Tampa-2 Nearly “Obsolete”

August 13th, 2012

When Monte Kiffin ran the Bucs defense, what was termed a “Cover-2” by the way the safeties played, the Bucs defense was so suffocating for so long the type of defense became known as the “Tampa-2” because no team excelled at it for as long and as well as the Bucs.

However, writing an excerpt for Cheerios-loving Peter King in his must-read “Monday Morning Quarterback” on SI.com, NFL scribe Alex Marvez notes that information he has culled from former NFL general manager Bill Polian and from longtime Bucs safety Ronde Barber, the Tampa-2 is going the way of the Dodo bird thanks to NFL rules changes geared toward player safety.

The cover-two defense as we know it could be on the road to becoming obsolete. Polian got into a fascinating exchange with Tampa Bay free safety Ronde Barber about this topic. Barber is entering his 15th NFL season playing in the acclaimed “Tampa-2,” a scheme predicated upon the strong safety disrupting receivers who are funneled toward the middle of the field by cornerbacks playing zone coverage on the outside. Many of the bone-jarring safety hits once allowed are now banned as the NFL has instituted rules to better protect pass catchers. That has Polian, whose Colts used that system from 2002 through 2011 after Tony Dungy was hired as head coach, questioning whether it can be used effectively in today’s NFL. Said Barber: “Our theory was all these guys got to the ball and intimidation was a physical act. It was, ‘Get guys to run through zones. We’ll shoot our guns and separate them from the ball.’ The rules will definitely affect it … I know we don’t play cover-two now the way we used to.”

This is sort of sad to Joe as it is an end of an era, but this is not surprising. Barber has hinted that under former defensive coordinator/head coach Raheem Morris that the Bucs were not playing a Tampa-2, but instead what Barber referred to as a “Tampa-2.2.”

Clearly the Bucs were not playing a Tampa-2 during the heinous Jim Bates Experiment.

The NFL evolves. Quickly in fact. About the only defense that has lasted through the years — decades to be accurate — has been the 44 defense which was developed by Tom Landry when he was the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants in the 1950s.

14 Responses to “Tampa-2 Nearly “Obsolete””

  1. Mike J Says:

    The cover/Tampa-2 is also predicated on getting QB pressure with the front four alone. This Tampa team has no one who can do that, let alone the two or three need to really make the scheme go.

  2. raphael Says:

    sad ..its becoming 2 hand touch football! BTW anybody playing buddy ryan “46” defense today?

  3. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    Mike J Says:
    August 13th, 2012 at 9:19 am

    The cover/Tampa-2 is also predicated on getting QB pressure with the front four alone. This Tampa team has no one who can do that, let alone the two or three need to really make the scheme go.


    They do too have players who can do that. The problem until now was bad coaching on defense (well…and on offense but that’s off topic). I suspect we’ll be treated to witnessing a huge growth in the number of sacks this year. Even before though…we had pressure. Just not enough. GMC almost always gets pressure when playing. Clayborn gets pressure. Bennett gets pressure. It just needs to all come together.

  4. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    I don’t think Cover 2 is history…I think it just has to adapt and evolve like everything else. Tacklers can still hit hard, they just have to do it within the new rules.

    And I disagree that the safety hitting hard is the basis for the cover 2…speed and man to man is. QB pressure is.

  5. raphael Says:

    why would you disagree with Rhonde ?

  6. the_buc_realist Says:

    @the dutcher journal

    how much do you have to drink to think that McSofty is always getting pressure??? i want to watch the game you watch so i can think that GMC (Games Constantly Missed) looks like a good player.

  7. Miguel Grande Says:

    GMC made a tackle on Friday although he missed a couple but that’s called disruption. You get paid 8 figures for that. Whenever they ran a stunt, it seemed like he just wasn’t buying in to that complicated teamwork stuff.

  8. Steve Says:

    Umm….There is a difference between the cover 2 and the Tampa 2. The MLB takes a deeper drop than the other LB’s in the Tampa 2. In the standard cover 2 he doesn’t take as deep a drop.

  9. Bobby Says:

    I see Michelle Grande is here….now where is Thomas?…..Hopefully he went the way of the Tampa 2 also. Certainly he has a lot in common with the Dodo bird.

  10. Pete 422 Says:

    Monte Kiffin came up with a scheme that best fit the great talent he had. That’s why it isn’t as effective anywhere else.

  11. Mike J Says:

    (Pete Dutcher), well, they have players who can potentially do that; potential means you haven’t done it yet.23 sacks last season; none in 50 throws vs. Miami.Sacks aren’t the whole story when it comes to QB pressure, but you need more than 23.
    But I hope you are correct, sir.

  12. espo Says:

    Cover 2 is anything but obsolete. Pressure on the QB is the key to any pass defense. whatever defense we run this year, I’m confident the ol Tampa 2 will be seen from time to time.

  13. espo Says:

    And I’m surprised noone felt the need to point the fact Ronde was called the Bucs’ longtime safety.

  14. GurS Says:

    Tampa 2 was a Cover 3 scheme anyway