The Flaw Of The Bucs SecondaryDecember 13th, 2012
Short of sounding like a cranky old man without his morning caffeine waiting for a plane to take off from Tampa International for a cold business trip to the Midwest, one thing Joe misses about the new, homogenized NFL under the watch of
warden commissioner Roger Goodell is how the game is going the way of seven-on-seven, summer-league flag football.
The very essence of the game, punishing physicality, Goodell is doing his best to legislate out of the sport.
If Joe — and millions of football fans — wanted to watch ballet, we’d already be at the Straz Center for Performing Arts.
One glaring thing Joe has noticed is Bucs corners let opposing wide receivers run free as an Alaskan antelope from the snap of the ball. Joe so misses the Mel Blount-style of defense that leveled receivers at the line, thus all but rendering them useless for a play.
This very topic has bubbled to the surface in a TBO.com Bucs Q&A.
Q: According to the rules, a cornerback has 5 yards to disrupt the receiver’s rhythm when beginning their route. A CB also can line up 1 yard off the line of scrimmage. Why is it that the Bucs’ corners basically stand close enough to the receiver that they can know what toothpaste he uses, then at the snap of the ball, they open up their hips and let the receiver go? Every receiver gets into his pattern uninterrupted by Bucs corners. Look at the teams with high sack totals. Their corners are basically inside the receiver’s jersey up till and sometimes past the 5-yard mark. Even more annoying, the Bucs corners try to run with the receivers and keep getting torched. If they can’t keep up with the receivers by just running with them, why would they not try and disrupt them? Pass defense is a mixture of pressure up front and coverage on the backside. The guys up front have no shot at getting to the QB, when the corners are taught not to engage the receiver. You can’t play Cover/Tampa 2 if you don’t re-route/disrupt the receiver. It’s a joke when I hear how the Bucs are thin at corner, without Aqib Talib and Eric Wright. They were at their worst when the two played together (Giants game, anyone?) And to think, the Bucs told Jonathan Joseph they weren’t interested in his services. Wow.
— Sean, Cherry Hill, N.J.
A: Everything depends on the particular coverage that’s chosen for each individual play. The corners will sometimes play tight to the line to give the impression they’re playing man but then back off into a zone. The Bucs use a lot of mixed coverages and in a lot of those cases the corner’s job is to release or let the safeties take over after a few yards. That’s done to protect against a run. I agree that the Bucs would probably help their pass rushers by playing a little more physical, but with the current group’s inexperience and lack of elite size, that may be asking too much of them right now. Something else to consider right now is the fact that the Bucs biggest objective at this point in the secondary is to keep the play in front of them. That’s how you eliminate the big plays and they have cut down on those in recent weeks.
— Woody Cummings
Look, the Bucs secondary is as wretched as wretched can be right now. Why the heck doesn’t Bill Sheridan and Ron Cooper, Bucs defensive coordinator and defensive backs coaches, respectively, try this method?
Better yet: Why the hell hasn’t this been done before now? Joe would hope Sheridan and/or Cooper are at their wits’ end trying anything to help an embattled secondary.
Why not jam the receivers at the line? Then again, the more Joe thinks of this, why in the world wasn’t this done, uh, Joe doesn’t know, three months ago rather than waiting until the team is out of the playoff hunt?