Bull Rush: Self-Scouting Key To Offseason Study

March 25th, 2010
Former Bucs DE Steve White

Former Bucs DE Steve White

JoeBucsFan.com analyst

Steve White spent every season of the Tony Dungy era (1996-2001) 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. Recently, White even contributed “Insider” NFL Draft content to ESPN.com.

Below is White’s weekly Bull Rush column that breaks down all things defense with a focus on the defensive line. It’s simply a can’t-miss read for the hardcore Bucs fan. 

With the 2009 season over, White has broken down every Bucs defensive lineman and is now sharing his views on offseason preparation.

Today he reveals his personal approach to offseason film study.

One of the things I liked to do in the offseason was watch film. But the term “watching film” means different things to different people, so I figured I would illustrate how I tended to watch film in the offseason and the thinking behind it.

The film I watched most in the offseason was film of me during the previous season. Call it self-scouting or whatever moniker you want to give it, I thought and still feel that you can learn more in the offseason by watching yourself than you can in watching film on your opponents for the upcoming season.

The key, of course, is to be your own worst critic and focus more on your bad plays than your good ones.

I always wanted to see how many plays I potentially left out on the field and what I could do to make sure that that didn’t happen again.

Look For Tipping Off Opponent

That approach allows you to work on your mindset in the offseason when you aren’t working on the physical aspects of the game. You never want to go through a season and make mistakes and never learn from them. The key to a long NFL career is not to be perfect, but instead to never make the same mistake twice.

It’s also a good idea to pay attention to whether, as a defensive lineman, you tip off your responsibilities and/or become predictable in your movements.

Does it appear that the offensive lineman knows where you are going before the snap? Was the guy set up for a counter move that you never made? Is there anything about your stance that changes from play to play enough for them to pick up on?

These are the questions you want to be asking yourself so that you maximize your potential to make plays.

I would only start watching my upcoming opponents AFTER taking a long hard look at myself. But obviously at a certain point it’s time to start looking forward.

While watching film in the offseason, obviously you know who your opponents will be for the upcoming season but you may not know the exact order of the games. And, of course, with personnel moves and injuries the guy who you are watching on film from the previous season may not be the guy who lines up across from you on gameday months later. So, in my opinion, you should only focus on your division opponents since you are going to have to face them twice regardless.

The rule of thumb with offseason scouting is to not get too caught up on the details when it comes to your opponent. You don’t want to start trying to figure out blocking schemes or the pattern of play calling. Instead, you want to focus on the guys who will potentially be blocking you and how they handled other defensive linemen the previous seasons. For me, I wanted to focus primarily on third-and-long plays for the purposes of watching their pass sets. Other folks may want to watch it all, however.

There are several different sets that offensive linemen can take, and with each different set you have to rush them differently. Some guys like to get you right on the line and they are called short-setters. They try to punch you right away to halt your momentum and throw you off rhythm. In that situation you will need to be quick with your hands to knock their’s down and quick enough to burn the edge and make them catch up to you.

Other offensive linemen may get depth but try to keep their shoulders parallel with the line of scrimmage as long as possible. The natural inclination is to try to bull rush this set, but that’s exactly what they want you to do, so instead you should either try to burn the corner with a wide rush or do the bull rush but quickly rip off inside before they sit down.

Then you have some that get depth AND turn their shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage or close to it. These are generally the worst offensive linemen but not always.

But with that set they are basically begging you to either run right up the middle of their numbers with a bull rush or to go upfield and then back up under with a spin move, or some other quick change of direction. If you find an offensive lineman with this set, then you kind of start to lick your chops and also focus on the fact that you have to maximize your production when you go against them because sacks and other stats are hard to come by.

Young O-Linemen Have Quirks

I would end up watching some straight game film also though but not much. Generally, what I liked to look for is any tells an offensive lineman might have.

One thing you find is that offensive lineman, especially the young ones, tend to have little quirks before the snap. Whether it’s a change in the width or depth of their stance from passing plays to running plays, or its a guy who twists his foot in the ground whenever there’s a running play called (yes that actually happened). If you look hard enough and long enough, you may just find the little tip off that helps you make a big play months later.

