Bull Rush: A Sit Down With Stylez White (Part I)

May 17th, 2010

Former Bucs DE Steve White

Former Bucs defensive end Steve White, a JoeBucsFan.com analyst, author and blogger, talked shop recently with current Bucs defensive end Stylez White (no relation). The result is a two-part feature that no Bucs fan will want to miss — much like all of Steve White’s Bull Rush columns.

The feature takes readers inside the Bucs locker room, shines light on defensive line coach Todd Wash, and goes in many other directions, as well.

Grab a fresh cup of coffee and enjoy. Part II pubishes on Tuesday.

Over the course of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 3-13 season last year, there were only a few bright spots. Without a doubt, one was the play of defensive end Stylez G. White. In a season that most would want to totally forget, his ability to get after the quarterback was one of the few reasons fans had to get up and cheer, especially on defense.

Of course, Tampa Bay fans know the story of how the former No. 4 in the draft, Gaines Adams, may he rest in peace, was traded away. And that finally afforded White an opportunity to start after having racked up 13 sacks as a reserve the previous two seasons. But there are two things about that change you probably didn’t know. For one, the move came as much to a shock to White as it did to anyone.

“I was out, man, and when I heard about it I had no idea. I would not think Gaines, may he rest in peace, was gonna be traded,” White said. “And when I heard about it, I was kind of floored like, ‘What?’ Know what I mean? It was like, ‘ok. So now what are we doing?’ You know, I’m like, ‘Did we trade him for anybody? Did we get somebody else in?’ A whole bunch of things just ran through my mind. I was just really confused and afterwards I just have to wait and see what they’re gonna do. Bring in a new guy? Am I gonna be the guy they go to? So it was a whole bunch of emotions that night.”

But the second thing you probably didn’t know was more shocking. It turns out nobody actually sat down and talked to Stylez about what his role would be after the trade. When I asked him how the Bucs broke the news to him, White said said, “First they never told me anything. They never told me anything. …I didn’t really believe that I was going to start until the the day of. Like that Sunday.”

Initially, I was shocked to hear that it was handled this way because I would have thought the coaching staff would have wanted to make the transition go as smoothly as possible, especially after such a disastrous, winless, start to the season. But in many ways this approach made sense.

Avoiding telling White he had the starting job nailed down perhaps would keep the fire in his belly. And if it affected White, he certainly didn’t show it. He made the analogy that “it was like the first day I made the team. No one was like ‘Hey Stylez, you made the team!’ It was one of those things like, know what I mean, like alright, we’ll keep it moving. It was just one of those things, you know.”

Pain Of Losing Ran Deep; Raheem Kept Team Together

Talking to White, it was obvious he was affected by the disappointing way the 2009 season went. Having experienced the 6-10 season that first year under Coach Dungy, I found myself nodding my head as he talked about his personal low point of last year. When he said, “The lowest point I had, I think it was when we were 0-7 or something like that. It was just….it was bad. It was bad, and I was like, man, you don’t even wanna go out. You don’t even wanna go grocery shopping.”

That almost gave me a flashback myself. I can still vividly remember going out only when necessary and even then keeping my head down just in case a miracle might happen and somebody would recognize me as a Buccaneer. Losing always sucks, but especially when its in such a spectacular fashion.

So many fans don’t really get just how much the game means to most players. For fans, NFL football is something to watch on Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings. For players, it’s their life and what they eat sleep and breath. As disappointed as we are as fans after a loss, just about all the players are more disappointed by a factor of a million.

They are the ones who put in the work all week, every day in the hot sun and with the pressure of the world it seems upon them. And then you go through all that and you feel like that day will be the day when you get the losing monkey off your back, and when it doesn’t happen, it’s terribly demoralizing.

As Stylez himself put it “You know it was embarrassing. It was just embarrassing, man. We couldn’t generate a win. We couldn’t stop anybody and people came in and I don’t care how bad they were the week before, they came in and you know pretty much like wiping their feet on us. It was pretty bad. It was very embarrassing. I’m sure the rest of the guys agree.”

But in the midst of it all, there was a calming force that kept the team together, White said. It wasn’t because players were holding hands and singing kumbaya, and it wasn’t because a lot of guys were playing for contracts. No, the calming force was head coach Raheem Morris, a fact that should give Bucs fans some confidence going into this year.

“I can tell you this from the inside, it was a little chatter here and there. And when it was getting to a point where it was like ok blah blah blah, you know, that’s when Raheem stepped in. He was like, ‘Well if y’all got problems why don’t y’all talk about it. Don’t go tell, don’t go whisper in somebody else’s ear, you come talk to’em like a man.’ And he was like ‘if you have a problem with me or anybody else on the team, come talk to me about it. Don’t be bitching about stuff. And whispering. If you got something to say say it. Period.’ And I think everybody took, you know, took to that and everybody was like alright well maybe we need to help him out. You know maybe we need to relax. He said all of y’all who thinks that y’all might be pointing fingers I’m sure that y’all didn’t have a great season, either.”

