Fighting Fire With Fire

July 10th, 2013

Those who don’t think the Bucs play in a tough NFC South has either been too drunk to watch football or is an NFC East acolyte. Year in and year out the NFC East is the most overrated and grossly over-hyped division in the NFL.

You have Matty Ice and the Dixie Chicks, as loaded an offense as there is in the NFL. Then you have lethal Drew Brees, as dangerous of a gunslinger as there has been since Dan Marino. Then there is Cam Newton who, potentially, is no less than explosive with both his arm and his legs.

So how does Bucs coach Greg Schiano hope to keep the Bucs with their heads above the water in the division? You attack them the same way they will attack you, he seemed to say in a recent podcast. You go after them with your own weapons.

Dave Damshek: It seems like the way you built your defense and with Doug Marin there, it seems you are trying to shorten the games. Is that the proper approach when facing those high-powered offenses?

Greg Schiano: You know, maybe at the beginning. But our offense is pretty high-powered as well. What I am hoping for is this year, for Josh [Freeman] being in the second year in the system for his second go-around with the emergence of Doug Martin, with Vincent Jackson on the outside along with Mike Williams, we have some threats, too. So we will have some different tempos on offense occasionally, which I think will give us a chance to expose some things on our opponents’ defense. Looking forward to being able to pull that off and then slow the game down when we want to.

It’s an interesting thought and not exactly illogical, either. The Bucs are loaded with aerial talent: Jackson, Williams and potentially, Freeman. Why not use those tools to your advantage?

Of course, this doesn’t mean Schiano or the Bucs will ignore the run. If you have a road grader line and a running back like Martin, if an opponent is soft on the run, pound them till they beg for their mother.

In other words, the Bucs offense is flexible enough to attack a defense in multiple ways. At least, that would be a wise move.

36 Responses to “Fighting Fire With Fire”

  1. robert Says:

    no one talks about him, but I want to see that 6th round RB we drafted this year. It will be nice to have someone behind Martin who is versatile. can run, block and catch.

    and don’t say Blount could block. dud was like a tackling dummy standing back there who wiffed on blocks and luckily did not get the QB killed.

    Also looking forward to the TE battle. Be nice to see some guys fight for a spot as opposed to entitled winslow and OG Dallas Clark. I think one Crabtree will surprise us.

    bottom line, the offense is stacked and will be dangerous even if friggen shaun king was playing QB.

  2. Couch Fan Says:

    We have the makings of a complete and balanced team.

  3. Buc'n Junkie Says:

    This offense will live and die on Freeman. Everything else is in place. Barring catastrophic injuries we should be able to stick with and possibly dictate T.O.P. Give our opponents less opportunities and don’t let them hang close at the end. Step on their throats and don’t let up. Don’t play to the level of weaker competition. Never take another team for granted. Come out and play one season at a time. There is no denying that on paper this team should kick some serious butt this year! …woooohhhhh Man, I just gave myself goosebumbs ….I can’t friggin wait!

  4. robert Says:

    why you gotta throw jfro 6 pack in the convo?

    and this offense aint dying with jfro 6 pack

    as I said even with Orlovsky or Glennon they will be scary good. I think we’ll see the TE and over the middle routes develop a lot more this year, which will make us a lot less 2 dimensional (bombs and Martin)

  5. tampabaybucfan Says:

    We have a very good offense, however we could use some improvement at TE & with the slot reciever. Hopefully we got better at those positions last year.
    I think our defense & special teams improvement will actually make our offense better.
    How?….better field position, more posessions, more time, better/closer scores, more 3 & outs causing a more tired defensive opponent.
    After all…our offense doesn’t have to be that good if the defense is pitching a shutout!!!

  6. Celly Says:

    for the love of God. please, there is not “slot” receiver in this system. there is a 3rd receiver, but not necessarily a “slot” receiver. how many times must this one simple statement be reitterated.

    and yes, there is a difference between a “slot” receiver and a 3rd receiver.

  7. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    I like it.

    When you look into the future though. It seems like the Bucs could be entering its prime as a team when other NFC South teams will be in some stage of a rebuild. Atlanta’s offensive line is not very good but on top of that it is also old. Stephen Jackson is old as well and possibly has a year or two left, if that. Roddy White is getting up there as well (31).

    New Orleans is worse off as Brees is already 34. A quarterback is never easy to replace let alone Brees. Sproles is 30. Colston is 30. That defense has been horrendous for a little while. I this as the “cellar” team when Brees retires or tails off in play.

