Bull Rush: Moore Stuffing Run; Miller Hitting Wall

December 29th, 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.

Before I get into this week’s post, I would like to take time to send healing vibes to starting defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson.

Not many people gave him the recognition he deserved for the kind of year he was having, especially considering the versatility he showed in rushing inside on most third downs. It always sucks to be injured but especially so when it is right at the end of the season. But I truly believe that he will be diligent in his rehab and we will see him back out on the field making contributions next year as a Buccaneer.

As for the Saints-game critique, all I can say is hot damn!

For all of the people who tried to explain away the win over the Seahawks last week, they are going to have a hard time downplaying this one.

The defensive line had a rough start to the game but finished up strong in the second half. In particular, our weak side defensive tackles had a hard time holding on to the A-gap much like they did against Seattle. I had a feeling that the Saints would see what the Seahawks were able to do and try to duplicate it against us. Thankfully, after those first few drives, our guys were able to anchor down and not get pushed out of their gap.

There was one particular play made by a defensive lineman in the second half that I want to recognize. It may well have been the play of the game. At the least, it’s the most underrated play of the game because you won’t hear a lot of people pointing it out.

In the third quarter with the score still 17-3, the Saints were facing a 3rd-and-inches play when their tailback Lionel Hamilton broke through the line and was streaking down the field, if not headed for a touchdown, at least getting them in field goal position. But Tim Crowder, in an amazing show of hustle, dove and tackled him from behind cutting off at least 10 yards to that play in my estimation. The defense ended up buckling down and forcing the Saints to punt.

Imagine for a moment that Hamilton had scored a touchdown or at least got the Saints close enough to kick a field goal. We would have been looking at a three-score deficit, and it’s highly likely that we wouldn’t have been able to stick to running the ball on offense which would have exposed our rookie quarterback.

That effort play by Crowder likely kept us in the fight and kept the fight in our guys, and I for one want to tip my hat to him.

This game we ran a lot of a 3-4 alignment on defense with one defensive end standing up as an outside linebacker with Quincy Black lining up on the opposite side and generally both guys rushing off the edge. I would say the results were mixed, but at least it gave the Saints another blocking scheme to have to worry about.

We didn’t really get a lot of pressure on Drew Brees from the defensive line, but I did see guys making good moves. Brees was just getting the ball out fast and on time instead of waiting for deeper routes to develop. I was somewhat disappointed that we didn’t run any pass rush games when we went to a four-man rush as far as I can tell.

The Saints had their backs chipping a lot and pass rush games would have helped our ends avoid that tremendously. Their offensive tackles were also kicking back hard practically begging for us to run TEX (tackle penetrate, defensive end loops inside to A gap) on them. If we had run a few of them then its likely that those tackles would have stopped kicking back so fast which would have aided the ends when they wanted to use one-on-one speed rush moves.

Out of our young guys this week, I was impressed with Kyle Moore.

Moore came in after the first play of the game for Wilkerson and ended up basically playing starters’ reps. He had some really good arm-over pass rush moves and he was stout against the run. If he could just be a little more sudden in getting off the ball and a little tighter with his hands that kid has a chance to be a really good player for us.

On the other hand, Roy Miller didn’t show much this week. He seemed perpetually late off the ball and his pass rush has really fallen off.

I know he has probably run full speed into the rookie wall by now but he just has to push through it. I expected to see him really taking off now that we are back in a one-gap scheme but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened for him so far.

It probably seems a little weird for me to have so many complaints after such a big win, but that’s just how it is sometimes on defense. We didn’t play badly on the defensive line yesterday. In fact, aside from those first couple of drives we played quite well. But there were plays we left out there on the field Sunday that guys would have been sick about had we lost.

When you want to be great you have to look at your play with a highly critical eye no matter whether you win or lose. And I for one want those guys to be great at least for these final games.

Having said that, winning two games in a row on the road, one of them against the best team in the NFC is special. Especially for a team that many outsiders would claim doesn’t have anything to play for.

No matter what statistics we put on the board Sunday one thing we showed across the board was heart. It was Crowder who made the play that I alluded to earlier but plenty of other guys up front showed that same level of effort all game.

And if you can get that effort then you will always have a chance to win. So congratulations guys, you have definitely earned some praise this week!

