Bull Rush: Collective Performance Wins Up Front

November 10th, 2009

Former Bucs DE Steve White

Former Bucs DE Steve White

JoeBucsFan.com analyst

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 now 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 defensive line. It’s simply a can’t-miss read for the hardcore Bucs fan.


That’s the one word that kept coming to my mind watching the Buccaneers’ defensive line Sunday, particularly in the second half. It’s a word that hasn’t been generally associated with them at all during this season, and yet here they were dominating what most people thought was a far superior team.

For me it wasn’t all that much of a surprise, honestly. In my scouting report last week, I wrote that most of the matchups would favor the Bucs. Still, you have to get excited when you finally see guys performing at a level that you know they can. And this was truly a collective effort by the whole unit.

Its funny because just last week I had a back and forth with a JoeBucsFan commenter about whether we have enough talent on the defensive line to be successful. Somehow I don’t think we will be having that same conversation this week.

Greg (Stylez) White and Chris Hovan were both particularly dominant pass rushing the Green Bay offensive line.They were good beating guys one on one, and they also worked great as a tandem running some really nice pass rush games. Remember when I suggested that an EX game would be open for them? They ran, by my count, two of them yesterday, and as a team we got sacks out of both of them. One of them by Ryan Sims who benefited from Hovan making Aaron Rodgers step up. And they just about came home with a safety on a sack just after the start of the second half.

Hovan was a monster in the middle, getting great push and working hands moves, even forcing a holding call which denied the Packers a first down. White was physical all day in his rushes, but he found the time to work in a spin move off his speed rush, almost collecting yet another sack.

But Hovan and White had plenty of company getting after Rodgers. When you get six sacks all from the defensive line in the second half, then you know those guys have it going. I was particularly impressed with the rookie Michael Bennett who totally PWNED Packers tight end Donald Lee on a bull rush to get Rodgers on the ground. But this kid also had great get off all game and made some nice plays in the running game, as well.

Sims set the tone early in the game wrapping around Wilkerson on kind of a natural EX game and busting Rodgers in his mouth to force an incomplete pass. Roy Miller showed just incredible “want to” rushing past three guys (yes THREE guys) to get in on the action.

Tim Crowder also got into the act by hustling to bring Rodgers down after he had scrambled out of the pocket. Even though Jimmy Wilkerson didn’t get on the board yesterday for a sack, he also made some really nice moves and brought a lot of pressure.

We got our first win of the season, the defensive line led the way, and much of what I said in my scouting report came to fruition. I couldn’t possibly have any complaints right?


There has yet to be a perfect game played and until that day I will still look for where we can improve.

In short order, we didn’t run enough pass rush games particularly on our left side, which could have led to an even bigger sack day. I also think we went to a three-man rush a little too much yesterday, as well.I was happy, however, to see Wilkerson FINALLY get a chance to stay in the game in that situation.

And finally I still have a problem with us never putting our weak tackle over the center. The touchdown run yesterday by Ryan Grant looked eerily similar to the touchdown run earlier in the year by Brian Westbrook and the Eagles. It’s just too easy to block when you never have someone keeping the center off your middle linebacker.

Having said that, hell, a win is a win and our defensive line stood up yesterday.

Go out and enjoy it, fellas. You have definitely earned it!

23 Responses to “Bull Rush: Collective Performance Wins Up Front”

  1. Larry Says:

    I was looking out for Kyle Moore and didn’t see him. He did play, right? If he did, how did he do?

  2. sgw94 Says:

    @Larry He played some at end and inside on passing downs. Didn’t really do anything to speak of but he didn’t look bad either. Tried a spin move from the defensive tackle spot on a passing down but it didn’t work.

  3. tj Says:

    steve any chance you could start working for the bucs?

