Bull Rush: Big Steps For McCoy, Bennett & White

August 30th, 2010

Former Bucs DE 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 his blog is fun stuff. 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 in his must-read Bull Rush column

Today, White goes very deep into analyzing all things defensive line out of Saturday’s Jags-Bucs game. Joe advises you to grab a cold beverage, tell the old lady or the boss to leave you alone, and enjoy. This is great stuff, as usual.

Even though we didn’t beat the Jaguars, I came away after watching this game very encouraged about the Buccaneers’ season.

Particularly, I thought just about every guy on the defensive line showed at least some improvement. There were a bunch of hits and pressures on David Garrard, though we didn’t come home with any sacks this game. And the effort was once again very good.

There were some problems, though, with everyone on defense being on the same page, particularly when we blitzed. At least twice we had major busts when we blitzed and nobody covered the running back out of the backfield. One time it appeared to be Kyle Moore’s fault, another time it appeared to be Sean Jones’ fault. In addition, several times when we blitzed there was no contain element of the defense away from the blitz. It didn’t hurt us at first, but then in the second half Garrard noticed and he took off running for a first down.

Now I don’t know for sure who was right and who was wrong, or if the blitzes just had some design flaws or what. But those are the kinds of mistakes that can be the difference between a win and a loss in a tight game. So it’s of utmost importance that we get those problems ironed out as we get ready to face Cleveland in a couple of weeks.

Technique wise, one thing I noticed this game was when the defensive line ran a line stunt and guys came inside they really didn’t use their rip to help them get inside of the blocker. Instead, they just stayed square and tried to push the blocker in the backfield.

I understand not wanting to get washed way down inside, but by the same token if a guy doesn’t rip into the inside gap they lose almost any chance of penetrating and either making a play or forcing the runner to go laterally instead of downhill. It’s a little technique thing that can really make a big difference.

I’m still not a fan of the five-down linemen alignment we have for short yardage and goal line. It’s simply too easy to run inside when you don’t cover both A-gaps.

I keep hoping that Coach Morris will at least consider going back to what we used to do, seeing as how what they are using now hasn’t been all that effective. But so far I’ve seen nothing that makes me believe he will change, so I guess I’ll just have to get over it and hope we don’t end up in that situation all that often.

I did like some of the things Coach Morris did with the three-linemen setup, but only when he sent pressure or had Quincy Black coming off the edge.

I don’t really think rushing an offensive tackle is really Black’s strong suit, but when he rushes it gives the three other guys an opportunity to be successful. But I can’t stand when we only rush three because it’s almost impossible to get any pressure on the quarterback and anybody, if given enough time, can find an open receiver.

With the way we were getting after Garrard with our four-man rushes, I was surprised that Coach Morris went to so much three-man rush, but maybe he was just trying to get a long look at it. At least I hope that’s all it was.

For most of the night the Jaguars were getting the passes off early anyway and not giving our guys a chance to sack Garrard. I did get really excited one time when Stylez White and Gerald McCoy ran an EX game to perfection. The ball came out quick, but if it didn’t both guys would have been free to pummel Garrard.

As for the individual critiques:

Kyle Moore: Moore’s pass rush at left end was much improved this game. He still didn’t really attempt to turn the corner outside, but he had several good inside moves. I had him with one pressure and a couple of other notable rushes. He still doesn’t look all that impressive as an inside rusher to me, though. Also, he was poor again in trying to set up a TEX with Ryan Sims. Taking two steps upfield and expecting that to attract the offensive tackle is just not good enough.

He also got a little too high down on the goal line and got knocked off the ball a little. I would really like to see him use his hands more when he goes against tight ends. He is big and strong enough to dominate those matchups, but he never seems to get good hand placement on them so he can get good extension with his arms. Because he is the left end and most offenses are right-handed, he is going to have to battle tight ends a lot. That part of his game definitely needs work.

Gerald McCoy: I was very impressed by McCoy this game. You can tell that he is getting very comfortable with the speed of the game now, and it’s not overwhelming to him. He had some outstanding pass rush moves that you probably didn’t even notice on the first glance. I had him with two pressures, a quarterback hit and three other really good rushes. By my count, he had a tackle and an assist to go along with that.

And that’s with Garrard going with a three-step drop for most of the game.

He did have a missed tackle, but it was on a play where he got good penetration into his gap and made the running back go almost backwards to try to get around him. That penetration allowed the rest of the defense to pursue and get the running back on the ground for a loss.

I still would urge caution against anyone expecting McCoy to be a world beater in his rookie season. But I can tell you this much, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he is.

Roy Miller: Roy had a quiet game this week. I think that’s mostly because he wasn’t in for a lot of the three-linemen schemes. When he was in the game, I thought he did well, though. And he did a lot better this week on the scoop cut. He didn’t fall down, and he ended up being in on the running play. He also held up well over the center in goal line and didn’t allow himself to get knocked off the ball much.