21 Responses to “Bull Rush: Moore Stuffing Run; Miller Hitting Wall”

  1. DeLandrias Says:

    Steve, very good article and very much on point. Your guys held the Saints down with great hustle. Enjoyed the read.

  2. aldo Says:

    excelent article!! thx steve for all that comments that you do, i wanna ask u something, did u see a real need to draft DT or DE for the bucs?? what prospects u think are the best for us??

  3. Mr. Lucky Says:

    Steve – Once again a through post with player insight info.

    You mentioned that the Bucs were playing some 3-4 against the Saints so I gotta ask this question.

    How difficult a transition would it be for the Bucs to go from their current 4-3 to a 3-4 defense next year. As a follow up what players, based on your observations this year, would be suitable for such a transition and what would the Bucs need (in terms of draft/FA) to make such a transition doable – i.e., Green Bay style?

  4. sgw94 Says:


    Thanks for the compliments!

  5. sgw94 Says:


    I think we do need to draft a defensive tackle and with the injury to Wilkerson probably a defensive end as well but not necessarily in the first round. I have said time and again that I think we should draft Eric Berry in the first round one way or another and then we can still pick up those other guys in the 2nd or 3rd especially since we have an extra 2nd rounder with the trade of Gaines Adams. Defensive backs are traditionally more ready to start right off the bat as rookies than are most defensive tackles or defensive ends. Look at the rookie for the Bills who is leading or was leading the league in interceptions.

  6. sgw94 Says:


    We could get away with playing some 3-4 right now as a change up, especially on passing downs. But I don’t think its something that most of our personnel would fit up well with. Traditionally you want bigger, more physical inside linebackers than we have right now. You would have to ask where and how one of our best young players Geno Hayes would fit into that scheme. Quincy Black would be ok but I am not sure Greg (Stylez) White would be better as a rush linebacker than he is as a down defensive end. I think you might have the same problem with him that the Packers had with Aaron Kampman where he could do it but he would be somewhat like a fish out of water. We would need bigger interior linemen as well. In short it would take a major overhaul with a lot of free agents and draft picks in my opinion to switch to a 3-4 full time next year. But that is just my opinion.

  7. Bob S Says:

    Steve: Do you think Sabby has reached his level of competence? Also, any comments on Dre Moore’s performance or lack of it?

  8. sgw94 Says:

    @Bob S

    I don’t think Sabby has reached his full potential. I mean this was his second year in the league and his first year starting. That doesn’t mean I think he will be great at some point, it just means that I am sure that he has some room to get better. Whether he does or not is going to be up to him though.

    As for Dre Moore he hasn’t really gotten enough playing time for me to give a fair assessment of him. When he has been in he has done a decent job but he hasn’t stood out in any respects. I think he has a lot of upside because of his size and strength and he looks to be quick but I need to see more of him.

  9. chesen Says:

    This actually is Year 3 for Sabby, and he stinks. Sorry, it’s just not there upstairs.

  10. sgw94 Says:

    There is this guy named Brian Price who I like a lot and plays defensive tackle for UCLA. If we don’t get Suh he might be a viable alternative in the 2nd round so you guys might want to check him out in the bowl game today at 4:30

  11. sgw94 Says:

    There is this guy named Brian Price who I like a lot and plays defensive tackle for UCLA. If we don’t get Suh he might be a viable alternative in the 2nd round so you guys might want to check him out in the bowl game today at 4:30

  12. DRB Says:


    Do you know the max weight they had Roy Miller play at this year? I think it was 320 at one point. I think they should get him down to 305 or so to improve his quickness off the ball….. what do you think he should play at?

    I think the weight he gained to play the 2 gap system caused him to hit the rookie wall sooner.

    He has a great reputation as a hard worker- and I thought he played real well in college- what are your thought on Roy Miller overall?

  13. DRB Says:


    One more thing!……..

    Most people agree that the players are getting bigger, faster, stronger, ect every year right?

    Ok, if that is the case (and I believe that it is) shouldn’t we be able to play the single gap, get up field in a hurry defense that we have always played with bigger interior lineman?

