Make Plays By Not Making Plays

December 11th, 2012

Coughing up leads because of lousy pass defense each week like the Bucs have this year is simply unacceptable for an NFL team.

Bucs fans are still seething — rightly so — over how the Bucs played awful football, unacceptable football, in losing to the hapless Beagles Sunday, all but kissing away any playoff hopes.

The quarterback was bad. Some say his receivers didn’t help him out. Some suggest Schiano gave the game away. Virtually everyone agrees whatever the Bucs are doing in their fourth quarter pass defense needs to stop now and be completely overhauled for next year.

But it seems players and Schiano are on different levels on how to right the wrong(s) in very fundamental differences.

Some of the players say someone needs to “make a play.”

Schiano says, just do your job, writes Woody Cummings of the Tampa Tribune.

“It’s all fixable. It’s nothing major. We just have to make more plays at the end,” Da’Quan Bowers said.

Schiano doesn’t subscribe to that theory. He thinks the player who simply does “his job” best usually wins those battles – and he cannot emphasize that enough.

“I think when you focus on making plays, that’s exactly when you don’t make plays,” he said. “Focus on doing your job and plays come to you, the game comes to you. That’s what we believe around here.”

Here’s the thing: If one is to believe, as Bowers suggests, someone needs to make a play, it’s pretty damned clear nobody is week after week, time and again in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line.

Talk is over with. Action is required.

But if one is to side with Schiano, then that tells Joe either his mindset hasn’t sunk in on the Bucs secondary quite yet, or wholesale changes are needed on the defensive backs roster for next year up to and including defensive backs coach Ron Cooper if not defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, themselves.

Now Joe isn’t the “fire him” kind of a guy, but simply put, the inability for the Bucs to stop a cool breeze in passing situations in the fourth quarter is absolutely and totally unacceptable for any NFL team. The Bucs pass defense currently is no better than the Bucs rush defense was last year and heads rolled as a result, understandably so. Watching teams knife through the Bucs secondary — worst in the NFL — with ease each week is appalling and it never seems to be righted.

Sure Schiano and the Bucs have done a wonderful, masterful job of shutting down the run (how much of that is Bryan Cox’s coaching?) but what the hell good is it if a third round draft pick of a rookie can hang 381 yards on the secondary and march down the field like Joe Montana in his prime for the winning score?

How many times has this secondary lost the game by getting lit up like a roman candle despite the Bucs stopping the run, both with and without Aqib Talib, both with and without Eric Wright?

Barring a miracle, this pass defense of the Bucs cost this team a playoff berth. There’s no need to sugarcoat it.

These are serious, legitimate questions both players and assistant coaches need to answer to Schiano in the immediate hours after the final gun ends the season.

Look, if the Baltimore Crows, leading their division with three games left, are willing to unload their longtime offensive coordinator two weeks before Christmas for rotten production, why exactly should Sheridan and Cooper be resting peacefully at night?

25 Responses to “Make Plays By Not Making Plays”

  1. Meh Says:

    You can’t blame Cooper. No coach could work with these corners. There just isn’t any talent in our cornerback group. None. It needs to be completely overhauled. Is Sheridan’s scheme helping? No. But no scheme is going to work when EVERY receiver is wide open after 3 steps EVERY play.

  2. tampabaybucfan Says:

    Making a play requires talent. We just don’t have the talent at some key positions. There is a reason why they are undrafted free agents. Once in a while you find a jewel…but even then, it takes a year or two working as a backup. Leonard Johnson has that capabability…but as a backup…not starter. Gorrer, I don’t think even as a backup.
    We have talent at WR & we make plays…..Lavonte David has great talent & makes plays constantly.
    We can fix this.

  3. bucfanjeff Says:

    Thank you for this article Joe. Long overdue.

    I feel if we’re going to point fingers for “losses”, then this is where it starts right here – pass defense.

  4. Joe Says:


    Thanks. There really are no other fingers to point. The dreadful, league-worst secondary play has been this team’s Achilles heel and cost the team a postseason berth.

  5. CC Says:

    We have the weakest cover corners in the NFL. Not much we can do this year. Better get fixed next year. Opposing receivers are constantly wide open. If the d line doesnt get pressure, which is impossible to do every play. There isnt a qb in the league that won’t torch us.

  6. Justin Says:

    The reaction of Ronde Barber after the game in his interview clearly tells me that our DBs are making unacceptable mistakes. He is sick and tired of guys blowing assignments and allowing big plays.

