The Flaw Of The Bucs Secondary

December 13th, 2012

Short of sounding like a cranky old man without his morning caffeine waiting for a plane to take off from Tampa International for a cold business trip to the Midwest, one thing Joe misses about the new, homogenized NFL under the watch of warden commissioner Roger Goodell is how the game is going the way of seven-on-seven, summer-league flag football.

The very essence of the game, punishing physicality, Goodell is doing his best to legislate out of the sport.

If Joe — and millions of football fans — wanted to watch ballet, we’d already be at the Straz Center for Performing Arts.

One glaring thing Joe has noticed is Bucs corners let opposing wide receivers run free as an Alaskan antelope from the snap of the ball. Joe so misses the Mel Blount-style of defense that leveled receivers at the line, thus all but rendering them useless for a play.

This very topic has bubbled to the surface in a Bucs Q&A.

Q: According to the rules, a cornerback has 5 yards to disrupt the receiver’s rhythm when beginning their route. A CB also can line up 1 yard off the line of scrimmage. Why is it that the Bucs’ corners basically stand close enough to the receiver that they can know what toothpaste he uses, then at the snap of the ball, they open up their hips and let the receiver go? Every receiver gets into his pattern uninterrupted by Bucs corners. Look at the teams with high sack totals. Their corners are basically inside the receiver’s jersey up till and sometimes past the 5-yard mark. Even more annoying, the Bucs corners try to run with the receivers and keep getting torched. If they can’t keep up with the receivers by just running with them, why would they not try and disrupt them? Pass defense is a mixture of pressure up front and coverage on the backside. The guys up front have no shot at getting to the QB, when the corners are taught not to engage the receiver. You can’t play Cover/Tampa 2 if you don’t re-route/disrupt the receiver. It’s a joke when I hear how the Bucs are thin at corner, without Aqib Talib and Eric Wright. They were at their worst when the two played together (Giants game, anyone?) And to think, the Bucs told Jonathan Joseph they weren’t interested in his services. Wow.

— Sean, Cherry Hill, N.J.

A: Everything depends on the particular coverage that’s chosen for each individual play. The corners will sometimes play tight to the line to give the impression they’re playing man but then back off into a zone. The Bucs use a lot of mixed coverages and in a lot of those cases the corner’s job is to release or let the safeties take over after a few yards. That’s done to protect against a run. I agree that the Bucs would probably help their pass rushers by playing a little more physical, but with the current group’s inexperience and lack of elite size, that may be asking too much of them right now. Something else to consider right now is the fact that the Bucs biggest objective at this point in the secondary is to keep the play in front of them. That’s how you eliminate the big plays and they have cut down on those in recent weeks.

— Woody Cummings

Look, the Bucs secondary is as wretched as wretched can be right now. Why the heck doesn’t Bill Sheridan and Ron Cooper, Bucs defensive coordinator and defensive backs coaches, respectively, try this method?

Better yet: Why the hell hasn’t this been done before now? Joe would hope Sheridan and/or Cooper are at their wits’ end trying anything to help an embattled secondary.

Why not jam the receivers at the line? Then again, the more Joe thinks of this, why in the world wasn’t this done, uh, Joe doesn’t know, three months ago rather than waiting until the team is out of the playoff hunt?

15 Responses to “The Flaw Of The Bucs Secondary”

  1. buccanay Says:

    IMO, there’s plenty of blame to go around for our pathetic pass defense, but the majority of it lays at the feet of Shiano and Dominik. Our 1st round pick although I think he’ll develop is currently a liabilty in coverage, and NONE of the current CB’s should even be on an active roster. Where’s Keith Tandy,what kind of a pick was that? Of course, some blame lies with Sheridan and Cooper but their running Shiano’s defense with Dominik’s players. Eric Wright was a bad signing, and although I do like Barron, with the NFL goin all soft and aerial, a ball-hawking safety, not a run-stopper/intimidater would carry much more value in today’s NFL. Shiano, IMO, sure likes to reference mistakes and breakdowns by players but doesnt seem to want to acknowledge his culpability and responsibilty for the disaster we have in the secondary.

  2. Meh Says:

    With as much as we blitz we need to be jamming these guys at the line. The blitz doesn’t work when the receivers are open immediately. It is way too way for the opposing QB to pass out of our blitzes right now.

  3. OB Says:

    Joe, I love it. At the beginning of this year most would say maybe six wins, now almost everyone is saying we should be in the playoffs, which is still possible, but very remote.

    The entire team is learning to play together and the strengths and weaknesses of all concerned. Not counting the games where the enhanced CBs played, these rookies, except for Payton who nobody is stopping, have kept us in the game, each and everyone, and they are still learning to play. Look at the OL, look at the LBs, look at the DL, look at the coaches. Then look at next year. This year is not over and they will do better, but next year will be kickass across the board with all the troops back and another year of experience in this system.

    If the 2002 team had this offence earlier, they would have won at least three more SBs. These troops will look very good next year, especially if they cut their hair so we can see their names. They might get more commercials also, but these kids are learning and I just hope Rhonde can do another year, he needs another ring to harpoon his old teammates.

    Remember this year is not over, but next is comming.

  4. Ramdog Says:

    Couldn’t agree more with this article. Joseph I liked a lot and thought they should’ve gone after him. In the off-season the corner I like is Rogers-Cromate’ – or Shields from Green Bay, maybe Grimes but my guess is he wants the bank and seems to have durability/attitude issues.

