Bull Rush: Ryan Sims Packs Exceptional Potential

February 10th, 2010
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 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 defense. It’s simply a can’t-miss read for the hardcore Bucs fan.
With the 2009 season over, White is profiling every Bucs defensive lineman and breaking down his strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they may fit in in next season.

Today he looks at Ryan Sims.


Just like all the other defensive tackles, it’s hard to judge Ryan Sims off of his play in Jim Bates’ system, as he is not really a two gap kind of guy. For that reason, I am going to focus solely on his play after Coach Morris took over the defense.

Sims has really nice get off for a guy his size. He also is very strong gets good separation from blockers. He plays with emotion, which is something I like to see and he really hustles to the ball no matter where it goes. He plays with good pad level most of the time and you could see him knocking guards back into the backfield when he played the 3 technique.


Sims has a problem with double teams. At times he allows them to get too much push on him, and at other times he is unable to make the play after one guy releases off the double team. That enables running backs to essentially run through his gap and you can’t have that in a one gap defense. He also tends to get stuck on blocks, especially on passing plays. You can see him time after time get good push on a bull rush then instead of ripping off or using another escape technique, he just starts standing there looking for the quarterback or trying to knock the pass down. On the same note, he really doesn’t have a range of pass rush moves and instead relies much to heavily on power rushes.

The Future

This is probably going to sound weird to a lot of people, but I personally think Ryan Sims has the largest amount of untapped potential of all of our veteran guys on the defensive line. What I mean is this, the guy has a lot of tools to be successful. He is big enough to take up space, he obviously is strong enough to get good push, he has the right kind of edge to him and the guy is tough. I think we would do well to give him a shot as the starting nose tackle. There are a few simple fixes to Sims game that I think could raise his level of play to new heights.

First of all, he needs to work on playing double team blocks. The key is to know where to fight pressure while keeping your pad level low. When one of the blockers comes off the double he has to know that he has to expand in the direction that guy came from because it’s a given that the running back will be looking for that hole. If nothing else he has to at least make the back cut and try to find somewhere else to run. At best he rips off the single blocker and makes the play at or around the line of scrimmage.

The second thing he needs to work on is escaping off blocks. Specifically, he needs to work on ripping off his bull rush once the guard sits down on it after he gets push. If Sims ever gets to the point where he concentrates on beating the block rather on worrying about where the quarterback is, he is going to give people fits.

I understand the mindset though. When you are pass rushing you worry that if you go inside you will lose contain or if you go outside the quarterback will just step up. But the point for an inside guy is that no matter where they go, if they can get the quarterback to move at all then it helps the other guys on the defensive line and every so often it allows you to get the sack, too. Instead of playing so cautious he needs to learn to play with some reckless abandon and just let the chips fall where they may.

The last recommendation is that he works on adding to his pass rushing tool kit. He has to start working on rushing on an edge with a rip move and finding some kind of counter move where he comes inside. You can’t bull rush somebody 30 times a game and expect to be successful. Besides, once he pushes a guy around a few times they will start sitting down expecting the bull rush which is the perfect time to go to a finesse move and run around them.

With a good offseason working on his weaknesses, I personally feel like Sims could be a very productive player for us next year, especially now that we know we will be running a one-gap defense for the entire season this time. It’s going to be up to him to get it done though, and show the coaches he is ready to be a playmaker.

25 Responses to “Bull Rush: Ryan Sims Packs Exceptional Potential”

  1. FlBoy84 Says:

    Great insight Steve. I like Sims as well, and have been baffled by writers saying the team is more likely to keep Hovan and let Sims go. They basically had identical stats, and Sims is 2 yrs younger and still has room to improve. Interested to see which way the team goes.

  2. Jonny Says:

    Surprising Steve, I have always thought of Sims to be the weakest link on D-line. I always saw him getting easily pushed back against the Panthers especially and giving RBs holes to run. However I believe your insight, but would like to know what goes wrong against the Panthers. I would love to read an article about why and how Panthers O-line gets the best of Bucs D line, a breakdown of just the defense if you could in future Steve.

