Bull Rush: Five Adjustments For The Stretch Run

November 23rd, 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.

This is going to be a post about perception versus reality.

Let’s start off with the perception that our defensive line was “tossed around like rag dolls” yesterday because the Saints had success running the ball. Well, the reality is that’s a crock of crap.

You want to know who was to blame for the Saints running the ball down our throats in the second half yesterday? Then go check out my other post where I name names on each and every big run.

Next up is the perception that we regressed up front yesterday. Once again that was a crock.

Now I am sure many Bucs fans who have been hearing BS analysis of our defense all year will just assume this to be the case when our defense doesn’t perform well. But the reality is that Jimmy Wilkerson had a good day yesterday, Roy Miller improved yesterday (especially on his pass rush), Greg (Stylez) White was pass rushing his ass off in limited reps and hit Brees several times, Hovan played at least as well as he has played all year, and even Ryan Sims had a couple of good pass rushes.

Uhmmm, NewsFlash folks, this WAS the Saints and Drew Brees we were playing yesterday, not a bunch of slappys.

I think a lot of people started buying into a narrative not grounded in reality. That our team was all of a sudden resurgent with Josh Freeman at quarterback.

The truth is we beat the Packers and were close to beating the Dolphins largely because our special teams had several big plays in both of those games. Without those big plays in the kicking game, what you saw yesterday is pretty much who we are as a team when we play somebody like the Saints. Love it or hate it, doesn’t change that fact.

Were there things we could have done better? Of course. That’s true after every game. But our guys weren’t quote unquote “bitch slapped” upfront by any means. We just had guys in the wrong gaps and, as usual, some missed tackles.

Another perception is that we need to start playing our young players to give us a spark or to see what they have.

The reality is that our young players have already been playing a lot most of the season. Tim Crowder, Michael Bennett and Roy Miller have all logged plenty of playing time and Kyle Moore, now that he is healthy ,is getting his fair share, too. And let me tell you something folks, I don’t see any of those guys as a major upgrade to the people they are behind.

But now comes a time in this season where the question is,’Where do we want to go from here?’ Does the coaching staff want to do their best to win the final games? Or are they going to focus on just giving the young guys work.

Hell, how about doing both?

Here are the things we need to do up front going forward to improve as a defense and also to get a look at our young guys:

1. Put our weak tackle over the center at least some of the time during the game. I have called for this repeatedly and it makes no sense not to at least do it on some of our snaps to see if it works. For the record, I KNOW it works.

2. Leave Jimmy Wilkerson at left end on 3rd-and-long situations. And Let Roy Miller and Kyle Moore alternate inside as pass rushers on third down. Look, our starting defensive ends have the majority of our sacks this year. It makes no sense to waste Wilkerson rushing inside on every third down when Bennett and Crowder are not as good as rushing the right tackle as he is. On the other hand, it’s obvious that both Miller and Moore are part of the Bucs long term plans. So stick those guys in there and see what they can give you as pass rushers.

3. Throw the defensive alignment with three D-linemen on one side of the center in pass rushing situations out of the playbook. It doesn’t work. And even the pass rush games we try to run off that look take too damn long to come home.

4. Call more pass rush games on 3rd-and-medium. That way you not only give our guys more game time experience running these games, which should help them get better at setting them up, but it also helps to guard against a team trying to run a draw.

5. Blitz on first down. We have guys that can rush the passer. And I realize that everybody thinks that the Packers game was a fluke, but once again that is perception vs. reality. If we can get teams in 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations, then it will play to the strengths of our defensive line. It’s a lot harder to get to the quarterback on 3rd-and-4 than it is when it’s 3rd-and-12, that much is for sure.

Now the rest of our schedule features only one team that has a winning record, that being the Saints (Part 2). To me that means most of those games are legitimate opportunities for a win.

The question in my mind will be whether our coaching staff makes adjustments and goes for the wins, or just throws in the towel in an effort to keep the heat off themselves and point the fingers at the players. I am certainly hoping for the former.