  4. Ackall Says:

    It’s great they play well. But these guys don’t hold a candle to the good D-lines in the league and Booger, Sapp, White, Rice, Culpepper, Marcus Jones and the boys back in the day. …We’re so far gone from there with this bunch. We need a beast who commands a double team, then we can start ballin

  5. sgw94 Says:

    @tj I would love to help out some time but considering the fact that I give criticism, although in my opinion fair, I doubt if my phone will be ringing any time soon. lol

  6. Dave Says:

    Nice to get the insight from you Mr. White. I just hope they realize they need to keep getting better and quicker because Rodgers holds the ball more than anyone in football.

    They did seem to adjust to the cutbacks in running game as well. I hope they see that and watch ALOT of film on the dolphins, because this game is all about stopping the run.

  7. Cheeka Says:

    Found you off Pewter Report. Strange, captivating site you have here. I see why its loved and hated but I’ll be back 😉 …Enjoyed catching up on the Bull Rush columns. You nailed it in that scouting report, Mr. white. …As an amateur, I’m wondering if they played the pass so well because they were so crappy on the run. Guessing it doesn’t work that way, But maybe?

  8. CharlieB Says:


    While I agree that the pass rush was largely successful in the second half, we still allowed 170 yards rushing on 23 carries (5.3ypc). I’d say that’s far from dominant. Especially with Miami coming to town next week, our run defense still looks hapless. Short of returning to a one gap system, which will never happen under Bates, how do we rectify the running problem?

  9. Jeff Says:

    Weak tackle over center – will the Dolphins exploit that?

  10. Joe Says:


    Thanks for dropping in and by all means tell your Bucs friends.

    Hey, Joe knows he’s not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s fine.

  11. sgw94 Says:


    I will have a fuller assessment of the game later in the week on my blog but all I can tell you for now is that while we weren’t good as a defense against the run, the defensive line held up their end of the deal on most of those plays. I do agree that run defense is still a problem for us and will be a major issue if it doesn’t get fixed before the Miami game this week. I am just saying in this particular game that the D Line won their matchups against the run for the most part.

  12. sgw94 Says:


    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. As for the run defense vs pass defense, nah they weren’t related. We have some pass rush ability from our front that we just haven’t been able to show as much until now because we usually are playing from behind so teams don’t have to throw and the scheme at first put our tackles in a tough position to rush. If we can play more close games or with a lead I think you will see that same level of pass rush or even better.


    Yeah the Dolphins run the ball so much that its a given that they will try to exploit it.

    To give some perspective I would ask anybody that is wondering why it matters about having someone lined up on the center to have a friend of theirs stand right in front of them facing them. Tell them to step to your right (their left) and you step to your left. This is what happens when our weak tackle takes a step with his outside foot and the other team runs strong side. The weak tackle has to play the gap inside where your friend will be even though they have now stepped in the opposite direction for all intents and purposes.

    So now you have the strong tackle in the B gap outside of the guard to his side. The A gap strong is open. Then you have the center. Then the weak A gap is open too because the weak tackle (you) are no longer in it and hence you have a cut back lane right up the middle with our MLB Ruud trying to play both A gaps while getting off the center’s block.

    Not the easiest thing to do in the world, thats for sure.

  13. Tristan Says:

    School is in session… 🙂

  14. BigMacAttack Says:

    The Pack did gain some yards on the ground, and we had some missed tackles but…I saw numerous big play saving tackles. They got 6 or 8 yds but tackles were made in the second level to save big gainers. The safety or LB that was the last line of defense made the plays and that was nice to see for a change.

    Steve, can you breakdown Miami’s D-line and what our O-line needs to do to beat them. They owned the Saints early but appeared to get tired later in the game and the Saints came back. It sure was nice to this week to have loud fans around us, and not being the only ones yelling at the top of our lungs. Go Bucs!!!

  15. sgw94 Says:


    I can’t give a real scouting report for the Dolphins D Line because I haven’t recorded any of their games. What I can tell you is that they are going to blitz us. If their starting nosetackle Jason Ferguson plays we will have a hard time running up the middle. Both rush LBs are immensely talented with Joey Porter and Jason Taylor. The weakness of that defense by far is their secondary. If we can give Freeman time he should be able to push the ball down field. But we are going to have to stand up and block some people. And when I say that I don’t just mean regular four man rushes, I mean we are going to have to find a way to block up their blitzes and even get some chip blocks on Porter and Taylor. Otherwise its gonna be a long day for the offense.