  3. sgw94 Says:

    @FlBoy84 I think memes develop on a player and nobody ever wants to speak differently on them. For the longest time Sims was just a “bust” and so nobody really ever talks about him much even if he plays well. Hovan on the other hand has been a good story since getting here and resurrecting his career so to speak. I like both guys but I think its clear that Hovan has already maximized his potential for the most part while Sims still has some things he can do to be better. And like you said, he’s younger too.

  4. sgw94 Says:


    I can tell you what goes wrong most of the times against the Panthers and it won’t take a whole article. First off the Panthers have always committed to their double teams inside. What I mean is they do not come off a double team to go block a LB or safety unless they already have really good push. And when they do come off they put pressure on the defensive tackles to have to make the play in their gap at that point. And that’s how they end up creating room to run up inside against us usually. What’s needed in that case is for the linebackers to shoot their gaps quicker and make the play at or behind the line of scrimmage before the guy can come off the double team and block them but it rarely happens that way. And its not just the Bucs, hell the Panthers push EVERYBODY around like that inside. In all actuality I wish our O Line committed more to that kind of blocking scheme because I would say we are just as talented as they are. But instead our guards or center are always trying to climb up to the second level and they end up leaving somebody hung out to dry trying to single block a defensive tackle who ends up disrupting the play.

  5. Mr. Lucky Says:


    With the changes that you discussed in this article are these changes that can be learned vs. natural abilities?

    Secondly I was reading something about the NFL thinking about getting rid of the 3-point stance in order to decrease concussions. What are your thoughts about that and how it would affect the D-Line.

  6. Rob Says:

    Ruud is the Problem with the inside run game. He is not physical at the point of attack and will not stick anyone in the hole. He goes for sissy ankle tackles. Get Ruud off this defense and add a draft pick like McClain and everyone looks better.

  7. Dave Says:

    OF COURSE he packs potential. everyone thought so a few years ago too. That is why he was a first round DT.

    Unfortunately it is a few years later and he is still labelled as a “potential” stud.

    He is simply a career backup, a nice player to have in the rotation, nothing more.

  8. OAR Says:

    Mr. White,
    Thank you for all your reads. Sorry that sounds like a line from “Reservior Dogs”, lol!
    Seriously though, I find them apprising and enlightening.

  9. sgw94 Says:


    The changes can be learned. Pretty easily in fact. The question is who will teach him and how bad will he want to learn.

    As for outlawing the 3 pt stance, it will never happen. I don’t know why Goodell even said it was underconsideration except maybe he wants to look proactive after the the NFL caught all kinds of negative attention the last few years over concussions. Simply put, football without 3pt stances is not football and could never be passed off as such. Period

  10. sgw94 Says:


    Its not true that Ruud isn’t physical. What is true is that most of the year he didn’t come down hill on running plays for whatever reason. But when you see him take on fullback iso blocks or when he makes one on one tackles he is physical make no mistake about it. Now you can make up a reason as to why we have had trouble up the middle but then you would have to answer why we had problems even back when Quarles was at MLB because it didn’t just all of a sudden happen this year. People have been talking about the middle of our D being soft almost for as long as we have been running the Tampa 2 here.

  11. sgw94 Says:


    I don’t think you saw the word “stud” anywhere in my post. I don’t believe Sims is a potential pro bowler or I would have said so. But he is a decent player who could still make a lot of gains in his game. Oh and by the way, he has been a starter for at least 4 of his 8 seasons in the NFL so calling him a career back up isn’t technically accurate.

  12. OAR Says:

    As well as your reply/comments to posts. Thanks again!

  13. DRB Says:


    You suggested Sims at nose tackle, are we back to running the old nose/under tackle?

    I thought we had a Left and Right D Tackle?

    Is there really a difference between the 2?

    Thanks again for another great article! I am looking forward to your breakdown of Roy Miller.

  14. Jonny Says:

    Thanks a lot for the info on Bucs vs Panthers Steve, you’re the man.

  15. Cody Says:

    I find it hard to beleive that after 8 years in the NFL nobody has pointed these holes in his game out to him. I think he has probably been told over and over again what his problems are he just can’t seem to apply them once the play begins. Maybe I’m wrong but wouldn’t a switch to NT force him to go up against double teams on a regular basis, which is the weakest part of his game by a mile?
    Personaly I see Sims as a two down player that can give out great effort for two or three plays and then he needs to take a few plays off, which isn’t a bad thing, it just means that we need to have a quality player for the other downs. He and Roy Miller may make for a nice rotation.

