Healthy Defense Will Inflict “Major Headaches”

July 28th, 2010

The great performance X factor for most NFL teams, especially those as painfully thin as the Bucs, is injuries.

A few key guys on the shelf can nearly destroy an entire defense or offense (See Sean Mayhem circa 2009). analyst Steve White, author of the heralded Bull Rush column and his own Passing On The Game blog, breaks down the Bucs defense in advance of training camp and is quite certain the 2010 edition will be give teams “major headaches,” if it can stay healthy.

White analyzes position by position on his blog. Joe’s giving you an excerpt of the look at linebackers, but you can check the whole thing out here.

The three starters at linebackers are pretty entrenched right now. It appears that Coach Morris has big plans for Quincy Black as the starting Sam linebacker, Barrett Ruud is primed to have a career year, and Geno Hayes in his second year as a starter may be on the cusp of big things. I like all three players and I think Hayes in particular may have a break out year. But after those guys there are a lot of question marks.

Adam Heyward is probably the most versatile of the backups and a guy the Bucs actually would trust if he were pressed into action. But while he is physical he doesn’t have the kind of size nor speed that you look for in a starting NFL linebacker. Then you have Jon Alston and Niko Koutouvides who will probably get first dibs on the other two backup linebacker spots but neither guy is anything special. I know a lot of people are high on late draft pick Dekoda Watson but I am not sold on how quickly he will transition from the college game. Instead I think he along with fellow rookie Rico McCoy will have opportunities to make their name on special teams this year.

Last year we kept seven linebackers and at the moment we have nine on the roster. Only two guys are going to be cut, but at this point that could be anybody not named Black, Ruud, or Hayes.

In 2009, Mark Dominik proudly pronounced that linebacker was where the greatest competition was on the Bucs.  “It’s probably our strongest position on our football team, suprisingly I bet to a lot of our fans. That our depth and our talent is pretty good there,” Dominik said. “So that’s a good battleground to watch during training camp if you want to see some real competition.”

Joe remembers those days, when Jermaine Phillips was in line to take over for Derrick Brooks and never-was-healthy Angelo Crowell was the big offseason free agent signing on defense and poised to be the strong side linebacker.

It’s a new season, though, and the Bucs have no competition for their young starting linebackers. 

White’s spot on when he expresses concern about depth at that position.

32 Responses to “Healthy Defense Will Inflict “Major Headaches””

  1. Mauha Deeb Says:

    Quality depth is an issue with practically every position on the team, outside of QB.

  2. Not A Rocket Surgeon :P Says:

    “…The potential is there and if we can get our run defense better there really is no limit on how good this defense can be this year. That’s not happy talk, that’s a fact…”


    I believe this D is going to pretty damn good overall about game 8 and on…

  3. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    The problem I have with the Bucs analysis from last year, is that people think the Bucs did well on defense at the end of the year. Which is false.

    The optimist’s notion that the defense got better somehow?

    How was the defense better again at seasons end when all we did was play back-ups?

    12 @ Atlanta Falcons (Backup QB)
    13 @ Carolina Panthers (Backup QB)
    14 New York Jets (Backup QB)

    That and the yds surrenderred on defense… we still gave up a bunch of yds.

  4. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    And in regards to the secondary?

    15 TD’s plays of 20 yds or more getting torched?


    DAL Miles Austin 42 yard pass from Tony Romo
    DAL Roy E. Williams 66 yard pass from Tony Romo
    DAL Patrick Crayton 80 yard pass from Tony Romo

    BUF Terrell Owens 43 yard pass from Trent Edwards

    (Who got burned?)

    NYG Sinorice Moss 18 yard pass from Eli Manning (notable)
    (Who got beat?)

