Bull Rush: Raheem Talking A Good Game Plan

June 11th, 2010
stevewhiteBy STEVE WHITE
JoeBucsFan.com analyst

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

Today, White gives an X’s and O’s look at what Raheem Morris was talking about during his news conference yesterday following the final OTA practice of the week.

I will be the first to say I was a major critic of Jim Bates last year and with good reason. From the first preseason game on, what I saw was a defense made of square pegs trying to be jammed into round holes.

I know a lot of people have defended Bates by pointing to the fact that we didn’t have the players to run his defense, but if even the casual observer could recognize it, why couldn’t he?

You go into games with the defense you have, not the one you wish for, and the better defensive coordinators understand that. And in all reality, what sense did it make to try to teach a lot of these guys how to play his defense knowing that in a year or so many of them would be replaced?

Everyone knew that we would be upgrading our defensive line, so did we really get anything out of having Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims two-gap every play?

I think not.

At some point, in my opinion, Bates should have recognized that not only was his defense not working, but that it wouldn’t work with our personnel. And that should have been the time to adjust his game plans. The best coordinators on either side of the ball are adaptable because no matter how good your scheme is, even week to week you have to adjust to different opponents. But from my perspective all I saw were the same calls over and over again, and the same results, as well.

If the definition of insanity is truly doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome, our defense was bat shit crazy for most of last season.

Welcome To Revis Island

Now when Coach Morris took over there were noticeable improvements, but because he had to implement a defense that several of his starters had never played in, there were still some definite growing pains. But listening to his press conference yesterday I came away impressed with the direction he is going.

Morris singled out two guys and how he plans on using them in his defense. He first talked about Aqib Talib and gushed about his singular talents. The guy really is on the cusp of greatness, as long as he stays away from off the field problems.

Morris talked about how he plans on having Talib take one guy away at times in 3rd-and-long situations and shifting the rest of the defense accordingly. You can call it our version of Revis Island, if you will, and I can’t tell you how many more options that gives a defensive coordinator.

Having a guy with superior cover skills and allowing him to focus on just covering one guy by himself all over the field allows you to blitz more, double team secondary receivers and tight ends, roll the secondary to the opposite side of the field and really confuse the opposing quarterback.

Imagine for a moment that against the Saints Talib takes Colston all over the field and allows the rest of the secondary to focus on shutting down Jeremy Shockey and Devery Henderson. Imagine Talib blanketing Steve Smith and leaving whomever ends up as the Panthers’ secondary receiver to double coverage. If our defense can successfully pull this off it will likely lead to greater success in getting off the field on third downs in passing situations.

Quincy Black vs. Cato June

The other guy Coach Morris talked about was Quincy Black and how his talents allow them to play more under defense.

Under defense is when you kick your strong side or Sam linebacker down onto the line of scrimmage and outside the strong side tight end, and you shift the defensive line weak. Now you have three guys, the Sam LB, defensive end, and a nose tackle on the line of scrimmage to the strong side of the offense’s running formation.

I never thought Bates used Black well because he kept him off the line and in space.

For a guy who is as physical and as fast as Black, this was mostly a waste of his strengths. By putting him on the line you give him the opportunity to get physical with the tight ends at the line of scrimmage on passing plays. You also open up a plethora of blitz schemes with Black getting after the quarterback.

And obviously you make it a lot harder for the offense to run the ball to the strong side. Now back when we had smaller Sam LBs like Cato June playing, under defense wasn’t necessarily something that would play to their strengths. But with a guy like Quincy Black, it both allows him to let his natural abilities shine through and makes our defense stronger and more flexible.

None of this means we are going to be gang busters on defense this year. Coach Morris still will have to make the right calls at the right times and the players will still have to execute.

But at least I see what his philosophy will be, and it’s obvious that he is going to try to maximize the talent that he has.

That in and of itself is a step in the right direction if you ask me, and I’m a little more excited to see just how it works out once the Bucs put the pads on.

25 Responses to “Bull Rush: Raheem Talking A Good Game Plan”

  1. JimBuc Says:

    Great stuff as usual Mr. White.

  2. oar Says:

    Mr White, Great read once again!

  3. oar Says:

    JimBuc, We agree! Did hell just freeze over? LOL

  4. Eric Says:

    Very fascinating.