Well, that’s how I watched film in the offseason. Hopefully it was insightful if not entertaining.

I will say that the most important thing isn’t just watching film, it’s WHAT you’re watching and HOW you’re watching it.

37 Responses to “Bull Rush: Self-Scouting Key To Offseason Study”

  1. Tommy Boy Says:

    Steve, another great read. I just got out of school for the night but feel as if I just got taught a lesson that was not only informative but entertaining. I’d like for you to share some of the tip offs the current def ends on our team has. It’d be hard to see them during the game, especially if it’s blacked out, but it is something that I want to keep an eye out for. More football knowledge the better!

  2. RahDomDaBest Says:

    Yes, another excellent article Steve.

    I think you need your own website. Why don’t you get an all ex-NFL players website going? A guy at each level talking straight up football, stories, you know, inside the helmet stuff that the fans don’t get to see.

    It would be one of the best reads out there… No offense Joe!

    Joe, as a suggestion, why don’t you route the high traffic debates/discussions to a forum box out to the left or something… Maybe put limbs to the last 5 blogs with highest replies. Sometimes good discussions run off the page to quickly.

    And if Steve won’t get together a web forum of ex NFL players, why don’t you go recruit a few more… Maybe get Galloway, Brooks, Jamie Duncan… Anyone for that matter that has actually played the game. Give them there own section on JBF.

  3. Eric Says:


    Great idea about the former players.

    Better yet, go get Chucky to make some comments. Ill bet that would create some hits!

    “Jiminy Christmas do you idiots think I didn’t f’in realize there was a f’in NFL Draft”?

  4. Jamie Says:

    Great article, Steve. Like the bit about the linemens’ tells.

  5. Jonny Says:

    Another great one Steve. Your articles not only give information about our team, but also educate us readers about what else can be watched in football other than just the splash plays. Thanks to your last week’s article, when ever I see some football re-airs on NFL Network, I started looking for pass rush moves and the tendencies of pass rushers.

    BTW Steve, what do you honestly think of our LB corps. I read your take on Ruud and his struggles because of a bad D-line, how about the other two guys? Stuff like “sideline to sideline” pursuit and tackling. Why is everyone so quick to label Quincy Black as a failure and get his replacement? What has Geno done to deserve the superstar status among majority of us Bucs fans?

  6. BigMacAttack Says:

    Steve, how about putting together A Bucs’ Mock Draft / Steve White’s wish list using the top 6 or so Bucs picks, trades up and down, whatever. I know your busy, but with 11 picks, 20% of the new roster and they say this draft is very deep, they need starters…. and a punter. Tory Holt mocked the Rams taking McCoy 1, Lions -Suh 2, Bucs – Dan Williams 3.

    Bucs 3,35,42,67,101,153,172,210,217,232,253

    Should the Bucs draft an ILB to backup Ruud? say in the 4’th round? Is there value that deep?

    Do the top 5 picks all need to net starters? this season?

    Wilkerson is suppose to talk to the Rams tomorrow. This to me is a bad Buc move even with the knee. White should be better this year too, so do we really need a DE in the draft? Kyle Moore???

  7. BigMacAttack Says:

    Joe, when are the Lightning going to find some consistency? They looked good tonight , but it’s a little late for that. Stamkos is the real deal though.

  8. Clubber Says:

    I hate Steve White. I always feel ignorant after reading his stuff. 😉

  9. sgwhiteinfla Says:


    Id have to see the team copy of the games to be able to see what tip offs our guys have. The TV copy just isn’t precise enough

  10. sgwhiteinfla Says:


    Thanks for the idea but its not as easy to get those guys on board for something like that as you think. Besides writing is hard work man, definitely not the easiest thing Ive done.