23 Responses to “Bull Rush: Five Adjustments For The Stretch Run”

  1. Buccin Cane Says:

    Steve with these jackasses they are liable to start a whole new crew in every game we have left to “quote unquote” evaluate da talent of our d line. Question why is Stylez G not a full time starter vs. splittin reps wit Crowder. to me Styles has more fire and potential than anyone else we have right now. Most of the heat i see on opposing qb’s he’s somewhere in da picture. THANKS for your input from a players point of view. If everyone not on da bucs coaching can see the issues why cant they.
    Love ur Column Go BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. dean Says:

    why isnt this guy the bucs D.line coach or D.C.?????

  3. RastaMon Says:

    SW you are a breath of fresh air…

  4. CharlieB Says:


    I read your explanation of the big plays on your blog and I can agree with your assessments. But when the Saints O-Line routinely pushed our guys 2-3 yards off the line of scrimmage, it puts us at a disadvantage whether we make a tackle or not. When we consider them getting 3 – 4 yards a stop, that’s not saying much for our run defense.

  5. JK Says:

    Steve, I’m sorry but your head line is laughable if I wasn’t a Bucs fan. STRETCH RUN!YOUR TALKIN ABOUT STRETCH RUN! Stretch run for what? Vacation? We have got a head coach that challenged a downed punt that if he won would have amounted to 2 yards. TWO YARDS!!! Then he challenges a pass that hit the ground. PLEASE!!! Give me a break. This is a case of the inmates running the asylum!!!

  6. Mr. Lucky Says:

    Steve – while I am always impressed with your posts I gotta disagree with you on this one.

    Firstly – I wasn’t upset that the Bucs didn’t blitz much against Brees – he & Payton Manning are just too good to blitz against.

    Jimmy Wilkerson & Greg White did put some pressure on Brees – especially in the first half.

    The problem, as I saw it, was by the 3rd quarter the defense simply “gave up”. The Saints offensive line was pushing our guys 2-3 yards off the line of scrimmage each and every play. It wasn’t like that in the first half.

  7. sgw94 Says:

    Thanks guys for the various compliments. Here are my responses in order


    On Greg (Stylez) White I really don’t know why he didn’t start this game. He missed the Miami game with a shoulder injury but several times yesterday he made some pretty good hits on the ball carrier which to me at least had the appearance that he is healthy again. Maybe it was disciplinary or maybe it was precautionary but one thing is for sure, we play a lot better when he is in the game.


    Our defensive line held up in the second half almost identical to the way they held up in the first half. What a lot of people don’t understand is that 90% of defensive tackles are gonna get pushed 2 or 3 yards off the ball in a double team. It is what it is. The difference is that in the 2nd half guys weren’t in their gaps and guys missed tackles. Period.


    I didn’t pick the title per se and I feel your pain. However I think its important that we finish this season up strong headed into next year if not for anything else but confidence. At the end of the day no matter how much I may criticize the players or coaches I want the team to do well.


    I never said I was upset that we didn’t blitz Brees. In fact if Greg (Stylez) White had played more I feel confident that we could have had consistent pressure on him just with our front 4 through out the game. But going forward with 2 games against Atlanta, another game against the Panthers and NO again in NO we need to mix it up on first down to give our defense a chance for some 2nd and longs and 3rd and longs.

    As for your comment on the defensive line, again I can only argue with the facts. The fact is nobody gave up. The fact is the guys weren’t pushed of the ball any more in the second half than they were the first. The fact is guys were out of their gaps and missed tackles which amounted to over 100 yards and a TD on 6 plays in the 2nd half. The fact is even until the last play on defense guys were fighting their asses off. If we have somebody in the C gap on 3 of those runs then you can knock about 50 yards off their total. If Geno Hayes gets over the top on 2 of the other plays you can knock off another 30 or so. That doesn’t have anything to do with guys getting knocked off the ball. It has everything to do with them not being where they are supposed to be.

  8. Trox Says:


    Do you really believe Bates survives after this year? None of our front seven is a fit for this system. What is even more baffling is Miller and Moore we drafted this year are a better fit for Monte’s defense.

