Bull Rush: Bootlegs A Definite For Browns

September 3rd, 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 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 deep into analyzing all things defensive line out of last night’s preseason finale in Houston. 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.

Since the Texans-Bucs game largely was a matchup of backups versus backups, I’ll give a quick recap but not the full write-up you’re used to.

The defensive line played ok as a unit last night. We only came home with one sack but several guys pass rushed well. And, of course, we won the game so that’s always a plus. But I don’t think anyone would call this a dominant performance up front by any means.

A few negatives: We still aren’t looping around for containment when we run our line stunts. Sooner or later that will come back to bite us.

The Texans also ran a lot of bootlegs, and they fooled us on all but one play. The general rule of thumb I have on bootlegs is when you see buttholes and elbows its a boot. When it’s a running play, the offensive linemen try to stay square and get up the field to make their blocks. Because they can’t be downfield on passing plays, they turn and run toward the sideline on bootlegs. At the very least, a defensive end should slow down and check the quarterback once he sees a blocker’s backside.

I can almost guarantee you that after watching this film the Browns are going to run several bootlegs just to see if we have solved that problem.

Another thing I noticed is that some of our players still don’t understand how important it is for them to be in their gap on running plays. I saw several times where a guy would get cut and then the ball ran right through his gap. There were other times when guys would get cut off from their gap and instead of fighting to get back where they were supposed to be; they took the path of least resistance and guess where the ball went. Yep, you guessed it, right where they were supposed to be.

It was mostly the backups committing these infractions, but some of these guys are going to have to play for us on Sundays, so they need to get it together.

For the personal breakdowns, I’m only going to mention a handful of guys.

Michael Bennett: Bennett had another productive game with four tackles, one for a loss, and two pressures. He was the one guy who played the bootleg correctly by the way.

He continues to show good pass rush ability from both left end and inside at the tackle spots. On the negative side he didn’t set up the offensive tackle while running a TEX game. Again, for the umpteenth time, TWO STEPS UP THE FIELD IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!! He also needs to work on really ripping into his gap when he is running a line stunt, which will help him to escape the would be blocker and help to keep him from getting cut. The more I see of the guy, though, the more I’m convinced he is our best option right now at left end. We will see how that plays out as the season goes on.

Carlton Powell: Powell again showed the kind of effort you like to see from your young players. He also had a pretty productive night with two tackles, an assist and a knocked down pass. He looked particularly good on a couple of plays avoiding the cut block and making the play in his gap. Unfortunately, he got reached a couple of times and allowed the runner to run through his gap. I’m not sure whether Powell is talented enough to play on the NFL level, but I think if he keeps working like he has been he definitely will be in the years to come.

Dre Moore: Moore turned in his best performance of the preseason last night in my opinion. But it was also the most frustrating to watch. He had two tackles a pressure and a pass knocked down by my count. But in between the plays he made he just looked so disinterested at times.

Literally on some pass rushes it appeared that he just ran into the guy in front of him just to bide his time until the pass was thrown and he could run to the ball. I’m not saying that’s definitely what he was doing, but it was definitely what it LOOKED like he was doing. His effort has been so up and down in the preseason games that you have to wonder sometimes if it’s the same guy.

There is no question that he has a lot of talent and when he turns it on he is a very hard guy to block. But you can not play in the NFL if you are Tarzan one play and Jane the next. It just doesn’t work that way. I was really hoping for big things from Moore this preseason but I just didn’t see it. At least not on anything resembling a consistent basis.

Erik Lorig: Lorig had some decent rushes last night and that was good to see. He had a hit on the quarterback as well. But Lorig is one of the guys I was referring to about not being in his gap all the time. I can tell him that I got my spot on the active roster my rookie year from the practice squad because another guy on the active roster refused to stay in his C gap against the Lions and he ended up getting cut. That’s just how serious it is. And that’s how serious he has to take it if he wants to both make the team and make a serious contribution on Sundays.

George Johnson: Johnson had a decent night last night. He did have a penalty for roughing the passer, which we could have done without. But the very next play he made a good inside move and got himself a sack. He also had a tackle for loss and another tackle by my count. On the negative side, he has to learn that our defensive ends spill the fullback on split bellys and he also got sucked in really bad on a bootleg fake.

All in all though, he looked pretty good for a guy who we signed after camp had already started.

That’s all I have on the game last night. If you saw something I missed, post it in the comments section.

15 Responses to “Bull Rush: Bootlegs A Definite For Browns”

  1. Gatorbuc15 Says:

    Man Steve! You know how to write a great blog! You give great insight to the D-line!

  2. eric Says:

    I also noted the Brownies were using a lot of hurry up offense. Might complicate our plans for rotation.

    I don’t think Jake is a big threat to heave it deep, the games i saw he only hitting the short stuff. Might be a good game for somebody to jump one of those like 55 in the old days or perhaps Ronde.

    Not looking for it to be easy though, Jake can still run an offense.

  3. Night Man Says:

    Hey Steve,

    Do you think Carlton Powell’s effort is enough to give him a chance on the practice squad and at least give him some time to develop with the Buccaneers?

    Two plays in particular that made me think this guy is worth keeping were:

    The one right before Lynch made his second INT and on the play where Lynch made his first INT and he was pretty much running in stride with Lynch 91 yards down the field at 300 pounds to help make a convoy for him so he could score.

    It was awesome stuff imo

  4. bucfanjeff Says:

    Steve, you know better than I, so I’ll take your word that the Browns will run some boot legs, but we’re still talking Jake Delhomme here. I’m not really all that scared of him.

  5. sgw94 Says:


    Id really like to see them keep Powell around on the practice squad. He had a rough first game but really has bounced back well and shown great effort in the last 3 games.

  6. Bucc Fan In Hawkeye Country Says:

    So if we struggle against bootlegs, should we be concerned about the Wildcat the Browns are prolly gonna throw at us?

  7. oar Says:

    MrWhite, Love your stuff! Keep up the great work!

  8. Bob Says:

    Steve: I know you’re impressed with Michael Bennett, but I’d like your evaluation on his potential upside. Are we dealing with an eventual every down contributer or a possible star?

  9. sgw94 Says:


    Bootlegs and the Wildcat are two different animals. A bootleg is designed to make your keys take you the wrong place. A wildcats premise is that so much will be going on that you wont trust your keys.

  10. sgw94 Says:


    I dont know about star, but I do know Bennett is a good pass rusher and very athletic. If given the opportunity I could see him putting up numbers

  11. Blackmagic00 Says:

    Steve, thanks for the little bit of offense insight. Still wish we had another guy just like you to break down the offense. Oh well at least we get the defense. Thanks again Steve.

  12. tha truth is... Says:

    Great article as always. I see no reason why any NFL couldn’t use u 2 some kind of capacity. Reading ur articles makes me pay WAY more attention 2 tha D-Line. Always great 2 see ur articles.

  13. RastaMon Says:

    Coach…..comes to mind
    apply to the CIA
    great analytical writing
    I am more serious abot the later

  14. Pete Dutcher Says:

    Wow…Steve is scouting the Bucs for the Browns now? 😉

  15. McBuc Says:

    Pete, I am sure the Brown’s have a guy that already told them everything Steve is telling us.