    WAS Santana Moss 59 yard pass from Jason Campbell

    PHI Jeremy Maclin 51 yard pass from Donovan McNabb
    PHI Leonard Weaver 20 yard pass from Donovan McNabb
    PHI Jeremy Maclin 40 yard pass from Donovan McNabb


    NWE Sam Aiken 54 yard pass from Tom Brady
    NWE Ben Watson 35 yard pass from Tom Brady

    GNB James Jones 74 yard pass from Aaron Rodgers
    GNB Donald Driver 32 yard pass from Aaron Rodgers

    ATL Jerious Norwood 22 yard pass from Chris Redman
    ATL Roddy White 5 yard pass from Chris Redman (Chris Redman drove the field and beat us!)

    SEA John Carlson 29 yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck

    NOR Robert Meachem 30 yard pass from Drew Brees

    TAM Micheal Spurlock 77 yard punt return (this is what tied the game… one big play and we end up winning… could have

    went either way)

    Last game of the season Jason Snelling ATL ran for 147 yds… most in the the 4th quarter.

    All from here (Box scores)

  5. McBuc Says:

    Hey Joe…What does the TO signing mean to Antonio Bryant? Maybe Dom made the right move after all.

    Javier…back ups are part oif the game, and we had a bunch of new guys that could have been considered back ups as well. To say they did not improve is false.

  6. Jonny Says:

    Javier. What you seem to ignore on purpose is the starters that were subbed by backups in that game. Matt Ryan was barely mediocre throughout last season and he was subbed by Redman who is one of the best backups in the league. Putrid Jake Delhomme was subbed by Matt Moore and I actually think it contributed to the Panthers win. Dirty (by performance) Sanchez was replaced by Kellen Clemens and Jets ran a run heavy offense (huge weakness with the DTs we had).

    Yes we gave up a bunch of yards, but the defense would have done almost the same way even if the starting QBs were playing. Where our defense got better was in avoiding giving up big plays against pass.

  7. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    You said: “Where our defense got better was in avoiding giving up big plays against pass.”


    Games Raheem took over the defense:

    (These are touchdown passes)
    1) GNB James Jones 74 yard pass from Aaron Rodgers
    2) GNB Donald Driver 32 yard pass from Aaron Rodgers
    3) ATL Jerious Norwood 22 yard pass from Chris Redman
    4) ATL Roddy White 5 yard pass from Chris Redman (Chris Redman the back up, drove the field and beat us!)
    5) SEA John Carlson 29 yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck
    6) NOR Robert Meachem 30 yard pass from Drew Brees

    I will say this, it appears as if our pass defense got better against back-up QBs and weaker teams down that last stretch. That is a true statement.

    Check Mate. My stats vs your delusions.

  8. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    Shall I pull up all 15 touch down passes? would you care to analyze who got burned on all the big plays? All 15 of those big play TD passes are surely HighLight plays from the other teams. Of course, there are so many, it would take me quite some time.

    Shall I reveal all of the long TD runs of last year? I think that weakness was obvious enough, and besides we addressed that in the draft with the DTs.

    Now, I also think Sean Jones, the new 3rd round CB, and the rest of the guys, even Sabby, maturing another year, I do think that we will be better. I really do. All I am saying is, don’t make last year out to be something is in FACT was not.

  9. Not A Rocket Surgeon :P Says:

    Chill pills…

    Rodgers, Brees and Hasselback are not backup QBs…

    Morris took over the Defense on 24 November 2009. 2 days after the week 11 loss to the Saints. Green Bay long tds were in week 8.

    Judge the defense from week 12-17…

    Much different than weeks 1-11.

  10. Gary Says:


    Are you saying the D was the same (worse?) after Morris took over? I love your cute little stats, but please get real.

    And you used the dreaded “check mate”… oh no! Guess we can’t come back from that.