  7. flmike Says:

    Geez, we’re still dealing with almost 10 years of incredibly lousy drafting and talent evaluation. Last season’s draft was the most productive we have seen in a very long time, if you take the approach that is really the first year of a rebuild, we are ahead of the curve. Do our DBs suck? Yes. We will address this in FA and the draft? I would assume so, if not, then the heads should roll, but really, did anyone think we were actually going to the playoffs this year, if so, you were delusional. Even with the great mid-season play, I knew that we were a long shot, again inconsistant play is the earmark of new systems, but what we did see is a glimpse of what this offense will deliver, the defense is well on it’s way to being a top unit, but until the backend is fixed we will continue to play this way, and that cannot be fixed until after the season. Calm down, chill out and just enjoy the rest of the 2012 season. It’s just a game…

  8. Joe Says:

    The reaction of Ronde Barber after the game in his interview clearly tells me that our DBs are making unacceptable mistakes.

    He was pretty PO’ed, wasn’t he?

  9. Meh Says:

    But the finger needs to point to Dom. It is his responsibility to get us talent, and we have none in the secondary.

  10. flmike Says:

    I assume there was some sort of prioritizing of needs last off season and again just a guess, they probably thought between Wright and Talib that the backend was covered, things happen and it is what it is…

  11. dcbucsfan Says:

    This is the price we pay for dumping Talib! I know he had his issues but we would have not been in this position with him.

  12. Macabee Says:

    This is a next year issue. The Bucs knew when they traded Talib that it was a possible short-term loss, but a sure long-term gain. As for as the rest of the secondary, no coach in the world can get blood from a turnip. This is a case of muddling through until next year! I’m happy with the Bucs and how they look going into next season. The absolute worst thing that can happen is that we improve draft position!

  13. Raphael Says:

    Baffling to me how the players and coach are not on the same page at this point ????? Which is it ? Making plays or doing your job? They all should be singing the same tune at this point…smh

  14. Yossarian Says:

    It’s not just the CBs. Barron was terrible in helping out on the last drive. I know it is his job to keep the WR out of the end zone, but he was much too slow to react on the play that set up the TD. He has been slow to react for much of the year. It does not matter how hard a hitter he is. If he can’t close the gap in the zone, or if he can’t cover a TE, he is not going to make the secondary better.

  15. chipbuc Says:

    Cooper cant make chicken salad out of chicken do do.Wait till next year when he has some players to work with,then you will know how good a coach he is.

  16. BucFan20 Says:

    I knew this would come. Kiffin is on the market. All the losses are not on the secondary nor defense. How about an Offense that can’t score from the 1 yard line? Or a kicker who misses a field goal? Or Offense that can only get in field goal range. I think to many field goals cost you games too. The secondary cost us the playoffs? I don’t think so. The defense got caught with their pants down on the last play Sunday. Listen to the radio broadcast. Brooks was in the booth with Gene and Dave. Saw it was comming even before the snap. Knew they were going to roll and pass. Defense went for the run. David calls the defense. Had they seen it LJ would have been there and not by himself either. Brooks also caught Barber screw up earlier in the drive and let a receiver catch a pass.

    There is a line coach. The front four has had no pressure on QB’s this season. That adds pressure on the secondary. Their is no depth and has been none for a long time. Barber was moved to safety. He and Barron have screwed up many times. Barron has vanished except for the run game. Alot of time in games they are on the field forever. To blame the DC is stupid. Injuries have caused problems, no depth. Go talk to your GM. While your at it tell all players they are no longer allowed to get injured. Besides of which there is no saying we win the rest of our games at this point is there?? Have we played them? And we have Mr. Accurate Freeman also. Great under pressure. Not!!

  17. Chiefbucsfan Says:

    flMike, a team should never enter the season looking to just improve. They should enter the season with the thought process of getting into the playoffs and winning a Super Bowl. Otherwise, why even bother playing the season? We as Bucs fans should expect the same thing. This team has not won a playoff game in 10 years, and hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2007 season. We as fans should expect more, and the players should too. The mindset of “we imporved as team” is unacceptable in my opinion, and breeds a losing mindset.