    The Panthers will probably be our primary contenders in the future. They need to find a replacement for Steve Smith (34). Their running backs are getting older and haven’t done much lately. Ryan Kalil, their best offensive lineman, is coming off an injury but is only 28. The rest of their O line can be suspect at times. Cam Newton. Really tough to see how he is going to end up. (Much like Freeman.) He lead his team in rushing yards last season. That is never a good thing. Running quarterbacks don’t tend to last so either he develops as a better pocket passer or he will probably always be about as good as he is right now. (Which isn’t terrible.) McNabb comes to mind. Not to mention his hissy fits when they are losing. Seems like he has a ways to go in the maturity department.

    The Bucs? Well With McCoy, Clayborn and Bowers we look to have a formidable line that is quite young. Revis is only 27. Goldson is 28. Barron is young. Banks is young. Lavonte is already a beast and very young. Foster is pretty good and young. Our offensive line is getting up there in age but most offensive lineman play well into their 30’s without much drop off and our oldest offensive lineman is Penn at 30. Davin next at 29. Nicks is 28. Zuttah is 27. Vincent Jackson is 30. Mike Williams is young. Freeman is only 25. If he keep playing the way he is then he is at least serviceable. Doug Martin is already one of the better rushers in the league and is very young.

    I think I like our chances going forward.

    (By the way, before I get attacked. This obviously is all speculation on my end. No need to crucify anybody if you disagree. Also, sorry for the book and thanks if you read it!)

  8. Couch Fan Says:

    Im not sure how anyone can disagree that the future looks bright. We need to see it on the field though before we can get excited about it. Philly also thought they had a formidable team… we shall see! It all starts in 2 weeks! Wish I could take a 2 week nap

  9. clafollett Says:

    I don’t normally post a lot but i do read every article and most every comment.

    I just want to say thanks to all who have posted to this article so far. Many articles end up devolving into mayhem. You have all been well behaved and mostly positive for this blog post. So… THANKS!

    Go BUCS!

    Carry on 🙂

  10. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    The biggest challenge this year for us is going to be how we respond when other teams starts to “figure out” our offense. The DC’s in this league are far too good to allow you to beat them the same way every week. This is what happened during our losing streak last year. I expect teams to blitz the hell out of Freeman, until he proves he can handle the pressure. I don’t think even the biggest Freeman supporter can with a straight face say that he is a quick decision maker (based off his first four seasons). That area of his game has got to improve (and I suspect, and hope, that it will) for us to be a real threat.

  11. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    ^^This. +1.

  12. Buc'n Junkie Says:

    ^^^^ agreed. transitions and audibles should be better this season. Plus coaches should be able to recognize and adapt quicker on play calls. Josh should have that playbook memorized and everyone should understand the language….. We should be able to execute and adapt quicker against what the defense is doing. At least I hope.

  13. Gus Says:

    @hawaiian great point and we will see that week one against blitzing rex

  14. Dave Says:

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again: it reminds me of the building of the Cowboys teams in the early 1990’s. Freeman, Martin, and Jackson and Williams. Aikman, Smith, Irvin, Novecek.
    I am NOT saying they are as good… A LONG WAY TO GO to prove that, but it doesn’t mean they can play that style.
    The style was pass early to Irvin and Novecek and take a couple deep shots to Harper. Get the the lead then pound Emmit the rest of the game.
    What made it all tick was the Cowboys O-Line and a defense that bent but didn’t break.
    No reason the Bucs cannot follow that example.
    IMHO the Bucs already have a defense on the verge of being better and a WR corps that is better.
    Martin has shown he is capable.

    It is all on Freeman

  15. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Hawaiian Buc Says:
    “The biggest challenge this year for us is going to be how we respond when other teams starts to “figure out” our offense. The DC’s in this league are far too good to allow you to beat them the same way every week. This is what happened during our losing streak last year. I expect teams to blitz the hell out of Freeman, until he proves he can handle the pressure.”

    I think this is a good thing for the team in the long run. Once they figure out how to overcome the challenge they’ll be able to deal with it pretty much anytime it comes up again.

  16. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Also…I don’t think the blitzing will be as successful against our starting OGs.

  17. Drew Says:

    I’m getting goose bumps all over. Bring on the season!

  18. Bobby Says:

    You can blitz all you want but you still have to get past Nicks, Joseph, Penn, Zuttah and whoever our RT is. In the meantime you have to cover V-Jax, Williams, Crabtree and Martin. If they blitz a lot we should score a lot of points.

  19. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Couch Fan Says:
    “Philly also thought they had a formidable team…”

    I agree with what you said about seeing it on the field. However this is a totally different situation than Philly.

    Philly added a bunch of FAs to an already aging team. They hadn’t been building through the draft primarily up until then. With the Bucs we used the Free Agency to plug holes we were not able to fill in the last three or so drafts.

    Philly focused on rebuilding strictly thru Free Agency. We didn’t.

  20. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Philly obviously did draft, but they drafted poorly.

  21. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Also, to handle the blitz Freeman will have to be better at the quick short passes.