Stylez G. White: Stylez flashed big time against the Jaguars. After having his coaches taking shots at him in the newspaper for his work ethic, and other folks including me saying he needed to show up, he did just that. He had a really nice spin move and got a hit on the quarterback. He came inside on a blitz and got good pressure on Garrard. He had a good speed rush and forced a holding call on the offensive tackle. And he had a really good tackle from behind on a play where he showed great effort running down the field in pursuit.

That’s the kind of performance I am expecting out of Stylez every game, and that’s the standard he is going to be held to. And if he can go out and play like that for 16 games, something tells me our pass rush will be alright.

Michael Bennett: I’m going to go ahead and say this and get it out of the way. I believe Bennett should either be the starter or split reps evenly with Kyle Moore. It’s not necessarily a knock against Moore, but the truth is Bennett has shown himself to be the better pass rusher at left end in games this preseason. And it’s not as if he has only done well against backups. He has had some of his better rushes against starting offensive tackles, in fact. And as I have said before, and as it was proven again on Saturday, right now Bennett is the only guy at left end who is successful speed rushing around the corner.

I just believe that all other things being equal you go with the better pass rusher, and that is Bennett in this case.

Now I have about as much chance of starting at left end for the Bucs right now as Michael Bennett does, and I realize that. The Bucs are committed to Kyle Moore, and it’s not likely that they would consider benching him any time soon. I’m just telling you what I see as an unbiased observer.

Against the Jaguars, Bennett again was very productive. He had some really good rushes, got a hit on the quarterback and ended up with a tackle and a couple of assists. He might be falling too in love with his inside pass rush moves, though. He is good at getting the offensive lineman upfield and then coming back inside, but when you are the left end facing a right handed quarterback, the last thing you want to do is lose containment and allow the QB outside of the pocket. And sooner or later, if you keep going inside, somebody is going to see it and take advantage of it.

Bennett also learned a valuable lesson Saturday. And that is when you see a back offset to your side, you always have to be aware that they might chip-block you when you aren’t looking for it. Bennett was trying to get upfield to make the Jags’ quarterback pull up on a roll out pass and one of their running backs caught him from the blindside and put him on his back. Not a good look at all. lol

Brian Price: Price had a much better game. He obviously got his legs back up under him, and it was a lot harder for the Jaguars to move him or get him on the ground. He had a really good hit on Garrard off of a three-man (plus-Quincy-Black) pass rush look. He did have one bust, though, when he forgot to loop around for containment when we ran a line stunt. But all in all, for his second bit of live action of the preseason, he held his own.

Tim Crowder: Crowder played well but he didn’t flash all that much. He did have one good rush that I noted, but for the most part he was where he was supposed to be, doing his job. But he just didn’t really fill up the stat sheet.

Normally, I would go through the rest of the guys on the roster, but they didn’t play all that much this game. Plus, because the DVR gods are jerks, the last two minutes or so of the game was not recorded. Therefore, I will just note that although Carlton Powell may not have enough talent to play in the NFL, I have really been impressed with the way he has bounced back from a decidedly horrible first preseason game against the Dolphins.

The guy goes hard, and you can tell it means something to him. I feel like that’s the kind of guy who I would want on my practice squad because I think he will actually appreciate the opportunity and, in time, just might develop to the point where he IS ready to play in the NFL.

I’m not trying to campaign for the guy, but I am saying I really appreciate seeing young guys who bust their ass and show marked improvement from game to game.

Well, that’s it for this week. Just two more weeks before the real bullets start flying. I don’t know about you but I can hardly wait!

27 Responses to “Bull Rush: Big Steps For McCoy, Bennett & White”

  1. ZeroExpectations Says:

    Another amazing article by Steve White.

    Thanks for taking the time to break it all down.

    You are going to turn the (some) Buccaneer fans into the most savvy of NFL bystanders.

    The more you talk football details as you do, the more it makes your stuff standout. If I had to rank Tampa Sport Writers, you are at the top of that list. I say that seriously, because I haven’t found anyone that has rivaled your insight.

    Sorry Joe.

  2. ZeroExpectations Says:

    I also like how you reinforce your few opinions with facts too. And having little to no opinions, and mostly substance is top notch analysis in my opinion.

  3. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    ZeroExpecatations – No need to apologize. There’s no substitute for experience. Steve White has that. And he’s a great writer. And he knows this defense. Winning combination.

  4. Steve from Oregon Says:

    Great ariticle again Steve….thanks for giving me something to enjoy while having my morning cup of coffee……by the way, I wouldnt mind seeing you lined up out there again.

  5. Elliot from Orlando Says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Steve next to Raheem as an advisor, so I can be sure that all of these things are being looked at by our HC/DC. I really hope Raheem has Steve’s site on his favorite list and checks it daily to see his opinion.