    I do wonder about the entire change in scheme thing, which I guess is back to a Tampa-2 with some added wrinkles.

    I thought some of the explanation for the 08 season ending defensive collapse was that the Tampa-2 had lost some luster and teams were moving away from it, especially in regard to defending big strong running attacks(i.e. Panthers).

    Interesting how things have kinda gone full circle, although I may not be fully comprehending the league trend.

    In any event, I suppose the “scheme Excuse” ought to be expired for the coming season., along with”changed offensive coordinators”.

  5. sgw94 Says:


    See I never saw the end of 2008 the way some folks did. People didn’t just “figure out” our defense which again is more than just playing Tampa 2 even though that’s the way its commonly referred to. To me the problem was that we had Phillips get hurt (again) and we weren’t very strong up the middle. Quick name me the starting under tackle and nose tackle from 2008. Most folks will remember Hovan, but who started opposite of him? At the end of the year our passing defense which probably was more Tampa 2 than not was still relatively strong. Our problem was playing the run which I bet you was more often not Tampa 2. Carolina, Atlanta, and the Raiders all had big days on the ground against us. But I still didn’t see it as being a flaw schematically. Their jimmy and joes were just better than ours. Bigger than that several of the better defenses last year still ran pretty much the same style of defense as ours. The Vikings, Saints, Colts, and Panthers all played pretty much the same style as us. The difference of course was that those teams had more talent in key places, plain and simple.

    No defense is going to dominate when they have weak links on the field no matter what guru or scheme they employ. You will hear many people talk about how a 3-4 defense is now the way to go as if its some kind of panacea but if you look back to last year two of the bottom 4 defenses in the NFL were 3-4 defenses. Even with an improved scheme our defense won’t function well unless guys go out there perform including some rookies who we will have to rely on and that’s why im not completely sold on how good we can be yet. But when you boil it down scheme is definitely a good starting point but you have to have the talent to go with it.

  6. Eric Says:


    What do you think would have happened if Jim Bates had tried to implement his defense with the 1997-2002 bucs defensive personnel?

    Same disaster or lesser?

  7. sgw94 Says:

    There’s one thing I should add about that video that I thought was good. Coach Morris said guys are starting to understand why he is making certain calls and that means a LOT. When guys know WHY something is being called and exactly what their role it they play faster/better.

  8. sgw94 Says:


    I would say it probably still would have been a disaster but not as big of one. Sapp was not a two gap guy and Culpepper was an undersized nose tackle. Our linebackers may have been better because they were bigger like Hardy but there still would have been issues right up the middle and by two gapping him Sapp wouldn’t have been near the pass rusher that he became. I don’t think our secondary was built for all that man to man defense either. But because we had more talent we would have found a way to not be last in the league in run defense IMO

  9. JimBuc Says:

    Steve — so didn’t the Bates defense cause two problems for our players? One being that they were not well-suited for it physically and two being that they played slower due to their lack of familiarity with the system? It seemed to me that when Morris took over we started playing much faster. I assume that was due to familiarity with the scheme.

  10. sgw94 Says:


    In a word, yes. Besides its hard to play fast when you’re two gapping and you hardly ever blitz or do any stunts to take the offensive line off its game.

  11. Lakeland Bob Says:

    Steve-nice to hear some positive comments about Raheem.You sure command a lot of respect on Joe’ site.Anyone but you making these comments and the haters would have unloaded.

  12. oar Says:

    I think the defensive players weight gain(to fit Bates scheme more) was not a benefit either.

  13. Eric Says:

    @Lakeland Bob

    Your absolutely right on that front!

  14. tampa2 Says:

    “Steve — so didn’t the Bates defense cause two problems for our players? One being that they were not well-suited for it physically and two being that they played slower due to their lack of familiarity with the system? It seemed to me that when Morris took over we started playing much faster. I assume that was due to familiarity with the scheme.”

    You are a lucky guy, Jimbuc. When I stated virtually the same thing to you yesterday in a Morris article Steve said my statement was laughable. Today he agrees with you! The only difference was that I said 1) Why did Morris wait 10 games to change the defense back to the Tampa 2, and 2) Why did Morris take credit for the positive results when is was clear the the players were much better playing the defense they were trained to play! I guess the Difference was the reference to Morris.