For me it was gratifying as a former Bucs player and as a fan to hear it from somebody actually inside the locker room just how instrumental Coach Morris was in keeping the team together and keeping them playing hard and for each other in the face of what had to be a very miserable season for all.

How miserable did it get on defense? Well, at some point, even the littlest things were morale builders. White told me, “Just to have a three and out. The first time we had a three and out was huge for us.” That, ladies and gentlemen, tells the whole story because in the past getting a three and out was a given for our defense. Last year, it was a relief.

Of course, eventually my conversation with Stylez turned to Jim Bates and his scheme. Stylez said he initially was excited about the scheme because for the defensive ends there wasn’t any talk about having to two-gap or anything like that. For them, the focus was going to be pass rushing which is, of course, right up his alley. But when I asked him what, in his opinion, was the problem with Bates’ scheme, he had a pretty simple answer: It was too predictable. “So predictable that it was easier for people to gash us. That’s how I felt about the situation.” he said.

Stylez also was somewhat supportive of Bates, as well, and he again made the point that perhaps the Bucs just didn’t have the personnel to run his system, a fair point I would agree.

Confidence, Consistency and Discipline Are Keys

I asked him what he felt like we needed to do going into this season to improve our defense and more specifically our run defense which ranked dead last in the NFL. Stylez responded by referencing the team’s draft picks in Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, and Myron Lewis, along with the confidence everybody now has in Coach Morris and his scheme.

But he also made reference to some old school tenants of football. He said, “We gotta be more consistent. We got to play more together ball. And we just have to be unselfish. I think mainly as coach would say we gotta be disciplined. Once we do that everything will take care of itself.”

I think if most teams on any level followed that advice, they would almost have to see some improvement.

And White also has taken a hard look in the mirror and even though he played at a high level last year he identified for me some areas he wants to improve this year. “Being quicker. Being quicker off the ball. Being more creative with my pass rush. That’s just gonna help us win. Getting sacks and fumbles, making them turn the ball over. I wanted to become quicker so I got a little slimmer lost a little weight worked on my footwork. Being 30 about to be 31 this year, I want to be more in shape and in better condition. And I think the rest will take care of itself because I believe I’m pretty good skillfully and just being in better condition allowing me to stay out there longer, go a little harder it will pay off.”

White has taken up boxing in the offseason to help him improve in many of these areas and he believes his production will go up tremendously this year. His response to my question about his personal goals this year was anything but bashful. “I want to have more fumbles whether it be from running backs (or quarterbacks). Definitely want double digit sacks. Anywhere from ten to a thousand, I’ll take it. I’m looking for double digit sacks I’m looking for us to win a lot more games than three. I’m looking for us to even go deep into the playoffs. And you know what, that’s attainable. Its a pretty big goal but its attainable.”

Stylez White knows that most people, from fans to pundits, would be skeptical of the Bucs making a playoff run this year. He himself admitted that its still not apparent what this team will be because of their youth, their roster turnover and the fact that they will have to rely on so many rookies, highly drafted or not.

But as we spoke it was apparent he would not be setting his sights lower just because others are. He is committed to helping to turn the team’s fortunes around, and you get the definite impression that he won’t accept anything less.

Part II of Steve White’s feature on Stylez White will run on Tuesday. The two delve into Todd Wash, Stylez’s learning experiences with Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp when he was on the Bucs practice squad in 2002, and more.

23 Responses to “Bull Rush: A Sit Down With Stylez White (Part I)”

  1. bucfanjeff Says:

    Any chance SGW is going to take in the OTA session and give us your opinion of some of the new guys, albeit in shorts?

  2. Dave Says:

    QUICK: We need RADIO and ERIC and others in here bashing Raheem as soon as possible. We can’t have all this positive talk about the coach… they will not stand for it!!

    I have been saying since day, you idiots can have whatever impression you want and misinterpret everything he says because you don’t like a young coach and don’t like the way he talks… your problem. The bottom line is PLAYERS love the guy and give it up on the field for him. That is what matters.

  3. RahDomDaBest Says:


  4. Eric Says:

    Would anybody really expect Mr. Sylez White to say anything different?

    C’mon now, lets be real.

  5. sgw94 Says:


    Its certainly possible that Stylez was just reciting the company line but I should tell you this. I didn’t ask him one question about Coach Morris specifically. His quote was in response to me asking him in a broad sense what kept the team together in the face of those mounting losses. He could have gone in which ever direction he wanted to but HE brought up Coach Morris and gave him most of the credit. It is what it is.

  6. Matt Says:

    I’ll go on record in saying that I believe Stylez will have double digit sacks next year.

    He was EASILY our best defensive lineman last year and with (hopefully) some decent DTs in the middle, his job should get a bit easier.

    Here’s to hoping.

