Bull Rush: Nothing Seemed Too Much For McCoySeptember 13th, 2010
By STEVE WHITE
Former Buccaneers defensive end Steve White (1996-2001) is a devoted student of the game. He’s even authored a coaching guide and coached D-linemen at the University of South Florida. And his Passing on the Game blog is fun stuff. After all those years breaking down film with former defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and the other architects and legends of the Bucs’ defense, White shares his knowledge with JoeBucsFan.com readers in his must-read Bull Rush column.
Today, White goes deep into analyzing all things defensive line out the Bucs-Browns opening day win for Tampa Bay.
Joe advises you to grab a cold beverage, tell the boss you’re taking a break and enjoy. There is nothing comparable on the Bucs (or any team) anywhere.
It sure as hell feels a lot better writing this column after a season opening win!
The Buccaneers went out there and put the hammer to the Browns on our home field to start the season off right. There were definitely some mistakes made, and we are going to have to make quite a few corrections before the next game, but a win is a win dammit. And after suffering through last season every Bucs fan should be walking around with their chest pushed out a little.
The defensive line was particularly instrumental in this win. On a hot muggy day, and with only seven guys suited up, they brought the heat to Jake Delhomme.
While they didn’t get any sacks, they put so many hits on him that by the end of the game he was limping around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Before I get to the individual breakdowns, let me give some general thoughts about the performance both positive and negative.
On the positive side the defense as a whole and the defensive line in particular swarmed to the ball yesterday. Few things get me more hyped that seeing four or five or six guys tackling the ball carrier at the same time. Several times yesterday I jumped up out of my seat I was so fired up from watching groups of Buccaneers putting the wood to the Browns’ ball carriers (along with a few instances of friendly fire, lol). We have to keep that going for the rest of the season if we want to really be considered a great defense.
The defense also came home with three turnovers, two of which the defensive line had a hand in. On both of the interceptions Delhomme threw there was a defensive lineman in his face applying pressure. And as the saying goes, pressure bursts pipes. In addition we had a defensive lineman force a fumble that unfortunately we didn’t recover.
That’s what you call Buc Ball!
Another thing I noted was that on at least 20 plays, excluding the final series when we went prevent, the Bucs ran some version of a 3-man defensive line.
Sometimes we had four defensive linemen in the game and stood one up in a 3-4 look. Other times we just went with three linemen in the game period. A few other times we had a four-man line, but it appeared that one, and in one case two interior linemen, spied the quarterback instead of rushing.
Now it’s no secret that I’m the opposite of a fan of a three-man rush. I think it makes it too hard to put pressure on the quarterback and the tradeoff in coverage, which is generally negligible, doesn’t justify it. Thankfully, many times we blitzed out of a three-man look or at the least sent Quincy Black as a fourth rusher.
I would still say the results were mixed, though. Black simply is not a guy who rushes offensive tackles well. He’s much better blitzing when you can get him matched up on a running back. But I will say that several times the defensive line did find a way to get get pressure while only rushing three. And that to me was damned impressive.
Another thing of note is that we showed a “Big” defensive line at times. There were only four guys in the game but McCoy was at defensive end with Roy Miller and Ryan Sims inside and Kyle Moore at the other end. I don’t know if it was something special just for the Browns, since they seemed to like to go with a lot of two tight end formations, or what. But at the least it will give the rest of our opponents something else to have to worry about.
And finally I will again attempt to send some kind of subliminal message to the Buccaneers coaches and or defensive linemen, plus in this case Quincy Black, about how to run a TEX game. …The outside rusher on a TEX game should move closer and read this closely.
THE LATER YOU GO INSIDE THE BETTER!
It doesn’t help anybody when the outside rusher goes early. What happens is that the offensive tackle can stop his kick step and sit on the defensive tackle who is trying to get to his back and the guard who was initially blocking the defensive tackle can now come off to the outside rusher — now looping inside — and easily block them before they can even make a move. Worse yet, the earlier the outside rusher loops inside, the more ground they have to give to try to get around the guard.
Now if the outside rusher runs upfield, then the tackle keeps kicking back to pass block him, which allows the defensive tackle to get to his back and now the guard is so vested in blocking the defensive tackle he may not even notice the looper coming inside. And because everyone is now deeper instead of having to give ground, the outside rusher can basically plant off their outside foot and run a straight line inside to the quarterback.
Why the guys at One Buc still haven’t figured this out really and truly escapes me. Especially when that pass rush game can be so effective and productive.
Ok, I’m going to try to let that be my last time talking about it, but it really and truly drives me nuts every time I see them running it wrong.
As for the individual breakdowns:
Stylez G. White: Stylez had a very productive day. By my count he had four solo tackles, two assisted tackles, three pressures and two hits on the quarterback. In actuality, he was even more productive than his stats would suggest because one of those hits on Delhomme injured him in the first half. It was on the same play where Delhomme threw the momentum-turning interception to Ronde Barber that got us in position to score a touchdown before the half and cut the Browns’ lead to 4.
