Bull Rush: Versatile Crowder Now On The BubbleFebruary 18th, 2010
By STEVE WHITE
Steve White spent every season of the Tony Dungy era playing defensive end for the Bucs. He’s spent countless hours in the film room with the likes of Warren Sapp, Rod Marinelli and more. Joe is humbled to have White, also a published author and blogger, as part of the JoeBucsFan.com team. Below is White’s weekly Bull Rush column that breaks down all things defense. It’s simply a can’t-miss read for the hardcore Bucs fan.
Today he looks at Tim Crowder.
Tim Crowder is a guy who resurrected his career last year with the Bucs. A second-round pick of the Broncos in 2007, he was waived by Denver right before the 2009 season and was at risk of being labeled a major bust. However, Crowder came in and made an impact as a backup almost immediately after being signed by the Bucs. He showed versatility by being able to play on both the right and left sides. He showed consistency by logging 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks as the primary reserve at defensive end. He also showed great effort through out the season.
Thinking back, I can’t remember a time when I thought Crowder looked tired while he was in the game, and he always gave great effort. The biggest compliment I could give him, however, is that you didn’t see a drop off in production when he came in the game. When you are a backup, the one thing you never want to be is to be seen as a weak link, and he definitely was not that. He even started four games in the course of the season and acquitted himself quite well.
One thing I would like to see more of from Crowder is a diversity of pass rush moves. He has good size at 6’4 and 275 pounds, but he relied on bull rushing way too much if you ask me. He is fast enough and athletic enough to work in some speed rushes. And by trying to take the corner on opposing offensive tackles, he makes his bull rush that much more effective. If a tackle knows that all you are going to do is run into him all game, then he knows all he has to do is set and brace for contact each play. When he isn’t sure if you will try to burn the corner or not, then he can’t get comfortable with his set. But with Crowder at times, it almost looked like he had a magnet pulling him into offensive tackles on passing plays. And while that worked at times, at others he got absolutely no push and no pressure on the quarterback.
I also would like to see him get better at running pass rush games. It’s all a matter of patience and timing when it comes to running a successful pass rush game. If you are a defensive end running a TEX game (tackle penetrates, end loops inside) the one thing you HAVE to do is get up field far enough to give the defensive the tackle a fair chance to penetrate and get to the offensive tackle’s back before you loop inside. By being patient, it will be a lot more likely that when you do loop inside the guard will stay with the defensive tackle, and the A-gap will be yours for the taking.
But Crowder showed a tendency to always want to loop inside too fast. That meant the offensive tackle never sat back, which meant the defensive tackle never had a chance to penetrate so the guard was easily able to switch off the defensive tackle and come back and block Crowder going in the A-gap. That equals a wasted rush and you never want to have a wasted rush, especially on 3rd-and-long.
You would think that after the strong season Crowder turned in as a backup and with the injury to starter Jimmy Wilkerson, that he would be a lock to be on the roster next season. But having been a backup for most of my career, I can tell you that he is probably still on the bubble more than most fans would think.
For one thing the Bucs drafted Kyle Moore last year out of USC and they are probably going to be pushing him to get playing time this season. For another, its been widely acknowledged that we have to upgrade our defensive line. That means you can expect the Bucs to bring in some more ends either via free agency or the draft. And one thing you never can know or control as a player is how one of those other guys will perform.
Now I like Tim Crowder. And I think he can be a good player for us, but he is going to have to work out this offseason as if his career depended on it because, at least with the Bucs, it just might.
The one thing he can control his how much better he gets. If he works to get better as a pass rusher and continues to stay in great shape he will make it awfully hard for the Bucs to move someone in front of him. But if he looks at it as if he has arrived and starts cutting any corners or gets complacent at all, he may look up and find himself at the bottom of the depth chart.
Such is the nature of the beast for backups in the NFL. Considering the passion I saw him play with for much of this season, however, I think it’s safe to assume that he realizes this and will push himself accordingly.