  11. sgwhiteinfla Says:


    I think our LB core is full of potential in our starters. I like Ruud more than evidently some of our fans and more than a few sports pundits. Quincy Black has a ton of potential with his strength and speed its just a matter of putting him in better positions to make plays. People say stuff like he dissappeared at times but I think they don’t realize how many times he had to come off the field because we were in nickle or dime and when he was in we didn’t blitz him near as much as we should have. Geno Hayes could definitely be a pro bowler with his knack for big plays. His problem is that while he makes a lot of splash plays, he is inconsistent on the basic plays he should make. Once he starts trusting the defense and learning to play within the confines of it he could very well be a star. One major problem I think though is depth. I don’t trust anybody on the 2nd team but Adam Heyward

  12. sgwhiteinfla Says:


    I might do some thing mock draft wise but it won’t be near as comprehensive as Justin’s

    As for our needs I think we need a starting undertackle no matter if its a 1st or 2nd rounder. We need another right end so a pass rusher which will probably still be available in the 4th or 5th round. We need several wideouts so Id go with one in the 2nd and then 2 or more in the late rounds if not sooner. I also like a corner in the first 3 rounds and a safety of course. The corner I like that I think we will still be able to get in the 3rd round is Javier Arenas. he is small but physical, kind of a Antoine Wingfield type. And he has ball skills out of this world and he is a good return guy. He would take over Ronde’s role almost effortelessly.

  13. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    “And if Steve won’t get together a web forum of ex NFL players, why don’t you go recruit a few more… Maybe get Galloway, Brooks, Jamie Duncan… Anyone for that matter that has actually played the game. Give them there own section on JBF.”

    RahDomDaBest – Perhaps Joe should come to your place and clean your carpets, too? Of course, only after Joe re-designs the Web site for you. LOL

    Just enjoy what you’ve got in Jeff Carlson & Steve White, who’s is churning out some of the coolest stuff online for fans. It’s not that simple and, frankly, most players just aren’t capable. Joe’s always looking and has probably talked to about 8 ex-Bucs over the past year. …Joe can’t reveal right now, but you will get some special stuff this season from a current Buccaneer.

  14. BigMacAttack Says:

    Hey Joe, Steve needs a RAISE !!! LOL

    Hey Joe, do you do terrazzo too?

    All BS aside,
    Joe, Steve, Jeff, you guys have done a great job with the site, which the 2 Joes have to get the most credit for, because of following the “Hire a smarter man rule” and putting in the long hard hours. This to me is the premier Buc site now, by far. This has been a long hard offseason so far, but you guys are making it shorter and much less painful.

  15. Joe Says:


    Those are some very kind words so early on a Friday. Thank you very much.

    “We” try. This is fun and Joe has always believed — strongly — that one can be informed and entertained. Afterall, sports is supposed to be fun. Why be boring?

    Joe also tries to be fair; he’s a journalist remember. A regular poster (claims) he left for good yesterday because Joe is a hater. Last Joe checked, he has never called for Team Glazer to sell the team; never called for Mark Dominik to be fired; never called for Raheem the Dream to be fired. But Joe is a hater?

    In fact, Joe received an e-mail from someone very high up at One Buc Palace a couple of weeks ago thanking Joe for being fair. So if the Bucs don’t consider Joe a hater, not sure how some reader can claim Joe is a hater.

    Joe’s not going to release who this person is because Joe promised confidentiality. But if you think your voice as a Bucs fan is not heard/read, Joe can assure you it is. There are eyeballs at One Buc Palace that read Joe regularly.

  16. Jonny Says:

    Steve, thanks a lot for your comment and time man.

    Its very nice to see that we both have seen the same things and have the same opinion on Quincy Black and Geno Hayes.

    Most of us fans are looking splash plays to judge our LBs and its just silly. I’ve seen Black pass rush only twice (in the 3-4 look Rah gives) since Raheem took over the defense and I am sure I haven’t missed a play this season. Geno on the other hand a great explosiveness right after the snap (in 4-3 look) and gets to the QB fast, but those were the plays where it seemed like DTs created space for Geno to penetrate (pass rush moves in you language I believe). I am very happy with our LB corps, both Black and Hayes look like superstars in the making. Like you said we need some quality depth to have these guys work their butts to earn the starting job.