  16. jvato24 Says:

    Steve, Could you make a Big Board of our DL and list the best or most valuable players on our DL now ??

  17. FlBoy84 Says:

    “memes”? Actually had to look that one up Steve. Very erudite.

  18. shazz Says:

    Steve, could you come to my house and clean the washing machine and cut the lawn. You people are goofy.

    Nice breakdown. Sims is 30 years old and he has a long way to go, but low mileage on those knees. Reading this, there’s no reason to think the DL-line coach is working on this stuff. Didn’t we just dump one line coach?

  19. shazz Says:

    Steve, could you come to my house and clean the washing machine and cut the lawn. You people are goofy.

    Nice breakdown. Sims is 30 years old and he has a long way to go, but low mileage on those knees. Reading this, there’s no reason to think the DL-line coach is working on this stuff. Didn’t we just dump one line coach?

  20. sgw94 Says:


    I honestly don’t know if we will go back to an undertackle and nose or just have left and right but yeah I think it makes a big difference. The reason being is that in our style of defense you really want to be able to get a pass rush out of your undertackle on any given down. By the same token you want to have a guy who can really anchor in against the double teams at nose tackle. Now few teams have a guy that can do both let alone two. Its like asking somebody to be Pat Williams on one play and Warren Sapp the next. If it were me I would much rather have guys who specialized in what they did and were suited for either role.

  21. sgw94 Says:


    First you would be surprised about what a guy gets coached to do and what he doesn’t after they make it into the pros. Even some of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL don’t get deep into the weeds with guys about their technique but instead focus on drills and film work and a guy’s own interest in himproving himself to get guys better. I mean I think Rod Marinelli is THE best defensive line coach in the NFL and one of the tops of all times. But he never really coached me on the perfect way to do a rip move or how to set up my spin move. I learned by watching other guys and asking other guys who played the position and then I put that with the drill work we did every day to get better. And the truth is you don’t know what you don’t know so for me it actually is conceivable that nobody really has pointed this out to him in his 8 years in the league.

    As for him playing nosetackle and facing double teams, I wouldn’t necessarily say that was the worst part of his game though it is a weakness (playing cut blocks is probably the worst) but yeah its something he would need to work on. But for him he is plenty strong enough to do it and what it really comes down to is just technique work. I think if he really worked on hand placement, turning into the pressure and expanding in the direction of the guy who comes off, he would improve greatly in taking on those blocks. And the thing of it is, I saw him do really good things after they made the switch to a one gap defense and teams tried to single block him with a center. Of the other guys we have on the roster right now I think his combination of size, strength and experience gives him a leg up in who should get first dibs on that position.

    Again, just my opinion.

  22. sgw94 Says:

    @FlBoy84 LOL, thanks!

  23. Cody Says:

    Thanks Steve, good explanation. Hopefully he gets in the film room and really disects his plays when he got washed on double teams. I think if he’d focus more on getting his hands on his half a man and sink his hips and turn his shoulders when he feels that pressure from the 2nd blocker he’d be just fine. Instead his feet stop pumping as soon as he feels that pressure and he raises up.
    He’s def. not a full time 3-Tech so he really needs to work hard this offseason on holding his ground as a NT. I’m still crossing all of my fingers and toes that Gerald McCoy is sitting there at #3.

  24. BigMacAttack Says:

    Would it help him to lose some of his fat around the mid section? I mean the older you get, the harder it is to lug around non producing weight or flab. It just seems to me that many of our players could be put on a more regimented diet plan and spend more time stretching, working on cardio, and banging out sit ups. I understand the importance of mass when trying to keep from moving backward, but I don’t see the need when moving your own body forward???

  25. sgw94 Says:


    You have to remember that our D tackles were told to gain weight last offseason so they could be more prepared to do Bates’ ill fated two gapping scheme. Yeah he could afford to lose a few pounds but if he is at nose tackle he is going to need to be a little heavy to fight those double teams. I don’t care how great your technique is, if you’re light in the ass you are going to get creamed on doubles.