A Plea To The Bucs’ Defensive Minds

April 29th, 2010

Former Buccaneers defensive end Steve White (1996-2001) is a devoted student of the game. He’s even authored a coaching guide and coached defensive linemen at the University of South Florida. And after all those years breaking down film with former defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and the other architects and legends of the Bucs’ defense, White shares his knowledge with JoeBucsFan.com readers every week in his must-read Bull Rush column.

Yesterday, White served up a deep Xs and Os look at how the Bucs could successfully integrate their young defensive tackles.

Today, White offers up a bonus take in hopes the Bucs organization takes notice and considers this subtle change to its defensive line play.

I want to make a direct plea to whom it may concern over at One Buc Place.

When I got into the NFL almost every NFL team lined up their defensive end to the strong side in base in a 7-technique (outside foot splitting the tight ends stance) with their outside hand down.

I’m not quite sure who came up with it, but every team did it. And it was horrible. Not only did we still allow the tight end a free release on passing plays. We also, by alignment, made it easy for even mediocre tight ends to cave us inside on stretch running plays outside. To make matters worse, we were constantly losing our gap, which was the inside C-gap between the tight end and tackle, even though we were lined up there initially because with our outside hand down we ended up stepping outside while the tight end was stepping outside and bam, there goes a cutback lane.

But then one day in the offseason after my rookie year, the defensive ends and Coach Marinelli, our defensive line coach, decided that instead of doing what had always been done, we would start lining up head up on the tight end, most of the time with our inside hand down.

With that alignment, tight ends had to work to get around us before they could get down the field on a pass. It also made it a mano-e-mano matchup with the tight end on blocking plays. And we expected to, and usually did, dominate that matchup. But maybe most important of all with our inside hand down even though we were head up by alignment we would always be taking our first step towards our gap, which makes it easier to keep the tight end from cutting us off.

Needless to say the new alignment worked, and all of a sudden a bunch of other teams in the NFL were doing the same thing. Nowadays you will be hard pressed to find a team still employing a 7-technique on the strong side of base defense in a 4-3.

That point leads me to this one.

There are some formations that cause the current Bucs linebackers to remove themselves from the tackle to tackle “box.” In that situation, or even sometimes just for the hell of it, defensive coordinators may ask the nosetackle to play what is commonly referred to as a “G” technique, where they are head up to just shaded inside on the backside guard but still have the -gap inside of them as their gap responsibility.

The thought process generally is that if the nosetackle can get push on the guard while maintaining their A-gap, they will make it hard for a running back that starts strong to make a downhill cut all the way back to the B-gap, which is open initially because of the linebacker being out of the box. Instead, in theory, the running back will have to keep running strong or, if they try to cut back, they have to go laterally or even give ground, which gives the removed linebacker and the rest of the defense a few split seconds to rally to the ball.

The problem is that forever and a day, for whatever reason, the nosetackle has been taught to put his outside hand down in this alignment. This creates the same problem for the nosetackle that it created for us when the guard blocks inside. Either the nosetackle has to come off cautiously so as not to lose their gap, in which case they end up getting pushed off the line of scrimmage, or they come off hard and the guard gets inside them easily. Either way it gives the running back an immediate downhill cut back lane.

So my suggestions/recommendation/plea is that we experiment with having our nosetackles play a “G” technique with their inside hand down. This allows them to still get off the ball hard while maintaining their gap. An added plus is it also helps them get into a pass rush should that occasion come up.

If you try it in pads and it doesn’t work, then you can always go back and scrap it. If you try it and it DOES work, however, you will have helped your young nosetackles immensely. And I bet that soon enough other teams will follow your lead.

Just a thought.

18 Responses to “A Plea To The Bucs’ Defensive Minds”

  1. Buddhaboy Says:

    Has one-buc contacted you about coming in as a consultant. I heard both new d-tackles said that they talked to sapp, and sapp said he was gonna help them out. Might this be something you are interested in? We need all the true BUCS to get this thing going again.

  2. aldo Says:

    any chance someone can see this at one buc place??