  18. Legarrettes Blunt Says:

    I am not a fan that runs around screaming for people to get fired, but I agree Sheridan must go. I also agree with what was said earlier. Dont fire Cooper because no coach could do anything with our DBs. But Sheridan has made too many of the same mistakes that have cost us critical games. Is Bill Sheridan really the best we can do? really?

  19. KT Says:

    Yes!!! Joe speak on it, no more sugar coating. There is blame all around starting up top with the decision to let Talib go when we did. Then not finding any veteran to replace him. Then on to the coaching staff repeatedly playing conservative football when you don’t have the pieces in place to make a defensive stop. To the defensive coordinator for leaving helpless db’s on islands to be destroyed week after week with terrible blitz calls and alignments. I subscribe to the wholesale changes theory, you can NOT expect people to pay there money to see the likes of Lewis and Biggers and Gorrer be torched week after week. It is unacceptable, inexcusable and irresponsible all the way from Dominik on down to Sheridan and it needs to be addressed and fixed. How can Schiano ever believe in putting a game in the defense’s feeble hands is beyond comprehension.

  20. Ramdog Says:

    The BUCS have lost 4 leads in the fourth. Two of these leads were double digit (Giants and Eagles). Two were closer Falcons, Redskins. According to Advanced NFL stats a team leading by 7 points with 10 minutes left wins 90% of the time. So basically 90% of the time if you are leading by a touchdown in the fourth you will win. That is one score. The BUCS lost 2 of those games where they were leading by not 7 points but 10 or more. The falcons game we were winning by 6 with 4:22 left statistically the BUCS have above an 80% chance of winning. The Washington game was the BUCS should’ve lost but still most teams win that one 70% of the time. So of the 4 games we lost 2 we had a 90% chance of winning 1 we had an 80% chance of winning and 1 a 70% chance of winning.

    So with those stats in mind we should have at least 2 maybe as many as 4 more games. That gives us from 8 to 10 wins now. I don’t think this is a Schiano or Freeman problem more of a defense/defensive scheme problem. Most likely I would say from what I can tell of Schiano’s personality and intolerance for mistakes that heads will roll and changes will occur in the off-season. Either new D Coordinator/ Defensive Back Coach or both, definitely more talent on the defensive side of the ball. I know this frustrates us but can you imagine what it is doing to an obsessive person like Schiano. He definitely knows these stats and it is intolerable to him that we loose even one game we shouldn’t.

    I mean think about Blount couldn’t get in the end zone from the 1 yard line 4 times and fumbled in Oakland and he has seen the field how often. The only reason he hasn’t done anything now is he can’t. Who could he get as a D Coordinator/ DB Coach are there any good corners walking around the street he could pick up. No. He is stuck with what he has. I wouldn’t be shocked if Butch Davis became the D Coordinator he has quite a pedigree you know and is an excellent coach but if his contract situation prohibits someone else could come in. Who knows but regardless heads will roll.

  21. SacBucs Says:

    Joe your taste in women is incredible! You hit it out the park on this one. The Bucs fans are on target. You can pass the blame around like a forty ounce a brew. Since the playoffs .are in the wind watch coach put LGB in the Game.

    Activate Michael Smith to punt return
    Put Rosce in the slot. He’s going to do all the things us fans have been requesting all year. Or not because it might show how much of dictator Schiano is Fans. If our request are answered for the last 3 games and they work what does that say about coaching.

    Means: Us Fans can run the Bucs better then these f-ing coaches & GM’s!!!

  22. flmike Says:

    If you had any expectation of the playoffs this season you were delusional, you had a team utterly and completely quit on its coach last season, you had a defensive line & LBs that couldn’t stop a speeding girl scout on her big wheel, you had DBs who couldn’t cover my grandmother, you had a one dimensional running back, one receiver and a QB who’s confidence was shot, and with a new coaching staff and two new schemes, (granted we had a good draft) and off of this you expected to go to the Super Bowl, no wonder you’re all disappointed. Reality is a bitch that slaps hard…

  23. Miguel El Magnifico Says:

    I think Joe nailed it when he said Bryan Cox is the shining star on this team.

    This is NOT the 1st year of this rebuild, it’s the 4th year. The reasons they’re not in the playoffs borders on incompetence.

  24. flmike Says:

    @Miguel El Gordo, how can you even consider the Morris era as part of any kind of rebuild, the franchise literally threw away 3 years, New coaches, New schemes, New players, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck. It’s probably a duck.

  25. Andrew Says:

    Joe your spot on. absolutely great article.