It’s Not Just The Defense

September 20th, 2011

"Man, all of these stinking comebacks I have to drum up are making me feel as old as you McNabb."

There’s no way to sugarcoat this: The Bucs thus far in the 2011 season have played awful in the first half.

Sadly, this is not a revelation. It’s a disturbing pattern the Bucs have displayed during the Raheem Morris era. Hence, Josh Freeman’s celebrated eight comebacks.

It seems eye-RAH Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune is willing to finger the defense for these first-half ills.

The Lions and Vikings each had their way offensively with the Bucs in the opening half the past two weeks, and as much as Morris appreciates Sunday’s stunning 24-20 comeback win at Minnesota, he wouldn’t mind a laugher once in a while.

“We don’t have to win every game like that,” Morris said with a laugh Monday. “Let’s go win some games in more convincing fashion, just for the head coach’s health.”

While Tampa Bay’s offense hasn’t scored more than seven points in 56 consecutive opening quarters, it is the porous first-half defense that looms as a major issue with the high-powered Falcons coming to town.

While Kaufman’s facts are accurate, Joe is of the mind to put the heat on the offense. Think about it: If the offense is moving the ball, the defense can’t be on the field. So if the offense is doing it’s job, it’s hard to blame the defense.

In short, Joe firmly believes the entire organization must do a thorough evaluation of how the team prepares each week for game day. If need be, have a few ex-coaches come in and watch practice and unit film study sessions and solicit their feedback. Guys like Dan Reeves or even Brian Billick. A fresh perspective should always be welcome and a different set of eyes may catch something the organization is not noticing.

The fact opponents have their way with the Bucs each first half, only to see the Bucs spring from a cocoon and look like a playoff team in the second half tells Joe preparation in the days leading to a game is simply awry.

Have to give Morris credit for righting the ship week after week in the second half. He’s has had a knack for doing this since he first took over as the Bucs head coach.

It is the first half, however, where the entire coaching staff is failing.

23 Responses to “It’s Not Just The Defense”

  1. stimpy Says:

    This is really a major concern for the Bucs. As pointed in the article this has been an issue since last year.

    I see a major problem if we dont get this corrected ASAP. We will not continue to win games like if the ship keeps floundering in the first half.

  2. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Right now, I think Freeman is the reason for the slow starts. He seems to start with a laid-back attitude, knowing that he can turn it on whenever he wants. Generally, teams take on the attitude of their starting QB, especially when he is true leader and talent like Josh. There may be other reasons as well, but this is what it seems like to me.

  3. Buc N' A Says:

    Couldn’t agree more with you Joe. The “Off”ense getting 3 and out’s for an entire half,just leaves the defense hanging out to dry. Where do they get a chance to rest? The Bucs defense has always been based off speed. Even back in our Defensive heyday, when the offense kept them on the fired too long it didn’t matter that we had Sapp, Brooks, and Simeon. They got gassed and got beat up. Same scenario here. The offense needs to at least string together a couple first downs. They’ve been so inept that the D probably doesn’t even bother sitting down. Just stand on the sidelines waiting for the inevitable 3 and out punt.

  4. Kyle Says:

    Here’s the problem with your reasoning. Yes the defense stopped the Vikings on the first drive this week, but the offense was able to put together a 4 minute 11 second drive, which is closer to 6-10 minutes in real time. Plenty of time for the defense to get rested. So what happens next? The defense gives up a long drive. Look at the Lions game. Was it the offense that gave up a long drive to open the game?

    The offense needs to step up, for sure, but I don’t think you can blame one more than the other in this case. Look at other teams that struggle on offense to start out. Their defense comes through and gets the offense the ball back. It’s no coincidence that when the defense got the Vikings to punt on their first possession, the offense was able to get a little something going.

    My point is it works both ways. The defense tires itself out giving up long drives, and takes the offense out of a rhythm, while the offense puts the defense in a tough spot by going 3 and out. It’s not a recipe for winning, that’s for sure.

  5. Meh Says:

    I don’t think you can point the finger at any one side in particular. Every single coach and player on both sides of the ball should be taken out to the woodshed for that first half. When it is that atrocious, nobody escapes the blame.

  6. Fritz50 Says:

    I can see the reasoning on both sides of this argument ( Offence’s fault or the Defence’s) and lack the intellect to know for sure. My GUESS is that it’s a whole team sort’a thing. I do, however, agree with Joe’s suggestion to brimg in some outside consultants. I wish more organizations could see the value of an objective view. Course I didn’t feel that way when my company brought in a consultant to teach our Execs how to “Manage through Intimidation”…LOL

  7. kh Says:

    Is Joe still clamoring for Caddy after last night?

  8. Joe Says:


    Caddy proved last year he is no longer an effective starting running back. He reinforced that status last night.

    Coming off the bench is a different matter.

    How many touches does the great Kregg Lumpkin have this season? Odd.

  9. kh Says:

    Pretty sure Lumpkin could fumble a game away.

  10. tony2cents Says:

    The success of this team lies on the shoulders of Josh Freeman, not the defense. I agree with Jack, Freeman might be the reason for the slow starts. I’m definitely not knockin the guy, but he looks like he overthinks too much early on. He needs to play more with his instincts rather than his head. Like he does in crunch time.