  6. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    Elliot – Thanks to technology, Joe knows how often these pages are viewed at One Buc Place. Rest assured nothing is missed.

  7. Spirit of '76 Says:

    Good to hear that someone at OBP reads these articles. the only thing better than the principles reading this info and using it, would be for Mr. White to become the Defensive Line Coach/Assistant Defensive Coordinator. What are the chances?

  8. JimBuc Says:

    This game was indicative of how the season will likely go. Becuase the Bucs are likely an improved but still deficient team, the Bucs will probably lose a few games despite obvious improvement in certain areas. This is why — to the chagrin of many here — a few of us have suggested that the win-loss record is not the sole standard by which to judge the Bucs progress. Shocking, I know.

  9. Gatorbuc15 Says:

    Awesome article Steve!

  10. Night Man Says:

    and thats why it pays to have first-hand experience, awesome stuff man, i wish you played receiver back in the day too, so you could give me some good insight on that position group or really any other group for that matter

    your articles are my kind of read

  11. pdiddy Says:

    Every article this guy puts out is an excellent read, keep it up Steve.

  12. Jonny Says:

    @sgw Another great one. Thanks Steve.

    I remember reading on one of your articles last season that Moore plays very well against the run and that could earn him the starting LE job soon. If that is true, how does Bennett fare against the run ? I really want the best guys at their positions to be our starters and please tell me why Moore should start over Bennett.

  13. ZeroExpectations Says:

    Jimbuc, this column is not about you and what you think.

  14. JimBuc Says:

    Nor is about you Zero and what you don’t think.

  15. ZeroExpectations Says:

    jimmy you said “This game was indicative of how the season will likely go. Becuase the Bucs are likely an improved but still deficient team, the Bucs will probably lose a few games despite obvious improvement in certain areas. This is why — to the chagrin of many here — a few of us have suggested that the win-loss record is not the sole standard by which to judge the Bucs progress. Shocking, I know”

    Completely off base with the blog.

    Nice job! You just added ZeroValue to the commentary. 🙂

  16. JimBuc Says:

    Thanks for illustrating my point Zero.

  17. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    Nice job Steve.

    What role do you think Price will play this year on the line? NT or back-up DT? Or even some LE like Mark mentioned after the draft?

    What position do you suggest he play?

  18. Bob Says:

    Steve: The defense seems to be blitzing a lot in pre-season. Do you feel Raheem is experimenting to see what works but also requiring the teams we play on the schedule to spend their time preparing for it or is he doing it because the defensive line currently needs help?

  19. safety Says:

    Zero and JB, stop bickering or I’ll pull this car over and spank you on the side of the road!
    (Channeling my Mom, dealing with us brats in the back seat)

    Awesome article as usual Steve. I love your optimism as it relates to GMC.

  20. JimBuc Says:

    Steve, great insight as usual. Hope things continue to improve.

  21. Sgw94 Says:

    Thanks all, glad you liked it.

    @javier I think Price is gonna back up both Roy and McCoy. If Roy plays well thats probably how it will stay this year. But if he falters or we get off to a slow start you can expect Price to be inserted into the starting line up. He will likely come in on 3rd downs as a pass rusher inside too.

    @bob I think we will blitz a lot this year because that seems to be Coach Morris’ style but I think our D Line will pass rush well even without it.

    @Jonny I would say Moore and Bennett are the same in terms of playing the run. In some respects Bennett may actually be better like when they are going against a TE

  22. Dew Says:

    Thanks Steve. I’m always anxious to see your write-up after a game. I like Bennett too.

  23. BigMacAttack Says:

    I don’t know who did what, but there was pressure, real pressure for a change and that is awesome. The Bucs were camped out in the Jaguar’s backfield. They’re getting better.

    I would bet my tickets that if the Bucs hired Steve White as a D line coach, they would sell more tickets. I just know they would and he would get a better pass rush and fans in the stands. They had 2 D line Coaches last year, so why not this year? If they want to keep Wash, great, but he could use some help.

  24. RastaMon Says:

    Stylez G. White……will have a huge year….
    he is surrounded by young churning burning dynmos…thing is he knows

  25. Bob Says:

    Steve: Thanks for the really insightful information on our defense. Do you think Ruud has the strength to stop a big back straight on? Do you think the Bucs will eventually recruit a big, fast “thumper”(Ray Lewis type) to either back up Ruud or eventually replace him?

  26. sgw94 Says:


    Ruud isnt an explosive tackler but when he has a clear shot on a guy they almost always go down. I would like a thumper type personally but this team has a lot higher priorities in my book. I can definitely live with Ruud as the MLB if we upgrade other positions

  27. gotbbucs Says:

    steve, in your opinion, who makes the final roster on the d-line? does ruffin have a chance?