  17. RahDomDaBest Says:

    If being #1 in the league in missed tackles makes a LB a potential superstar then I say you guys evaluation process is seriously flawed. Geno is undersized and can’t tackle… He is not the next Derrick Brooks… DB was a tackling machine… DB has always played at a high level at every level. DB made open field tackles too. That to me is far greater of a trait of a great linebacker than blitzing and breaking up a play just because he is fast…

    If the LBs can’t tackle and if the Safeties can’t tackle then there are serious problems against real NFL teams.

    Geno Hayes proved he can’t tackle consistently thus far.

    You guys need to get off his nuts and start asking why he is missing so many tackles…. Same goes for TJax Sabby and even the coach Barber.

    Look, if everyon is going to use the excuse that 9-7 isn’t good enough, then you better start looking for top notch players at their positions.

  18. sgw94 Says:


    I hardly ever go off of off brand stats like that when it comes to the Bucs because I watch every game usually more than once. I won’t say that Geno didn’t miss tackles this year because he did but that wasn’t a major problem for him. What WAS a major problem for him was that he didn’t do the right run fits and he over ran the ball quite a bit. Some of that is a lack of preparation, some of it is just youth and inexperience. But when he plays within the scheme he is dynamic. His burst when going on a blitz is quite impressive. His pass coverage skills are above average and when he brings it he lights a fire to people’s asses. I have learned not to argue too much with people who don’t see the things I see though so I will just let his play do the talking in the upcoming years.

  19. RahDomDaBest Says:

    Understand… but he missed more tackles than any other OLB in the NFL. To me that is a huge flaw. He sure isn’t making “splash plays” stopping the run, and since the Bucs gave up a league high 500+ rush attempts against, to me, stopping the run is major.

    I recall listening to Brooks in his interviews and prss conferences… and all he preached was being consistent and being fundamentally sound in tackling.

    I am sayning that Geno Hayes isn’t fundamentally sound and consistent in tackling.

    Tjax isn’t either.

    And Sabby is worse.

    Those 3 yound guys will not be super stars. Those 3 guys will not make us better than 9-7 with their poor tackling.

    If they improve in the tackling department it should help Tampa also stop the run. And yes, the defensive line needs rebuilding too.

    But those 3 guys are not cutting it with the missed tackles…

    That’s like saying we said short stop makes great plays, but he leads the league in booted balls, in errors. That is bad. If you can’t make the routine plays, then there should be a reason for serious concern.

    Do you not agree that they need to tackle much better?

    From my forward looking perspective, I think being #1 in missed tackles is already a recipe for failure… no way will these guys be great…

    Geno Hayes will never be a star in the NFL.

  20. sgw94 Says:


    Again, I don’t trust those numbers but you are basing your argument entirely on that. The truth is that even if they were true the tradeoff is a guy who makes big plays and people notice big plays. He will make a pro bowl, barring injury at some point in his career. You can write it down take a picture I don’t give a …. Geno Hays is a superstar in the making as far as his abilities all he has to do is get the easy stuff down.

    But to a larger argument here is the difference between Sabby and the other guys people have pointed out supposedly also missed a bunch of tackles per that website. Sabby doesn’t make ANY big plays. No matter how many tackles he missed TJax got interceptionns and made it happen. No matter how many tackles Ronde missed he was all over the field on blitzes and passes defensed. Same is true for Geno and his tackles for loss, sacks and ints. If Sabby were making those kinds of plays then that would balance out some his missed tackles, but the fact that he isn’t makes him too much of a liability for our defense.

  21. Jonny Says:


    Geno is not fundamentally sound and that is why he was a late round draft pick despite having great tools for his position. But I think there is always room for improvement through experience, tell me one prospect guaranteed to be as good as DB in this draft. None. All the players get better with experience and so will Hayes and Black. You are being too unfair to judge a LB from 1 year of playing time, just like majority of us Bucs fans who labeled JF as a bust at QB.

    From the same site you have pointed out all the stats, look at the stats for our DTs. They are the worst in run stuffing. May be DTs have something to do with all this, I don’t know, just my 2 cents.