  16. BigMacAttack Says:

    Keeping 2 backs in the backfield with Freeman instead of 1 could give the extra man needed, or even pulling a tightend back.

    Hey Joe, I have an idea. Call Mark Dominick and ask him to send some Dolphin Tape over to Steve White to evaluate for our Class. Wait, better yet,, ask for Steve’s personal use of the film room at 1 Buc Place. Who knows, within a couple weeks we could have a new D-line Coach.

    Thanks to both of you.
    Go Bucs!!!

  17. Ron Nado Says:

    Great article Steve. I think the D line looked alot better this game myself. I think alot of problem on Defense is the linebackers not hitting the gaps. I’m seeing alot of times the backers can make a play sometimes 5 yards in if they would hit the gaps, instead they are pursuing side to side? Looks like they are being cautious and scared of over pursuing. Am I wrong?

  18. sgw94 Says:


    Keeping two backs in could (emphasis on could) solve the problem of protecting Freeman but then you have the problem of only having 3 people out on a route. I think we are definitely going to have to mix it up and at times keeping more people in is going to be the way to go, but really the best way to attack Miami is to run the ball right at them and then hit them with play action pass when their safeties start getting nosey. We HAVE to pound the ball this week to have success.

    @Ron Nado

    Thanks! I don’t think the LBs are purposely going laterally as opposed to downhill, I think sometimes we may not be gap sound up front which makes them hesitate about where they fit. But also don’t forget that Green Bay is a big time passing team with that West Coast offense so some of it I am sure is also a matter of them trying to not get caught up in play action pass and end up dropping coverage. I don’t think at all its about being scared of over pursing though our being cautions per se. Its more a matter of them trying to be where they are supposed to be which is what you want usually in your LBs in a 4-3 defense.

  19. FlBoy84 Says:

    Great insight Steve. I’ll be a bit more convinced of the ability of the DL when we can put that kind of game together against a line that doesn’t lead the league in giving up sacks by a WIDE margin, but I was happy they did so well last week.

    A bit off the subject, but did you have a chance to watch/record the Nebraska/OK game? I did, as it was a great chance to compare Suh & McCoy throughout the game. I think DT is one of the major needs we need to address in this draft, was curious what your thoughts were on these 2 guys.

  20. FlBoy84 Says:

    Thanks for the response Steve. Was just curious of your thoughts on the two. We can leave the prognosticating to Kiper & the guys. I agree with you on Berry, he and TJ would be a phenomenal safety combo for years to come. I read somewhere that Berry was Monte’s recommendation for the Bucs in the first round (how surprising) as well. Have to say I wouldn’t be disappointed if that was the case either. I haven’t followed McClain much but have read some great things about him as well.

    Kinda sad to already be looking at the draft next year, but I think we’re only a few key pieces away from being a fairly solid team, regardless of our record this year. Looking forward to seeing how the young guys on the DL (Moore, Crowder, Bennett, & Miller) progress as the year goes on. Also hope to see Mickens activated at some point as well, as long as he’s healthy. He was fairly highly rated coming out, Bucs may have a gem.

    Thanks again

  21. BigMacAttack Says:

    I saw the OU v Nebraska game and Nebraska’s whole D line is stout, not just Suh. Their DE, Pierre is right there with Suh and played a good game. I know OU was without their QB, but still they were held to only 3 points. Berry at Tenn is a great player, but do you spend a top 3 pick in the first round on a Safety? they say this class is deep at safety. I also like Brandon Spikes at LB. The Gators were not the same without him last week. Carlos Dunlap, DE is my other Gator favorite.

  22. BigMacAttack Says:

    Oh ya, let’s not forget the Bad Boys on the D line at USF.

  23. FlBoy84 Says:

    Crick from Nebraska did a nice job as well. He and Suh work really well together. Interested to see how he does next year.