  11. Pete Dutcher Says:

    Lumpkin will never get better without experience.

    It could be he’s rusty. Regardless of what anyone says, not having coach-led practices affects the speed of practice. The little camps they had were likely laid back because they were player run. Thay’ll just have to get out of that habit again.

    But, although I see Freeman working a little slow, I also see pass-catchers not making plays, not running the right routes, etc. I think it rests on the whole offense.

    The defense is young. Their coaches, inluding Rah, are maing adjustments on the fly for each game…and the best time to do it is at halftime.

    As the Defense get’s more experience, they will start to recognize things more and start doing a better job. It’s just going to take a handful of games for them to even start to do this.

    Remember…with our offense coming out so quickly, coaches don’t have much time to explain things on the short times they are off the field during the game.

    That’s why I think that if the offense kicks it into gear the defense will start to improve…because they’ll have more time to make adjustments.

    I think a no-huddle is the best way to go…or the fast huddles that the Pats do.

  12. Bucworld Says:

    I believe that Jack is right. Freeman plays better in the second half and so do the entire team. Some of it is also play calling. We need more hand offs to Blount and more quick slants to Williams in the first half.

  13. Joe Says:


    Pretty sure Lumpkin could fumble a game away.


  14. Macabee Says:

    I’m not going to profess to know the problem, but I do know this, there is a problem. It has happened enough times to know that it is not a coincidence. This is a matter of fact. It’s as if they’re using the 1st half to the game plan for the 2nd half. I am hesitant to believe that the young players are nervous or intimidated in the 1st half and become embolden and brave in the 2nd half. Logic makes me doubt that Morris gives such a motivational halftime speech that it changes boys to men and if so, why couldn’t that Knute Rockne inspiration be given before the game starts. I’ve admitted that I don’t know the reason, but you can tell from my diatribe that I have my suspensions. I’ll take a win any way that I can get it, but the Tums and Maalox costs are starting to add up!!

  15. Macabee Says:

    I have suspensions too! But in this csae, I meant “suspicions”.

  16. McBuc Says:

    I think everyone needs to go back and read Joe’s articles from the off season. he stated many times that if the offense does not click the Bucs will suffer. He points oput that the offense is a little older and has progressed further than the defense. Joe states that the defense is not ready to carry the team, and that the offense has to put up points often. Long drives are preferable, to keep the other offense off the field. Anyone who thought this defense would come out of the gate looking like the 2002 Bucs is crazy. I think they have the ability to get to that level, but just like the old days it takes time.

  17. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    Sorry, but Joe’s right…this problem is on the offense. They’ve had more three-and-outs in the first half than any team in the league so far this season. They need to give the defense a rest and establish some ball movement. As soon as the defense comes off the field they barely have time to get re-hydrated and take a seat before they have to put their helmets back on and run back onto the field. That is just unacceptable.

  18. crazy Says:

    The difference between the first half and second half is a measurable improvement in effort and execution. Too bad they continue to put in an 80% effort on both sides of the ball for far too many minutes of the game. It’s probably not a surprise the youngest team in the league would start games this way so I guess we’ll have to see how many games it will take for the team to figure out it’s how you play the game that counts.

  19. kh Says:

    Agree completely, our defense would be a lot more productive if our offense wasn’t going 3 and out every f’n drive.

  20. BamBamBuc Says:

    The problem in the first half is the responsibility of both the offense AND defense, just as the success in the 2nd half and come from behind wins are also due to both offense AND defense. The defense has yet to allow a 3rd down conversion in the 2nd half this year. Without that, Josh Freeman and the offense could never come from down 17-0 to win the game. Every score we’d get, they’d match and we’d never gain ground.

    That said, both need to step up in the first half. I don’t care if the defense has to force 3 and outs every time until the offense scores, but if the offense goes 3 and out, the defense has to hold solid. I also don’t care if the defense is on the field for 20 minutes in the first half giving up 8 minute drives, the offense has to see that and match it or score quickly. Either one, but the offense has to pick it up if the defense is fighting for long periods to stop the other team.

  21. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Well put BamBam Buc. I feel they are both equally responsible for their horrendous play early in games. I’m wondering if it’s starting to be more of a mental thing than a physical thing. They hear it every day, every week, so perhaps they are just thinking about it too much. I just keep thinking we are going to snap out of it soon, just by pure odds. I mean, it can’t really continue every week, can it???

  22. Blountforce27 Says:

    I think part of the problem on defense is we are trying to do many things that our defense wasnt built for such as man coverage and the 3 man fronts. I believe if we just get back to the basics and play an 8 man box and 3 deep zone coverages like we did under kiffin we should be ok. I know its predictable but it was still effective. Just my oppinion

  23. McBuc Says:

    HI Buc, kind of like “this is the 11254345 time Tampa has returned a kick without a TD” or “The Bucs never win when the temp at kick-off is below 49 degrees”. I think you may be onto something. Perception is reality…Penn kind of said the same thing, iI think he said “we are talking about it too much, we just need to go out and do it”…