. But if you don't know what the opposing team protection scheme is and you keep sending McCoy to the side where the center is already supposed to slide, then yeah I guess he WILL keep getting double teamed.
Let's talk about the Falcons game for a moment. I went back to chart where the center slid when the Matt Ryan was either in the shot gun or it was 3rd and medium to long. There were 25 plays that fit into that category out of the 36 passes Ryan threw. Want to know how many instances there were out of 25 where the center slid in a different direction than where the formation dictated?
Three times out of twenty five.
But here's the kicker. Of those three times, Gerald McCoy was still away from the slide twice AND on the third he was lined up as a nose in a three man line.
It is clear that while the Falcons may have been concerned about McCoy's pass rush, they stayed consistent to their protections rules during the game.
And that's true for most teams the Bucs have faced thus far. But the what the problem ACTUALLY is comes back to McCoy being lined up to the center slide even when its predictable. That along with how much we went back to going with a 3-3-5 again after two games where it had been used sparingly.
McCoy lined up 4 times to the slide in a four man line when the Bucs should have known the slide was going that way against the Falcons. That doesn't sound like a high number until you realize that of the 25 clear passing situations the Bucs used a three man line 10 other times. So on the flip side there were 9 times during the game where it was an obvious passing down and McCoy lined up correctly based on the formation and had a one on one pass rush opportunity.
What happens if he gets 5 more bites at the apple? How about 10 more? Think he might be more productive if put in a better position to be so?
But let's be real here for two seconds. Ndamukong Suh is looking like a monster out there with 6.5 sacks already but teams aren't sliding to him on every pass. Are you really going to try to convince everyone that teams are showing more respect to McCoy who doesn't have ANY sacks?
If the Bucs really think the problem is that McCoy is being double teamed too much then they need to ask themselves why in the hell they aren't telling him to line up away from the center slide on definite passing downs.
I actually went back and watched the first Panthers game last night. And while they weren't consistent in their pass protection according to formation, they WERE consistent in having the center slide to the 1 technique. It just so happened that for that game the Bucs decided to have McCoy at the 1 technique quite a bit. But whether he was there or someone else was, all but one time the center slid to the 1 technique on obvious passing situations.
But, and here's is really the most damning indictment to me, even IF teams were sliding to McCoy all the time instead of following their normal protection rules, that kind of predictability should be something the Bucs have taken advantage of by now. Up above you will see two versions of a simple ass TOM pass rush game with the two defensive tackles. About the only time a TOM game won't work is when the center either sets in the middle and just looks for traffic, or he isn't consistent with where he slides.
If its a fact that the center is sliding to McCoy every time then the easiest thing in the world is to run a TOM game where the defensive tackle opposite McCoy gets penetration to the center's back and shoves him while McCoy takes a quick step up field to set it up then loops around the guard on the opposite side almost assuredly coming unblocked to the quarterback. And the great thing about that particular pass rush game is that it gives McCoy a chance while he is looping to notice if it might be a screen.
But have we run any TOM games so far?
So here is my thing, I think Dekoda Watson has a bunch of natural pass rush ability and so does Quincy Black. If the Bucs want to use them as actual defensive ends on passing situations then by all means feel free. But the truth is this, if all they are gonna do is continue to use them in a 3-3-5 alignment then to me it will still be more of a gimmick than a fix. To actually fix what ails the pass rush the Bucs need a left end that can pass rush on all 3 downs and they need to keep McCoy away from the center slide as much as can be predicted. And if in fact teams are sliding to McCoy regardless of where he lines up then after a drive or two that should be sniffed out and taken advantage of.
All this other stuff is just Mickey Mouse bullshit that looks pretty on paper but ain't worth a damn on the field. Get four guys who can pass rush, teach them protections, line up and let them whup people's ass.
That's the formula. Hopefully someone at One Buc starts using it.