  22. RahDomDaBest Says:

    You don’t trust the numbers…. and it’s Sabby’s fault. Sabby is a terrible SS, but it’s not just his fault. Geno and TJax missed about as many tackles.

    So INTs and being “all over the place” will balance out 4.8 yds per carry given up by Tampa’s defense (last in NFL), 2531 yds given up (last), 158.2 rushing yds per game (last).

    Or is this the fault of Jim Bates?

    Even when Raheem said that Tampa needs to get violent and requested to install a run stopping defense without the personel. Jim Bates right?

    Sabby right?

    Not Raheem, not Geno, not TJax, not Barber… even though they were tops in missing tackles.

    You win.

  23. sgwhiteinfla Says:


    See this is why I don’t like engaging people who think they know more than me about football. You don’t. You never will. I understand that you might like Sabby but he sucks on a football field. SUCKS. He can’t cover and he can’t hit. WTF is he in the lineup for?! Because we didn’t have anybody else that’s why. Again point to a big play Sabby made all year. I can point to plenty that TJax, Ronde, and Geno made. But hey I know ignorance is bliss. It shows the weakness of your argument that when confronted with the truth you obfusicate by then talking about the overall state of our defense which nobody would say played well. And while you’re at it YES Jim Bates’ scheme did suck. SUCK. Do you think its a coincidence that he got fired from his last two gigs?? But you just keep on defending Sabby and trying to make him into somethiing he’s not even at the expense of trying to down play other guys. Ultimately the play on the field will settle the argument and I am more than willing ot allow that to be the final arbiter of this debate.

    The End.

  24. RahDomDaBest Says:

    Not once did i say I liked Sabby. Never did.

    You blamed Sabby. You blamed Jim Bates.

    But you can’t blame Raheem or Geno or TJax or Barber.

    THIS IS THE UNDERLYING ISSUE with is wrong with the state of the Buccaneers… and with Raheem Morris. He can’t blame his favorites, even though lead the league in missed tackles.

  25. sgwhiteinfla Says:


    You sound like an imbecile right now. Read my blog sometime then tell me if I ever blamed Coach Morris, Geno, TJax or Barber. What you hate is that I can blame them when they fuck up but ALSO praise them when they do well. That’s called analysis, not knee jerk sloganeering which evidently is what you are looking for. Next time you might want to check your facts before you make such an asinine statement.

  26. sgwhiteinfla Says:

    Here let me help you out. This is just one post out of many on my blog but just by itself it should be enough for you to apologize. That’s if you are man enough to admit you are wrong.


  27. Eric Says:

    Hey Steve. Quick off topic question.

    Was that Simeon Rice dude the same off camera, or was he turning it on when he was interviewed?

    Man, the stuff he said was just classic.

  28. sgwhiteinfla Says:


    He was the same all day every day. A lot of fun and a great personality. It kinda reminded me of the role in the movie “The Program” where the one guy loves to use big words all the time. But I don’t have a single thing bad to say about Sim

  29. sgwhiteinfla Says:

    Ok I waited over an hour for an aknowledgement from this cat that he was wrong but evidently none is forthcoming. That’s cool though, everybody on this thread can judge the truth for themselves. It is what it is.

  30. Radio Mushmouth Says:

    ” sgwhiteinfla Says:

    March 26th, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    See this is why I don’t like engaging people who think they know more than me about football. You don’t. You never will. I understand that you might like Sabby but he sucks on a football field. SUCKS.

    See. This is why I don’t like Steve . Anytime anyone disagrees with him he plays the ” I played and you didn’t so SHUT UP ” card.

    Well guess what Steve ?? A lot of people would say YOU sucked on the football field . According to NFL.com you had 37 tackles , 4 passes defensed. and 11.5 sacks in your entire career. So far Sabby has 108 tackles , 4 interceptions, 13 passes defensed , 1 forced fumble. This is in only 3 years. He’s on pace for a much better career at his position than you had at yours.

    WHo sucks on the football field again ??

  31. sgwhiteinfla Says:

    Now here comes the dumbass to stir the pot

    Again fucknuts how many games did you play in your career?