  3. Half full Says:

    Great article. I find your passion for the Bucs very awesome. It’s a unique situation to have a retired player who knows his stuff, be so informative and accessible!

    Can’t thank you enough Steve!

  4. sgw94 Says:


    Nah, I don’t think that kind of invitation will be forthcoming. But if it does I would definitely help out as much as I could. And even if nobody formally asks me, if I see something that could help any of the guys on the D Line I will find a way to get that message to them.

  5. sgw94 Says:

    @Half Full

    Im just glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Radio Mushmouth Says:

    Consultant, hell.

    Steve’s old ass could probably come out of retirement, try out for the team, and make it. That’s how bad our defensive end situtation is right now.

  7. BigMacAttack Says:

    Does that “G” have strings attached?

    Can we get a drymark board diagram like before, maybe a Vlog.

    I’m afraid Todd Wash isn’t smart enough to understand the verbiage and if you paint a pretty picture, he may just get it. With Sapp coming in to tutor McPrice, maybe you could pass this along to Warren. He probably has some new Dancing with the Stars moves as well. I think it helped Jason Taylor. It’s all about the count, 5,6,7,8.

  8. thomas Says:

    @Steve White:

    I have document that I am not a Rah guy as a head coach. I do believe that he could be effective as a D Coordinator but believe that he showed poor judgment last year transitioning away from and then back to the Tampa 2.

    I cant believe that we fans should expect much improvement of our 32nd ranked run D with adding these 2 rookie DT’s to go with Miller, and Kyle Moore, Crowder, and Styles outside. My hopes are not too high. We still have small LB’s and Sabby well Sabby god-love him is about as useless in run support/ in the box as any player that I have watched in years.

    Do you agree? This D seems 2-3 years away from substantial improvement even if the team gets marginally more talented. I caant recall a defense turning around in a year based on mostly 1-2 year players. Sapp and others argue that the first two years are a big adjustment from college.

  9. sgw94 Says:


    I agree with you on the point that we won’t all of a sudden be world beaters next year on defense. I do think we will improve and I think it will be a marked improvement but lets face it, even if you move up 10 spaces in our run defense you are still at 22. Now the one are I expect us to improve the most on is scoring defense. I think going back to playing Tampa 2 for a full year plus a better pass rush potentially and Myron Lewis getting some playing time covering on the outside that we won’t give up as many big plays and thus will keep the games closer. But its definitely going to be a work in progress and one of my biggest fears is that guys either get so used to losing that they stop caring or that losing causes a split within the defense and guys stop playing as a unit. It was truly remarkable to me that for how bad we sucked last year you still didn’t hear any guys on defense calling other guys out. I have a feeling though that if things don’t start off well this year that might not be the case.

  10. thomas Says:

    Thanks Steve. I wasnt expecting much from Myron Lewis this year but I hope that he does contribute.

    I was also shocked that guys werent more frustrated w/ Sabby, I heard a few comments thaat I thought implicated sabby, particularly after the atlanta and even NO games late in the year though.

    It seems as though Rah supports him.

  11. sgw94 Says:


    Uhmmm you can count me in the group of people frustrated with Sabby. My only hope now is that Sean Jones ends up starting instead of him. If Sabby is our starting Strong Safety this year I would adjust my predictions/expectations downward.

  12. Nukepineisland Says:

    Great read Steve thank you.
    Very informative just like your last article.

    I do have a question/idea as well; the Bucs last year experimented with a 3-4 . Would a Price , Miller , McCoy front in a 3-4 work ? I know its probably stupid but I thought with those three up front and some combination of Hayes, Ruud , Crowell , Black/Watson at LB maybe?
    Get your best players on the field type thing , Your thoughts ?

  13. sgw94 Says:


    Actually I was going to address the 3-4 in my other post but decided I had already been kind of long winded. The only reason to address it at all in my opinion is because for whatever reason Dominik came out and said Price could play some defensive end too. Now people kind of took that and ran with it but the truth is we don’t have the personnel to run a true 3-4 down after down after down. What we can do is use it on 3rd and long situations to use some blitz packages and give the offensive line something to think about. In that situation the probably lineup would be Price and McCoy at the ends and Miller at Nose with White as one rush LB and Black at the other. Ruud and Hayes would be in the middle just like last year. But its not something we could play and get away with it probably more than 10 times a game and even that is probably pushing it.