    So, instead of the “prototypical” interior lineman@ 6′ to 6’2 and 290-300, couldn’t we play with guys up to 6’4″ and 315 or so and not give up to much quickness?

    Bigger interior lineman in our current system might be more stout against the run ( the so called weakness of the “tampa 2” )

    Do you agree?

  14. sgw94 Says:


    I liked what I saw of Miller earlier in the season. He has a good motor and he was actually getting some pressure on pass rush. But for whatever reason he seems to have worn down the past few games. I don’t know if its the added weight or not but I do know that he has to work on his get off regardless of how much he weighs

    As for the bigger/stronger argument I don’t necessarily agree with that. When you look at the best players at every position they are all about the same size as they have always been. There are some aberrations here and there, an offensive or defensive lineman who is just huge, but for the most part its almost uniform now in the league at most positions.

    As for how a bigger guy could help us against the run in Tampa 2, again I have to point out that in our so called Tampa 2 we aren’t usually actually running Tampa 2 on early downs. We are usually in some form of an 8 man front and so stopping the run doesn’t always fall on the defensive linemen. The truth is had we had a real thumper at safety this year who didn’t miss tackles and got guys on the ground, our numbers against the run would have been much better. And when you look at a guy like say Ryan Sims he isn’t exactly small. Now if we go back to a system with a declared nose tackle and a declared undertackle we might benefit some from having a bigger nose tackle as long as that guy can move, but its hard to find guys like that. And when we do play Tampa 2 the key is having a defensive line that gets so much pressure on the quarterback that they don’t have the time to wait for options to open up down field and instead have to throw the underneath routes. If we have a bunch of big lugs who are good against the run but can’t pass rush we will get killed in that scheme especially in a division that has both Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.

    When I say big however I mean weight wise. I don’t think its every going to work out having a really tall defensive tackle because low man wins especially on double teams and no matter how strong they are tall guys end up getting rooted up out of the hole more times than not.

  15. DRB Says:


    Thanks for the response.

    In your opinion, who is/ was a better left defensive tackle: Booger Mcfarland or Chris Hovan?

  16. sgw94 Says:


    We didn’t have left or right defensive tackles when Booger was playing. We had an undertackle and a nose tackle and thats how it was for most of the time that Hovan has been here. As for playing nose tackle I would say that when he was playing Booger was one of the best in the business but unfortunately he had some injury problems that held him back from really reaching his full potential. But I will say that he had a major impact on the Colts winning the Superbowl the year we traded him and that he probably should have played nose tackle rather than undertackle (which he was switched to after Sapp left) his whole career. Hovan has been good don’t get me wrong, but Booger played at a very high level when healthy

  17. BigMacAttack Says:

    I think part of Miller’s problem may be injury related. I believe it was an ankle he hurt a few games back and it doesn’t look like he is back to 100% with his legs. He was slow slow getting up on one play and I believe he may have a nagging ankle or foot injury. Best guess.

    I don’t want Bill Cowher as a HC. Raheem has really made some good adjustments and I think he has shown Olson the light too. Combine that with the way the defense is playing overall and we might have a Head Coach on our hands. I’ll say this about Rah, he’s as fired up as they come and there is no lack of passion in his heart. He wants to win and has a serious fire burning in his belly. You can see it now. It took about 13 weeks, but it has finally manifested itself. We need to give him another year, so I was wrong about him, but his coordinators didn’t do him any favors either.

  18. Trox Says:


    I was just wondering about your assessment of Quincy Black as a SAM linebacker. With Raheem taking over the defense, I believe Black has been much better against the run. I don’t think his pass coverage skills have been that bad. Just curious about your thoughts. Thanks!

  19. DRB Says:


    I’ve always known it as Nose/Under tackle but the Buc’s depth chart shows it as right and left. Thats why I referred to it that way.

    What is the difference between the two?

    Now that we are back to a 1 gap scheme, will they go back to Nose/Under tackle?

  20. Bob S Says:

    Steve: You suggested the Bucs try Demar Dotson as a blocking tight end on offense. They did for a limited number of plays. Were there enough for the tape to show any potential there?

  21. Bob S Says:

    Steve: You suggested the Bucs try Demar Dotson as a blocking tight end on offense. They did for a limited number of plays. Were there enough for the tape to show any potential there?