    Where have you been a coach?

    Who the fuck has even heard of you?

    Mushmouth I keep telling you that you can’t win with me because I’m not made like you. I played 7 years dog and I started in an NFC championship game. People can say I sucked all they want to but unless they got more years than me in the NFL I can also point and laugh at them. You can keep making an ass out of yourself if you like but its not helping your rep nor hurting mine. Can anybody even google your dumb ass?

    Now shoo fly.

  32. Radio Mushmouth Says:

    That’s the problem. I’m not comparing MYSELF to you Steve , I’m comparing Sabby to you. The guy you say flat out “SUCKS”

    So far he’s been a more productive player than you , and yet you are talking mad shit . Maybe you should give a 3rd year player a little more slack, and take a look in the mirror while you’re at it.

  33. sgwhiteinfla Says:

    Mushmouth you just don’t know enough about football to even try to come at me. The shit is actually pathetic if you must know. You look like a fanboy fluffing Sabby all the time, I mean I don’t think he swings that route anyway. Im sorry that I hurt your wittle feewings when I tell the truth about him but it is what it is.

    If you want somebody who will tell you what you want to hear there are plenty of people who will oblige you but Im not going to fuck up my credibiity just to try to get you to like me. I couldn’t care any less quite honestly so again, you can keep playing yourself or you can find someone else to try to play with.

    Your choice

  34. BigMacAttack Says:

    Sabby made a few good plays (ints) when Gruden was still here, but he missed a bunch too. He also has a serious problem tackling at the point of impact. Sabby looks like a very athletic guy, but IMO he is lacking instinct and his mental game is a problem. Last season Sabby totally fell off the charts and many of the Burns, Big Plays & TD’s by opponents were due to Sabby’s mistakes.

    I’m gonna have to agree with Shihan White on this issue, and you guys do sound like idiots.

    It’s really too bad this argument isn’t taking place in a bar. I’d love to see a more appropriate ending for it. I know where I’d be, LOL

  35. BigMacAttack Says:

    One more thing for Mushy. This is the Bull Rush column. This is Steve’s house and I believe he does it as a courtesy to all of us. When you visit someone’s house, show some respect.

  36. RahDomDaBest Says:

    Holy crap Steve… I logged off and left early from work.

    It’s not that big of a deal by the way.

    You write great articles, but I think you may be more sensitive than Joe himself! Lol.

    All I was referring to was the missed tackles and how it wasn’t just one or 2 guys who were the cause, it was the team. They, just like Sabby collectively stunk.

    But what I was also pointing out was that, if the owners and the current HC wants to be BETTER than 9-7, they need to raise their standards at ALL the positions.

    But it doesn’t even matter what anyone says… The cool thing about football, is they have to play the game… And next year there will be more retrospectives. Hopefully, the defense has turned it back around and improved… But setting the bar higher than 9-7 is naturally a goal, just an unrealistic one for the Bucs and their inexperience anytime soon… And I mean this not as a knock on the players but as a slight to the coaching… These guys growth may be stunted… They may become apathetic and this franchise can turn into a farm league once again where players bolt for free agency every year.

    I have no warm fuzzies with what we got now… Steve I’d feel better if you were the head coach… And I’m serious. I think you would be good… I mean you did learn from Dungy and got to watch Sapp and Simeon Rice play. And you seem to communicate in detail very well… You’d be a good coach. Now about your anger problems…. You’d have to work on that with the media… Although watching an ex defensive lineman cuss out the media would be pretty damn cool!

  37. Radio Mushmouth Says:

    LOL , the only fanboy here is you for Eric Berry.

    I’ve actually said that Sabby won’t even start this year , he will go back to being a productive special teams guy , which he’s always been , and Sean Jones will start.

    My only point is it’s completely STUPID to write off a guy with the talent Sabby has , after only 2 seasons of playing football ( his 1st season he broke his foot and did not play) .

    Also , former players who talk so much shit about current players , when they weren’t exactly Joe Montana during THIER career , kind of annoys me.