  22. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    I do have some serious concerns with the play calling. Both on offense and defense. The offense finally found a formula that worked for a few weeks but was promptly figured out and shut down. The defense, well, they were just terrible against the pass, through and through. Zero adjustments. Once teams figured out we have terrible corners and will blitz like crazy anyway, it was all over.

    I expect a full off season to add some MUCH needed diversity to our play book. On both sides of the ball we became FAR too predictable in 2012.

  23. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Assuming our guards stay healthy, Freeman should definitely have better protection. That being said, it doesn’t mean that he’s going to be able to eat a sandwich in the pocket every play. Teams are going to get pressure on him at times, and he is going to be forced to make quick decisions. The other teams tend to have some pretty good defenders too.

  24. SteveK Says:


    Good post about the future from the NFC South. I think some youth from each team, that are the future:

    Saints: Vaccaro, Brees 34(Peyton Manning is 38), not sure what else?

    Panthers: Keuchly, Star, Cam Newton

    Falcons: Julio Jones- best WR talent outside of Megatron

    Bucs: LaVonte, Doug, GMC, Bowers, Clayborn

  25. WestCoastBucsFan Says:


    I think Barron will be joining those young Bucs. Along with Mike Williams. I think another person will be on that list but I am not trying to stir things up. We have nice thread going here.

    Personally, I think Julio Jones is a little over rated. Just a little. It certainly helps when you play alongside Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. I think Peyton Manning might be the exception at 38, not the rule. How many quarterbacks have played at THAT level north of 35? (A legitimate question because I seriously don’t know. Favre comes to mind. Not sure how old Kurt Warner was when he retired.)

  26. Buc'n Junkie Says:

    Just like Bra-dy this year. Will he start showing decline.

  27. Bucnjim Says:

    This is the most thought out & intelligent post I’ve seen in weeks. Remember guys whatever you opinion is we are all still hard core Bucs fans and training camp starts in TWO weeks. I’ve got my tickets & the Saints are in for a world of hurt.

  28. Illuminati Says:

    Our defense should shine this year. Assuming we go into the season with a roster full of healthy starters, our d-line and secondary should be much improved. Also, last season we faced 10 opponents with offenses ranked in the top 10 the previous season. This year, we only face six such opponents.

    But our offense has to step it up this year. Sure, we put up some good numbers offensively last year. But we only played one opponent whose defense was ranked in the top 10 the year before (and we lost that game). This year, we play five top-10 defenses.

  29. BamBamBuc Says:

    I think a lot will come down to coaching/play-call. We saw it last year with blitz killing draw plays and screens. Problem, more often than not, was o-line penalties causing big gains to become losses. If coaching can create the discipline on those two plays we will have great success against the blitz. Once we get teams on their heels looking screen and draw, we have the outside guys to hit them deep. Freeman gets time and a comfort level when defenses are on their heels. The balance is key, with discipline.

  30. Buc1987 Says:

    Here’s a horribly negative thought. What if Jackson gets injured and is out for awhile? What happens to the deep threat?

  31. Illuminati Says:


    That’s why I’m not at all happy with our 3rd receiver situation. If we lose Jackson or Williams for any length of time, our receiving corps is pretty much a one-trick pony.

  32. Piratic Says:

    @Buc1987: Thanks dude, I’m gonna have nightmares now! Having #83 on the roster COMPLETELY changed our offense, and I DON’T WANNA GO BACK!!!

  33. delson Says:

    Yo freeman aint that bad against the blitz. Think of this real quick. The offense he was in with olson was a west coast right? He had kellen winslow as his go to guy when he faced pressure. Due to bad coaching he was allowed to keep throwin winslow the ball and thus made him uncomfortable throwing to his wrs. This is why i like the release of winalow and his restrictions to remain in the pocket instead of scrambling. He had to become a pocket passer last year and proved that he is capable. Now i agree in THIS offense he needs to improve his blitz reads and also his hot routes BUT i think he will show that this year.

  34. scubog Says:

    Freeman’s decline began when Nicks went out, Meredith played hurt, Zuttah went to guard and Larsen went to center. Not an excuse, just fact or an incredible coincidence. Nice to read comments without the name-calling and juvenile retorts. Even Robert. Been a fan since 1976 and this team is poised to surprise a lot of people if the injury bug stays away. Hey Hey Tampa Bay!

  35. Tye Says:

    Even with the fastest car in the race, if the driver is insufficient then the outcome is inevitable… Their will be a car wreck… The question is how bad will it be!

  36. Fritz50 Says:

    “Our defense should shine this year.”

    One would hope so, but I fear the possibility of an overly extended period of time for the Defense to gel, as a unit. Don’t think it’s a high probability. but have to concede it’s possible.