  14. Nukepineisland Says:

    If nothing else it gives the other team something to practice during the week eh ?
    Thanks for the reply!

  15. thomas Says:

    I actually like that 3-4 personell on obvious passing downs but it would be real scary in rushing situations.

    I was getting concerned about offenses increasingly exploiting the Tampa 2 and that it was becoming antiquated. i am not sure that it solely relates to personnel. But I understand w/ our personnel that we are stuck.

    I know the Raheem Bates marriage failed but I am not so sure that long-term (all most of you care about) if Rah would have had some patience and stuck with it and drafted accordingly that it may not have turned out better sooner.

    I know Ronde was lobbying his buddy, i mean coach, to revert back.

  16. sgw94 Says:


    I can’t speak for anybody but me but Bates’ scheme sucked and I said so long before most people got around to it. It wasn’t just the results, it was more so that the concept of the defense was not fundamentally sound. You’re asking your defensive line to two gap as if they are in a 3-4 but the linebackers play like they are in a 4-3 and all too often leaving your corners in man to man defense with no safety help deep because they had to be worried about playing the run. There was maybe 3 people on the whole defense suited to playing it and so not only would you have had to overhaul just about every position, even if you got better players there was no guarantee that it would work. It has been interesting however listening to some pundits make the claim that Bates should have been afforded more time until they could bring in more of quote his kind of players, especially since these folks could never actually explain what kind of players it would have taken to make the defense work.

    But hey why let details get in the way…

  17. sgw94 Says:


    Here is a blog I wrote after the 2nd game against the Bills. I actually had held my tongue for awhile because I saw that things were going in the wrong direction in the preseason but I wanted to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.


    Mind you this was before I started writing for joebucsfan and before many people were even reading my blog. It was my hobby at the time and so its not as polished but you will get the drift. Heres an excerpt:

    I thought Ronde had an outstanding game other than the long touchdown he gave up to Lee Evans which brings me to another topic. Our scheme absolutely sucks. I had my reservations when I saw it in the preseason and my impression has only gotten worse. First of all when you are a coordinator, whether offensive or defensive, you play to your players’ strengths and you design the defense or the offense in such a way as to show case their skills. Now on a handful of blitzes with Ronde this has been the case, but for the most part the rest of the time its like Jim Bates is tryingn to put a bunch of square pegs in some round holes.

    The Bucs ran the same blitz in the first game and the second game where the defensive end loops inside and the slot corner/nickelback blitzes off the edge. I have yet to see this blitz work or even come close to working. Not only that, but yesterday it was apparent that someway somehow the Bills always, and I do mean ALWAYS knew when we were blitzing. And each and every time their adjustment was to go over the top because we kept playing our corners up in bump and run. The reality is we were damned lucky to only get hit on two long bombs.

    Not only that but its rare to see our defensive line do any stunts on early downs. The reason this is a major problem is because it gives the offense stationary targets. Even if we only do a handful of line stunts a game the result is that now the offensive line can’t step off as confidently in the run game and may hesitate coming off the ball. It also helps to get defensive linemen into a pass rush game versus play action pass.

    Needless to say I haven’t been impressed with Bates so far this year. But we shall see if it gets any better from here on out.

  18. Jacob Says:

    I’ve been loving the last few articles Steve.

    I have a question….as the idea of our line once again becoming proficient with pass rush games combined with blitzes and otherwise is intriguing to me. You don’t usually hear people talking about the defensive line as a unit similar to an offensive line….but using pass rush games effectively seems like it’d require some level of chemistry and level of comfort between linemen, which in turn could help a unit of linemen perform better as a group than some groups with seemingly more talent.

    So are there any D-lines that you’ve noticed that are particularly effective with the rush games that you’d like our guys to watch film on?