    Basically, we have square pegs trying to fit into round holes with Bates. There is no way our front seven could be completely overhauled in one offseason. I would hope the next DC would believe in the basic principles of his own system, but be flexible enough to adjust to his personnel

  9. FlBoy84 Says:

    Couple things Steve.

    While I agree that “Stylez” White has been getting consistent pressure on the QB lately, it seemed like he got a bit complacent/comfortable once he signed his contract at the end of ’08. Glad to see he’s back to playing like he did trying to earn it.

    Having read most of your posts lately, what do you think the primary reason is behind these guys being so often out of position? I’ve read many player quotes saying the same thing “we’ve just got to cover our gaps”, but at want point does someone get called out (other than your blog…LOL)/lose their starting spot.

  10. FlBoy84 Says:

    Totally agree Trox. What I find even more baffling is that after the Bucs hired Bates in Jan., other than trying to get Haynesworth/Vilma, no effort was made to bring in larger personnel that are supposedly REQUIRED to run Bates’ scheme. Now, after 10 months, Rah & Bates are just realizing we don’t have the guys to be successful? How about actually doing some RESEARCH into a coordinator’s (both OC & DC) background, scheme and the type of players required to make it work BEFORE you hire them. In Dominik’s defense, there were some articles that came out (Pewter Report, etc.) that outlined how understaffed/disorganized the FO was after the change in leadership. Maybe this had something to do with him missing so badly on his choices for OC & DC.

  11. sgw94 Says:


    One thing I have never done and probably never will do is call for a coach to be fired. I just know that these are real people with families who will be affected if they lose their job. I don’t expect everyone or even most people to look at it from that perspective but thats just how I try to carry it. Obviously I don’t agree with some of the things he has done this year but whether he stays or goes isn’t up to me.

    Having said that if Bates stays what I hope is that he does get that flexibility even if its just for the end of this year. As I noted before I just can’t understand how you draft Roy Miller and Kyle Moore if Bates is honest about what he needs to fit his defense. You hit the nail on the head when you said both guys are perfect for Monte’s system or hell just about any other team’s 4-3 system. But if he is saying he wants big guys that are hard to move at tackle well Miller ain’t that. And Kyle Moore is at best a tweeter but not the slim fast outside rusher that supposedly we need on his defense. We have more talent than this team has shown on defense even in that Green Bay game. Its just a matter of playing to everyone’s strength. Hell I would LOVE to see what Miller or Hovan or even Sims could do if they had a chance to line up over a center all game.

    I can tell you this much, aside from the defensive line the guy we are wasting the most is Quincy Black. He is the most physical linebacker we have and he hardly plays and we hardly blitz him.


    I can’t really say why they are out of position. The truth is Hayes has been out of position quite a bit all year. But for one most announcers don’t know enough football to call that out. And for two he is so athletic that you end up focusing more on the good plays he makes than the plays that he doesn’t because he isn’t where he is supposed to be. I don’t doubt that part of it has to do with being in a new scheme but I mean damn it IS like week 11 now. Pretty much time to dispense with that excuse unless the scheme is changinig every week.

  12. Trox Says:


    I would believe Bates has probably well over 20 yrs experience in professional coaching. It is baffling to me how a coach can show such little flexibility even with the worst rush defense in the league.

    Looking back at both coordinator hires (Jagodzinski and Bates), it would seem the Bucs put an emphasis on head coaching experience as opposed to scheme fitting current personnel on the roster. I believe John Lynch said it best on the Miami broadcast, “They are trying to change the culture of how the Bucs play defense”. This to me is astonishing considering the decade of success this defense had which of course you were very much a presence.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it or why reinvent the wheel would seem to be applicable.