  7. Gary Says:

    Well said Dave. The only thing that matters is if he has his players on his side, which this post proves. The best thing about this are the quotes from Rah. He is straight up all the time, with the media, fans, players, everyone. You have to love that. Accountability was something that was absent during the Chucky era. I’m excited about Rah, he will make us alot better this year, then Thomas, Eric, Radio, and the rest of the haters will come crawling back.

  8. Eric Says:


    I understand, and do not dispute that the players like Raheem and do play hard for him.

  9. Gary Says:


    I hope you asked him whether the Bucs D linemen read this website and your posts in particular. Dying to know if they are learning from your insights.

  10. BigMacAttack Says:

    “I want to have more fumbles whether it be from running backs (or quarterbacks). Definitely want double digit sacks. Anywhere from ten to a thousand, I’ll take it. I’m looking for double digit sacks I’m looking for us to win a lot more games than three. I’m looking for us to even go deep into the playoffs. And you know what, that’s attainable. Its a pretty big goal but its attainable.”

    I love that attitude. Great job Styles and please be contagious. Styles can be a leader on the defense. They have to believe as a team and believe in each other. You hear so often about gap integrity and trusting your teammate will do his job. I think it’s coming and I believe in Raheem and his team.

    Excellent interview and report Steve. Did you discuss pass rush games with Styles and your ideas on how they should implement these? Every day that goes by, I feel better about the team. I have one more question for you Steve, and that is your take on Donald Penn and him getting a contract extension. He has been integral to the offense and he seems to hold up well against the best defensive ends in the league week in and week out. Do the Bucs have someone now that could actually fill Penn’s shoe? I don’t see it.

    SGW= Steve White and SGW = Styles G White. Quite a coincidence as both Bucs’ DE’s.

  11. BigMacAttack Says:

    One more thing.

    Thanks Steve for all you for us.

  12. RahDomDaBest Says:

    Such a waste of time these off-season are. Can’t wait for the Season… and the excuses. To quote Herm Edwards “That’s why we play the game!”

    No sense in debating who is delusional and who isn’t.

    100 sacks aren’t attainable though… neither is having a winning season.

    The only questions I have are:

    Will we be a be able to stop the run?
    Will we be able to stop the long TD bombs?
    Will Freeman be able to stop throwing picks and convert on 3rd down more often?

    If we answer those with yes’s then we improved. Otherwise, it’s all hot air… I’ll check back in in pre-season.

  13. Mark Says:

    @ Steve. I sincerely appreciate your writing style and no nonsense approach asking the questions us fans would ask…

    Your perspective as a former player/buc/dlineman adds so much to the interview.

    The Wash segment is of great interest to me. I’m hoping there was discussion of the impact of Wash having to change systems and how he imparts/learned the difference in the line play. That guy is somewhat an anomaly to us fans (as are both Line coaches “O” and “D”.)

  14. Mark Says:

    and an afterthought… Stylez’s response on how our coach handled things when the going was getting tough is encouraging. The more I read/hear about Coach Morris – the more I am certain he will be successful.

  15. sgw94 Says:


    No OTAs for me. Im pretty sure everybody will look decent in shorts. Id rather wait for training camp when the pads come on.

  16. sgw94 Says:


    Nah didn’t ask him if they read my posts. Thought it would come off kind off as too self important you know.

  17. sgw94 Says:


    Needless to say we had conversation aside from the interview on a wide range of topics. I didn’t ask him about Donald Penn but my personal opinion is that he is the real deal and the Bucs should have already locked him up because finding a left tackle of his character at that age isn’t an easy task.

  18. sgw94 Says:

    And thanks for the compliments. I really appreciate them

  19. RahDomDaBest Says:

    Totally agree with Steve… Penn needs to be signed by Tampa… the ball is in Tampa’s court on this one. If the Bucs play ‘hardball’ like they did with Antonio Bryant, then Penn could easily just leave next season… the Bucs cant preach rebuilding young if they are NOT locking up the young developed talent. What are they gonna do, let Penn walk, a starting NFL caliber LT and then go draft a LT with their first round pick next year? Only to have him take years to develop?

    The Bucs need to take advantage of the opportunities to re-sign their guys… because every young player awaits free agency like its Christmas.

  20. Sander Says:

    Well done, Steve, very cool.

  21. Louie Says:

    @Gary: “The only thing that matters is if he has his players on his side, which this post proves.”

    No, the only thing that matters is winning. I don’t care how much the players like The Dream, if they don’t win he’s not going to last long.

    @Gary: “Accountability was something that was absent during the Chucky era.”

    Did you hear The Dream defend the Blocking Icon today? That was not accountability. He defended Clayton’s reasoning for his poor season last year. Unbeliveable!

    I think The Dream can be a decent head coach one of these years, but I’m afraid he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. I want the Bucs to win (now), but I just don’t see it happening. I hope I’m wrong.

  22. nick Says:

    styles is best d lineman we have period

  23. Jonny Says:

    Stylez is the best defensive player we have, period.