    Of course they should and probably will cut Wright (which he deserves). Next they should draft a BIG corner or two (Johnthan Bank from Mississippi State seems like a good candidate). Finally, you may want to get rid of either Sheridan or Cooper there is really no excuse for being #32 in the League in pass defense. Sheridan had problems in NY and was fired after only a year as the defensive coordinator.

  5. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    Please. Whatever. Remember what happened when Talib, a better CB than anyone we have on the active roster at the moment, tried to jam Hakeem Nicks over and over again in the game against the Giants? Yeah, I remember it vividly. Nicks beat Talib again and again like a red-headed stepchild. And now you want much lesser CB’s to try jamming opposing WR’s and get burned for deep passes all day long? Seriously?

    You want to know what would happen? This is what Schiano and Sheridan already know: those CB’s would get roasted like a bunch of chestnuts over an open fire. That’s what.

    This is why they stopped consistently trying to jam opposing WR’s earlier in the season. They know that this group of CB’s is most effective if they can just try to keep everything in front of them. That’s why the average YPC has gone down since the Giants & Saints games and why they are not getting burned deep very much now. Yes, they end up staying on the field longer because more short passes are completed and it takes longer to complete a drive, but that’s better than getting torched for long plays and quick scores like was happening earlier on. With a weak group like this you have to pick your poison and hope for the best.

  6. Ramdog Says:

    @Buccanay – good point about Barron he is actually our worst cover DB by far according to Profootball Focus and one of the worst cover safeties in the league. Hopefully, he will improve next year in that department. I can’t blame Dominik for trading down because he essentially traded Claiborne for Barron, Lavonte David (an absolute stud at Linebacker) and the Dougernaut or Muscle Hamster. All in all this draft was good if Barron can learn coverage his pick wouldn’t have been in vain.

    I wonder how much is on him and how much is coaching ??? Our offensive line coach has turned lineman from off the street into a decent group. Our defensive back coach has taught our players essentially how to get worse in Coverage it seems.

  7. Hunter Says:

    Cummings is right on point. I have a “source” from Bucs. Asked him this same question 5 weeks ago. He said Cooper wants to do this, but Sheridan doesn’t because he feels that they’re too inexperienced..

  8. TONY850 Says:

    Not only do our corners lack experience at corner but they lack the size to consistently jam and lack the speed to recover after making such a move.

    I know our secondary is abysmal but hell if they eek out 2 win out of 3 to finish I’ll be happy happy happy for whats to come in the following years.

    But as a team offense has to be more consistent in making long drives happen, they are better equipped than what they are producing. Giving other teams too many opportunities to throw and make big plays against the Bucs.

  9. teacherman777 Says:

    Why do you guys think SEATTLE’s secondary is WHOOPING a$$!!!???

    Their corners are PHYSICAL AND BIG. They F with diva-receivers.

    They bump them all day and get in their heads.

    Its the future of how corners will play.


    Cuz most recievers are SOFT.

  10. Pete 422 Says:

    I think its quite simple. The Buccaneers lack the size and talent at the CB position. I agree with Ramdog that Rogers-Cromate would be a great FA signing. I didn’t know Sam Shields was going to be a FA, but that would be great also (he is from Sarasota). I’d actually like to see the Buccaneers draft a stud DT to go with McCoy if one is available. I saw the draft is loaded with D linemen (a few corners).

  11. Miguel El Magnifico Says:

    ” good point about Barron he is actually our worst cover DB by far according to Profootball Focus and one of the worst cover safeties in the league.”

    After the draft I quoted Yahoo sports report that said Barron would be good supporting the run but would suffer in pass coverage.

    Yahoo sports and I were attacked unmercifully. They were 100% on the money.

  12. Buc'It Says:

    I find it hilarious how everytime the issue of pass defens or anmtter comes up, “the uneducated” ar quick to throw ominik’s name out there. PAY ATTENTION CLASS: Dominik does not sign ‘his’ players nor is it his job to solely by himself scout them. Thats why you have a scouting department for college and upon the end of the season the GM AND HC sit down together along with other position coaches and assess the FA talent pool. Dominik is merely a check cutter..Barely more and nothing less..

    Please educate yourselves before angirly venting. To think that Dominik signs whoever and then hands them over to the HC is flat out stupid.

    Think what you want but for a team to have 2 OG’s worth $48 million, T worth $40 million, a DT making $10mil/yr, a QB coming up for a raise, a $55 million reciever and a CB paid nicely with $37 million (to name a few)….

    AND we are still $20 million below the cap! We have a top 3 GM i the league. Just be a fan and enjoy the game, the ups and downs. We got a QB with a 91.1QBRand still aren’t satisfied..

  13. Patrick Says:

    I’d like to thank our worthless secondary for RUINING our season for us and wasting a great effort by our offense this year!

    Our whole secondary needs to be jettisoned this offseason (Biggers, Lewis, Wright)……keep Barber only. Draft a CB in the 1st round, draft another in either the 2nd or 3rd, and sign 1 or 2 in free agency.

  14. Have A Nice Day Says:

    Might as well sack Barber. He is a part of the very pass defense that is allowing record yardage to opposing QBs.

    Honestly… Does everyone believe it is a talent issue yet the outcome has been the same regardless of who is on the field?


    Is that clear enough?

  15. PRBucFan Says:

    They gave up even more big plays to defenses when they pressed with corner early on in the season Ala the giants game. I pretty sure their fear is that 80% of the time if they pressed at the line our CB’s would get beat and we be given up 80 yrd bombs all day. Maybe?