He also was good in coverage several times and he was running to the ball all over the field. He had one of the more physical plays when he took on a pulling guard and stuffed him in the hole and still was athletic enough to come off the block and make a very physical tackle on the running back. I know in the past people have questioned Stylez’s ability to play the run, but he was lights out yesterday. Banner day all around.
Gerald McCoy: It’s hard not to get excited about this kid. I keep trying to talk myself out of building up too many expectations for the rookie, but when you see him playing like a seasoned vet, it’s hard not to. By my count he had a tackle for loss, another solo tackle and an assisted tackle with two pressures and two hits on the quarterback. He also drew a holding penalty against the Browns because of his penetration. And he played all over the line.
In addition to his regular undertackle duties, he lined up at nose tackle and both defensive end spots at times in both four-man and three man-lines. And none of it seemed to be too much for him.
He still has to work on his technique when it comes to slip blocks, and he needs to work on penetrating more when he has a line stunt that calls for him to go inside to the next gap. But for that to be his first real NFL action, the guy showed me a lot. Now it’s a matter of consistency. He has to be able to do it next week and every week after as well. If he can do that he’s going to be special, that’s for sure.
Roy Miller: I thought Roy had a very steady game. I had him with one solo and two assisted tackles. He anchored down well when facing double teams. He also showed a lot of hustle getting to the ball. He didn’t get that many opportunities to rush the passer but he did have at least one really good rush.
On the flip side he got hit with a WHAM block on that long run by the Browns’ Jerome Harrison. A WHAM block is when they trap one of the defensive tackles, usually with a tight end who goes in motion before the snap. Ideally you want to get underneath that block and make the ball spill. Failing that you at least want to take it on strong so the hole doesn’t open up really wide. They kind of caught Roy slipping, however, and he was upfield too much to be a factor on the play.
In my opinion, Roy should consider tilting a little bit more in his stance when he is lined up on the center. It seems like he is just a little too squared to the line of scrimmage. And in that case he is giving the center and onside guard too much surface to hit when they block him. Also, it will help him to get more push upfield when they try to have the center reach-block him to his outside shoulder. That’s just my suggestion, though. Overall, he did a very good job.
Kyle Moore: Moore had a decent game as well. He was another guy who didn’t play a lot of snaps because we went so much 3-man line, but while he was in he was productive. I had him with three solo tackles and a couple of good rushes. One thing I will caution him on is getting too far behind a quarterback on a pass rush. One time when he was lined up on the right side he was at least five yards deeper than Delhomme in his pass rush. The defense is playing with 10 at that point and there is nothing you can do from back there.
Tim Crowder: Even though he was a backup, Crowder was all over the field. He had a forced fumble, he broke up a pass to the tight end, he had a couple of pressures, a hit on the quarterback and he even forced a holding penalty on an offensive tackle after a really good bull rush flushed Delhomme from the pocket. He almost had another outstanding play, but he barely missed the running back for a tackle for a loss from the backside on a trap play. If he keeps playing like that I have a feeling he will see his playing time increase.
Brian Price: Price showed some of the skills that compelled the Bucs to draft him at the beginning of the 2nd round of this year’s draft. He was lightning quick off the ball and he showed really good quickness pass rushing through some double teams. In fact, he was the guy, rushing from the nose position, that flashed in front of Delhomme on the interception he threw to E.J. Biggers. He also added two tackles, including one on a running play where he split a double team. He looked like he has finally gotten his legs back under him and I look forward to seeing more of him next week.
Ryan Sims: Sims played mostly nose tackle which is where I think he is most comfortable anyway. He didn’t have a terribly productive day but he did hold the point well versus double teams for the most part, and he got a tackle showing good hustle running down the field to get to the ball carrier.
In closing, there’s one more thing I will address. The Bucs chose to dress only seven defensive linemen yesterday. It ended up working out ok, but I have to wonder if that’s why we went to a three-man rush so many times.
It’s really hard to for me to understand how not having Michael Bennett, probably the second best pass rushing defensive end on the roster, active helped us yesterday. I know that special teams make a difference and that we were facing one of the most dangerous return men in the NFL yesterday in Joshua Cribbs.
But A), I have seen Bennett on special teams in the preseason and he seemed to do a pretty good job. And B), I just do not believe that all three safeties that did not play a down of defense yesterday were absolutely necessary for special teams. Especially when one of those guys got a penalty and almost got a stupid personal foul after there was a fumble on another occasion.
It worked out ok yesterday mainly because we won. But there is going to come a time when we have to rush four guys and get pressure on the quarterback all day long, especially in the home heat.
Quincy Black is a very talented linebacker but he is not going to beat an offensive tackle on a pass rush very many times, if at all. So I hope they work the numbers out better in the future because I can’t see dressing seven defensive linemen working for very long this season.