  13. sgw94 Says:


    What really kills me is that there are some really little changes that could make a huge difference in my opinion. Now I will say this, the Bucs started the season with both the strong tackle and the weak tackle having their outside hand down on the ground. That absolutely drove me nuts and was killing us in the run game. Finally for whatever reason they allowed the strong tackle to put their inside hand down. And since that time our tackles and in particular Chris Hovan have played a LOT better. Just something that seemingly small helped us get better on defense. Now just getting the weak tackle on the center would have a similar effect. It would change how teams would have to block us. It would at the least give them a different look. It would give Ruud a clearer look at the A gap he is usually supposed to be in. And it would enable us to have the weak tackle cross the center’s face on occasion and totally screw up the offensive line calls.

    And yet we are about to be in week 12 and the only time we have put the weak tackle over the center was in the Miami game and only against Wildcat. It just defies all logic to me. Its not like reinventing the wheel either.

  14. Trox Says:

    “It just defies all logic to me”. That quote pretty much sums up how the front seven has been schemed all year to me. Obviously, these coaches are very intelligent to get to where they are in their profession, but this defense is going down as one of the most inept in team history. Scheme inflexibilty with ineptness will always equal poor results.

    Steve as always your insight has been very helpful. Look forward to reading more of your insights in the near future.

  15. FlBoy84 Says:

    Unlike most, I personally don’t care what type of defense we run, (4-3, Tampa-2, 3-4, etc.) as long as it fits the personnel we have on the team. As I said earlier, I’m just flabbergasted that we haven’t made ANY adjustments to stop the opposing run game. You have to think other OC’s are foaming at the mouth when they’re looking at our tape setting up the game plan against us.

    Hard to believe that losing Carter, Brooks, June, & Phillips from last year could cause the run defense to fail so dramatically. While I think we would be a bit better (even just from the effect of having more leadership in the defensive huddle), I still think we’d struggle mightily with those guys as well. When you’re a DC with 20 yrs. experience and you’re running formations that clearly leave a gap unmanned from the start, something is seriously wrong.

    As the great Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

  16. FlBoy84 Says:

    Wonder if Al was a Bucs fan? 😉

  17. sgw94 Says:

    Rick Stroud just announced via twitter that Bates was relieved of play calling duties. Raheem will take over and Bates will consult from the booth.


  18. Joe Says:

    LOL and Joe was about to create a post for tomorrow morning about the rooten rush defense. Good timing!

    Thanks Steve.

  19. Greg Says:

    Aaaah, the first step towards a new DC!

  20. BigMacAttack Says:

    Yea I just read Bates was demoted to water boy assistant. Well Steve, hopefully Dominick will be calling you in the Morning. LOL

    I hope Raheem can do a better job. We’ll finally get to see how Rah would have done as a DC, a logical step before jumping to HC. I still think they should stack the line like Phili to disguise what they are doing. QB has plenty of speed and I like your call on getting him to rush more. How bout the big man Dotson stepping in at Right Tackle. I like that guy and basketball players are usually pretty good on their feet. You often hear them talk about 7 in the box or 8 in the box, but sometimes I think they need to look at the SIZE of that box, because too often it seems the LB’s are too far back to make a play, especially on short down situations. I think that is a coaching issue. If the guys are fast, bring one or two up a little to make the tackle at the line instead of 4 yards up field.
    JBF.C = #1 Buc Site. Get some sleep Joe. At least I’m not the only insomniac around. Cudos to Raheem & mark for making a tough call tonight with Bates.

  21. Joe Says:


    Joe was literally writing a post for tomorrow morning about how horrible the Bucs rush defense is when Joe learned Bates had been “relieved.”

    Thanks for the compliments man. Much appreciated. Joe has to get up in about five hours so maybe he should go to bed?

    Joe barely stayed awake watching the end of a good Monday Night Football game because he was so exhausted. After learning Bates is “relieved,” Joe’s adrenaline is flowing.

  22. Jackson Says:

    If I didn’t know any better I’d think the D-line was the strength of this team after reading these colums. The D-line is as bad as it looks. This is called SPIN. I don’t believe ANY of our starters would be starting for another team. Although stats don’t tell the whole story, the give you some perspective, and the perspective is, our D-line is PATHETIC!

  23. BigMacAttack Says:

    Hey Action Jackson, we just love our team. We may not always like them, as my granny said, but we still love em.