  15. Eric Says:

    Ah but Tampa2 takes a swing anyhow………………

  16. JimBuc Says:

    oar — good point

    Tampa2 — consistent. Actually Tamap2 as I recall you were essentially trying to deny Morris any credit by saying that the D just played better because they were trained by Kiffin. I think that was what Steve said was laughable. I agree with Steve.

  17. tampa2ali Says:

    Actually eric most of that year in 08, we only had given up 1 hundred yard rusher prior to those 4 games, I honestly think it was some staff issues monte leaving new gm and new head coach. I think they turned they back on the season. And also getting rid of jovan haye didn’t help.

  18. sgw94 Says:

    Tampa 2

    You do know that when you leave a comment people can go back and look it up right? Please don’t make up shit about something I’ve said. That’s a pet peeve of mine. You said that the improvement last year at the end of the season should be credited to Kiffin rather than Coach Morris because the players had been “trained” to play in that system when guys like Geno Quincy and Roy didn’t even play for Kiffin. Your comment was delusional and a reflection of your feelings about Morris and not much else. If you want me to not call your comments laughable here’s a novel concept. Stop making laughable comments

  19. JimBuc Says:

    Right, because Derrick Brooks is the kind of guy that would turn his back on the season. He was just faking the hamstring injury.

    They were old, they got beat up. 9 guys from that team never played again. The Panthers showed everyone the weakness. That is how th NFL works

  20. Eric Says:


    I agree on those points, folks always forget how well the bucs played the first 12 games of that season.

    It seems to me that even back in the glory days of the bucs D they had a little trouble with big strong o-lines and power backs. They were totally brilliant against the high power passers, like “the greatest show on turf” at least until that dreadful Peyton Manning Monday Night Game, which they were never quite the same after. IMO.

  21. JimBuc Says:

    Tampa 2 — this is what you actually said to me that caused Steve to chime in:

    “People like yourself said “When Morris took over the defense it did so much better”. The only contribution Morris made to the defense was “finally” allowing the defense to play what they were “trained to play”, under Kiffin! Morris gladly took the credit! But Kiffin had trained the Players.”

    I think you might owe Steve an apology.

  22. JimBuc Says:

    No doubt that Kiffin leaving was probably a distraction, but the notion that the team quit playing is laughable. They were in the hunt for the playoffs. Derrick Brooks does not quit. He was the heart and soul of the defense. He was injured and I think one of the Dts was injured too.

    In the last quarter of the Panthers game, the Panthers did not even try to disuise the fact that they were running and the Bucs could do nothing about it. Atlanta followed the same game plan and Grises was in. We barely lose. Does that mean we barely quit? We played a good Chargers team that beat us through the air, as I recall, and then the Raiders ran over us.

    Sometime you just get beat.

  23. Eric Says:


    Your right about that Jimbuc, I don’t think they quit either. Had a tough penalty against the Falcons when they had a golden opportunity to win in regulation, which would have meant playoffs.

    But I do specifically recall going to watch them play the Vikes and they did a great job shutting down Peterson. (i think that was 08, but could have been 07) Also did well against the Titans.

    as for the panthers running wild, seems to be a recurring problem, should see pretty quick whether it has been fixed in game II.

  24. JimBuc Says:

    Eric — I also remember that they were doing well early in the season againt the run. Very tough end to the season.

    You mentioned the Panthers game this season as a good indication on where the D stands. I wonder if Steve might comment on whether the Bucs should be improved againt the run? I know we have two younger guys in the middle, but does their inexperience negate what they might add in terms of strength/speed? Maybe we will be better because of Miller’s play too? Hard to tell.

  25. RustyRhino Says:


    Thanks for another informative post.

    I like the idea of blitzing out of our Defense more from the line of scrimmage, not from the “normal” position. Putting a Big Fast LB who can cover a TE and get after the QB will be fun to watch.. it appears to me this is what most other Tampa2 teams do this and do to us, but we never did much of it. WHY NOT???

    Hearing how you are describing Talib’s job with the movement of Black’s location, this makes more sense to me. Can this not give our line a few more sec/ms to get 1/2 a step closer to the QB making him uncomfortable.. indeed

    Thanks again Steve
    Great stuff from someone who knows from the field.