  11. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    I’m chill bro. My points are stated. I will let everyone else spin this anyway they want. But the Bucs were bad last season, ALL OF LAST SEASON. Whill they bet better this season? They have no where to go but up, so hopefully. Will it be because of Raheem’s excellent coaching? Very, very skeptical. Kind of like a bad QB playing conservative and not making mistakes by throwing INTs, I hope Raheem doesn’t LOSE any games for us. (Fingers crossed)

  12. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    Reshuffle the math, this is my last comment, promise, the Bucs gave up 9 (yes NINE!) big touchdowns of 40 yds or more. That is half the field or more per pass play.

    I say this because I vividly recall the Bucs defense giving up such huge pass plays, and why? Because we probably haven’t given up that many big pass plays in 15 years.

  13. McBuc Says:

    Javier…3-13! We all know they were bad last year. Thanks for the tip though.

  14. jesse Says:

    check mate? really! they clearly got better on D after Raheem took over. check mate, wow youre a douche!

  15. McBuc Says:

    Javiar…Bucs pass d was ranked 12th at the end of the season, that is not too bad.

  16. JimBuc Says:

    “My points are stated.” You mean like your points about Morris’s impact upon taking over the defense, which included stats from the Green Bay game . . when BATES was still the DC (ugh) . . . and that descrided Aaron Rodgers as a “back-up” QB? (Ugh)

  17. gotbbucs Says:

    for some reason there are a ton of people who think morris took over the defense when freeman took over as qb. way to throw a ton of stats out there javier that have nothing to do with morris’ defense. so much research all for nothing.

  18. Jonny Says:

    Javier, you’re quite a specimen. I said Bucs D did not give up many big plays like they did during Bates’ regime. I also told you playing against backup QBs did not matter as starters of those teams were barely better than their backups. A big passing play in NFL is classified as a huge completion (in 30 yd range). Compare the numbers of our D between both the DCs, Raheem’s D>Bates’ D. Yes opponents drove against Bucs D even during Morris’ scheming, but Tampa-2 defense was never about not allowing yards.

  19. BigMacAttack Says:

    OMG, where did we get this guy from. Where the hell is JimBuc when you need him??? Is this JokeBucsFan now or what. I can think of a hundred rude things to say but I need another Hobgoblin.


    Soccer Game comes on in approximately 3 more beers.

  20. ZeroExpectations Says:

    So what Javier is trying to say is not only did Tampa give up the most yds on rushing defense, but they also gave up a ton on big bomb plays too?

    So the Bucs were just bad across the board last year, all year, hence going 3-13?

    And what JimBuc ‘the mother hen of JBF’ is saying is that the Bucs played solid defense under Raheem Morris as BOTH the Head Coach and Defensive coordinator, but its not Raheem’s doing whe he was the Head Coach in the first part of the season? Interesting, convenient, but interesting.

    Well it sure is a good thing football season starts soon. Then hopefully all this back and forth will be settled once and for all.


  21. BamBamBuc Says:

    Okay… time for me to show up with the stats to show the defense improved in weeks 12 through 17, over weeks 1-11.

    First off, points allowed. Weeks 12+ the D gave up an average of 17.67 points per game. Weeks 11- the D gave up an average of 29.4 per game.

    That’s almost a 2 TD difference per game less once the switch was made.

    Total yards allowed: Weeks 12+ 344.3, weeks 11- 378.3

    But, the biggest change was turnovers. The D created a turnover in every game in weeks 12+. The first 10 games we created TO’s in 6 of the 10. The last 6 had at least one in each. Admittedly, the offense turned the ball over at least once in every game last year except the Dallas game in week one, but the defense was finally starting to create turnovers consistently.

  22. BamBamBuc Says:

    As a matter of fact, to show the difference between games 1-10 and games 11-16…. the first 10 games we only held the opponent under 24 points once (week 4 against Washington – lost 16-13). After Morris took over the D for game 11 (week 12) the defense only gave up 24 points or more once (week 14 against the Jets – lost 26-3) and held the opponents under 21 points the other 5 weeks.

    Now, 20 points is still too much, but they couldn’t keep opponents under 24 for the first 10 games. That is a HUGE difference. So, they lost 4 of the 6 games, but you can see the improvement….

