Speed Kills

July 8th, 2014
Bucs coach Lovie Smith seems to prefer speed over bulk.

Lovie Smith seems to prefer speed over bulk.

Once upon a time in the NFL, it seemed bulk was better. The heavier a guy was often meant he was stronger, and brute force would overcome smallish guys. Speed was fine for a wide receiver or a maybe cornerback, but with linebackers and guys in the trenches, size equaled success.

So, per the research of Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, it seems the Bucs are a throwback of sorts in Lovie Smith’s first year as coach.

Or at least, the Bucs are bucking the trend in the NFC South.

Lovie isn’t so much a fan of bulk but more a fan of speed.

Speed on defense is a trademark of coach Lovie Smith, and depth chart analysis by philly.com had the Bucs with the second-lightest front seven in the NFL — the lightest, if you correctly move tackle Clinton McDonald into the starting lineup.

The Super Bowl champion Seahawks have the sixth-lightest front seven in the rankings, with the Colts and 49ers, two other playoff teams last season, also among the eight lightest.

Though the Bucs have 13 offensive linemen listed at 300 pounds or more, they have just one defensive player above 300, second-year tackle Akeem Spence (307). Compare that to the Ravens, who have three tackles over 335, and the Jets, who have three over 345.

Auman also notes how the Bucs are the lightest team in the NFC South, while it appears other NFC South foes are bulking up.

It is sort of a throwback for the Bucs. Remember when Derrick Brooks was drafted? Many NFL teams felt he would be a better safety. He was considered small for an outside linebacker. Brooks has said in subsequent interviews he basically told teams who interviewed him at the NFL Scouting Combine if they planned on him playing safety, then don’t bother drafting him.

Only time will tell if Lovie’s lightening up of the Bucs proves smart. But it sure seems that Lovie appreciates how speed kills. You can’t teach speed. Either you have it or you don’t.

14 Responses to “Speed Kills”

  1. Touch_Down_Tampa_Bay Says:

    Bruce Lee says, “Technique and speed will get the mountains flat as a valley -grasshopper Lovie”

  2. The 300's Says:

    I guess the Seahawks were a throwback last year! Any team that runs a Tampa 2 base has lighter linemen and linebackers. This isn’t a throwback. This is a Tampa 2 defense, which we got away from.

  3. OB Says:


    No disrespect to any other players, but I would rather have seven of the lighter, faster GMCs and LVDs, then any seven of the heavier, slower in the league.

    Speed kills only when used unwisely, ask any fighter pilot.

  4. Buccfan37 Says:

    This makes sense until the light speedy player gets flattened by the bulky player and is carted off the field.

  5. Fb Says:

    What’s with that sideways picture of lovie? That is twice now. I though joe might have had too many beers the first time, but this is a morning post. If that is still the case, it explains a lot

  6. Seth B Says:

    @ The 300’s

    It’s a 1-gap defense, you need penetration through those gaps. The 1-technique or Nose Tackle is the only person who really isn’t there to penetrate but yet take up the center/guard. Obviously that’s why they tilt him from time to time.

    That Pete Carroll Defense in Seattle uses a combo scheme which allows for 2-gap and 1-gap mixes on the line. That’s why they utilize bulk and speed because their executing different gap techniques across the same line.

    4-3 Tampa 2 is a 1 gap scheme
    3-4 is a 2 Gap scheme
    4-6 is sometimes 1-gap, sometimes 2-gap

    Seattle is a hybrid 2-gap/1-Gap scheme as in they may have the left side of the line 1-gapping and right side of line 2-gapping.

    Just saying seattle wasn’t throwback, they were state of the art, a new concept.

  7. Brandon Says:

    Seth B Says:
    July 8th, 2014 at 8:21 am

    4-6 is sometimes 1-gap, sometimes 2-gap

    Seattle is a hybrid 2-gap/1-Gap scheme as in they may have the left side of the line 1-gapping and right side of line 2-gapping.

    Just saying seattle wasn’t throwback, they were state of the art, a new concept.

    You’re right about the 34 and T-2, but the 46 was/isn’t a sometimes this sometimes that defense. The NT is lined up in a two gap technique, the two DTs are one gapped over the OGs outside shoulders, then the LDE is one gapped over the RTs outside shoulder. The SS and Sam LB are at or very near the LOS over there and also figure into the equation. On the weakside, the Will LB is lined up in a one gap over the LTs outside shoulder.

    BTW, NOBODY really runs the 46 today. Every once in a while, a Jeff Fisher team will line up in it, maybe even run a few plays out of it, but it is rare.

    As for the Seahawks, I would hardly call them a hybrid. They are basically a T-2 with their major differences being in the secondary where they run a ton of cover 3. Even when they had oversized Red Bryant at DE (mostly on run downs), they had him one gapping.

  8. Louis Friend Says:

    It’s all relative to the type of defense a team runs. Teams like the Ravens want big hogs in the middle to eat up space, and use the LB’s to attack up the field. Using lighter players in those systems would be ineffective. Conversely if the Bucs used chubby giants on the line instead of seeking maximum pass rushing agility, the infrequency of blitzing common in Tampa 2 style defenses would allow even the rawest QB to pick them apart.

    The trick is, you have to have a solid rotation of 7-8 linemen who all possess the ability to bring down a QB. If you only have 1-2 guys who have any real talent you’re screwed. Keeping my fingers crossed we have at least 5 guys who can do it on the roster right now.

  9. Louis Friend Says:

    BTW, I think Clayborn, McCoy, McDonald, Gholston and Johnson are the current 5. Beyond them Bowers, Sutton and Spence all have major questions marks. I doubt Spence will be around for long, frankly.

  10. Seth B Says:

    Both Ryan brothers defenses are based off the 4-6. Their dad invented the damn thing. They uses multiple looks from psyco fronts to 5 down too.

    I think your looking at all of this from the base set, defenses move. i was talking in General.

    Seattle doesn’t just run a base cover-3, they run cover-3 half field and man backside with Sherman a lot. They run 2 coverages at once all the time, 2 defensive fronts at once. Sometime its a base 4-3. they are the epitome of hybrid. Nobody in the NFL just runs cover-2, cover-3 anymore. Somethings are pattern matching, sometimes its man/zone, sometimes it’s man. Not too much base cover-3 going on out there.

    This should help

  11. Joe Says:

    What’s with that sideways picture of lovie?

    There are no sideways pictures. You must be reading Joe from an iPad or some other tablet? There are no sideways pictures, however, once in a while on an iPad a photo will appear sideways. Must be some coding thing.

    This has happened on Joe’s iPad a couple of times, even though, no, there are no sideways photos. To miss something like that, one would have to be beyond hammered.

  12. phil Says:

    Tampa 2 always requires speed over bulk.

  13. ToesOnTheLine Says:

    Speed is great as long as the defense can get teams off the field and have good rotational depth on the D line. If a team can run it down the throats of the D and sustain long drives then I fear for the success of a lighter, faster D. Lovie knows what he’s doing on that side of the football, so he and Frazier will almost assuredly have it fine tuned if not this year then next.

  14. OAR Says:

    “You can’t teach speed. Either you have it or you don’t.”
    Or you can purchase some in great downtown Plant City!