Oh, The (Mis)Tackling!December 18th, 2013
Joe watched in amazement Sunday how the Bucs struggled to bring 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Frank Gore to the ground. Those were two reasons the 49ers dominated the Bucs.
But Joe wrote that off, initially, as a fluke. Kaepernick is one of the hardest guys to tackle in the NFL. The dude is big, strong and elusive. It’s not like trying to tackle an immobile object like Matty Ice.
A lot of Bucs were peppered with questions about this subject after the game. Joe talked to good guy middle linebacker Mason Foster and asked him if the poor tackling was, in part, because Kaepernick is simply one of the toughest guys to bring down? Foster sort of agreed with Joe, saying all teams struggle with Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson because they are big, or in Wilson’s case, just shifty and quick.
Hey, sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other guy. They get paid, too. So Joe walked away from the locker room thinking the sloppy tackling was just a one-game thing.
Well, it is not.
Joe was sifting through Ben Stockwell’s piece on ProFootballFocus.com. He charted the game Sunday and it appears the Bucs have had trouble tackling people all season long.
Tackling woes return in spades
With two games to go the Buccaneers have already missed more tackles (129) this season than they missed all of last season (122). Dropping from 169 missed tackles to 122 from 2011 to 2012 was one of the big reasons behind their step forwards on defense last year, but some of those troubles have returned in bunches this season. Notching 15 missed tackles yesterday they hit double digits for the fifth time this season and only just fell short of their season high of 16 set in their agonizing defeat in Seattle back in Week 9. Six defenders missed multiple tackles with three of those players manning the secondary. In just this one game the Tampa Bay defense missed almost as many (17) as they missed in the last three weeks of the 2012 season which included a heavy 41-0 defeat in New Orleans.
Now this really, really surprised Joe. Bucs commander Greg Schiano is a stickler for proper tackling and during training camp, long stretches of each practice are devoted to tackling. The Bucs practice tackling daily.
How is it a coaching staff that devotes so much time to the art of tackling can the team be missing so much? Yes, yes, yes, part of it is the guys the Bucs are going up against. But that wouldn’t add up to a season-long series of Karlos Pena-like whiffing by the defenders.
Still, with all the missed tackles, the defense isn’t the problem for the Bucs. In the big picture, that’s actually a relief.