  23. JimBuc Says:

    Zero — if you are going to try to summarize what I typed, you should at least try to get it right. This is NOT even close:

    “And what JimBuc ‘the mother hen of JBF’ is saying is that the Bucs played solid defense under Raheem Morris as BOTH the Head Coach and Defensive coordinator, but its not Raheem’s doing whe he was the Head Coach in the first part of the season? Interesting, convenient, but interesting”

  24. McBuc Says:

    @Zero…Jimbuc is right, your post was not even close to what he said…interesting…

  25. Capt.Tim Says:


  26. Gary Says:

    And our resident stat man BamBam comes through again! Thanks.

    Everyone knows we got better under Morris, and pts/gm is the most important stat.

    BigMacAttack, whats in a hobgoblin? Sounds refreshing, will have to try that next time.

  27. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    Weeks 12-17 we played

    Week 12 L @ Atlanta Falcons (BACK-UP QB)
    Week 13 L @ Carolina Panthers (BACK-UP QB)
    Week 14 L New York Jets (BACK-UP QB)
    Week 15 W @ Seattle Seahawks
    Week 16 W @ New Orleans Saints (77 yd punt return gave us the luck we needed)
    Week 17 L Atlanta Falcons (Snelling ran for 147 yds down our throat.. mostly in qtr 4)

    Week 12 Total Yds 297 Pas Tds 222(BACK-UP QB) Rus Yds 75
    Week 13 Total Yds 309 Pas Tds 152 (BACK-UP QB) Rus Yds 157
    Week 14 Total Yds 310 Pas Tds 135 (BACK-UP QB) Rus Yds 175
    Week 15 Total Yds 380 Pas Tds 252 Rus Yds 128
    Week 16 Total Yds 373 Pas Tds 249 Rus Yds 124
    Week 17 Total Yds 397 Pas Tds 214 (Ran it down Raheem’s throat) Rus Yds 183

    Moral of the story, you apologists are trying to give Raheem waaaaay more credit than he should get. Raheem’s ENTIRE 2009 season was a complete disaster.

  28. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    You better come correct next time boy!

    I win 🙂

    And for the accusations about me being that RahDom guy, is that all you got? You want to somehow link me to someone else to undermine what I am saying?

    Again, my facts against you dudes delusions. 🙂

  29. McBuc Says:

    It is a fact that they sucked…3-13 is the proof. It is also a fact that they ranked 12th in pass defense. Not sure how you win, but woohoo for you. Do you discount all the opposing defenses after lefty was pulled, since TB went to the number 2 guy and then the number 3 guy? Does that mean we can say TB lost because of back ups? NO, TB lost 13 games, so they pretty much sucked in 2009. Back ups are part of the game, and TB was playing rookies and first time starters all over the field, so does that mean that the teams that beat them can not say their wins were legit? Of course not, it is all part of the game. Quit living in the past and get ready for some football!

  30. McBuc Says:

    I meant their teams were not legit…oh well, got a bit worked up over some dude named Jaiar, I need a vacation.

  31. BigMacAttack Says:

    Who the hell did we piss off to deserve these two new clowns? Javanese Zero

  32. BamBamBuc Says:

    Javier… not gonna comment on the stats about the defense giving up 12 fewer points per game the last six games? Not gonna comment on how the first 10 games they couldn’t hold anyone but the Skins under 24 points but the last 6 there was only 1 team that scored over 24? Winning games is about scoring more than your opponent, part of that is keeping your opponent from scoring. The defense did much better at that the last 6 games. That’s the only stat that I care about when it comes to defense, how many points did they allow? If I had to add a second stat, it’d be how many points did the defense score, which relies on turnovers. And they were getting turnovers consistently the last 6 weeks. I don’t see how you win, but feel free to think that…. I’ll be watching training camp, preseason and the 2010 regular season to see how the team does in it’s sophomore season with this group.