Fixing The Defense

October 8th, 2014


When Joe looked at the Bucs landscape, he figured it would be the offense that would struggle early, learning the ropes as so many people on that side of the ball were new, along with the new, untested NFL coaches on that side of the ball.

Joe never dreamed it would be the defense that needs the most work.

It seemed reasonable to expect big things out of this defense. A proven defensive mind with proven defensive assistants were taking over a unit led by one of the best tackles in the game and best outside linebackers in the game.

As it turned out, the opposite is true. The offense is playing OK. It is the defense that is a shambles. Andrew Astleford of Fox Sports Florida believes Bucs coach Lovie Smith himself may also have misjudged the rebuilding project on defense.

The numbers are bad, and they reveal a perceived strength stands far from its desired reputation. The Bucs are decent against the run by ranking 18th in the NFL (120.2 yards per game), but they’re 30th both against the pass (292 ypg) and in total defense (412.4 ypg). They’re 31st in scoring defense by allowing a terrible 31.2 points per game. …

What should be worrisome for Smith is that the Bucs lag behind his first defense with the Chicago Bears. In 2004, the Bears finished 13th in the NFL in scoring defense, 15th in passing defense, 21st in total defense and 25th in rushing defense.

That Bears’ defense was mostly average during a 5-11 season, a result that should have been expected with a new coach learning his terrain. Like then, there’s time for the Bucs’ defense to rise to the middle of the league or better this season. But the fall through the first five games hints at how the reconstruction job facing Smith here is larger than first thought.

Years ago with Raheem Morris, it was almost expected that Drew Brees and/or Matty Ice would slice up the Bucs defense. That certainly was not expected with Lovie. He has better players, and his defense is thus far worse than Morris’.

As Joe has stated previously, the remaining 11 games should not just be a referendum on Mike Glennon, but a reapplication of sorts for defensive players, to see who will fill spots on next year’s roster. If certain players don’t improve between now and the end of December, then the Bucs should wave goodbye to them.

Remember, the current Bucs general manager likes to boast that a big lesson he learned working with Bill Belicheat was that if a player isn’t cutting it, then cut ties. Mistakes in evaluation will be made. Don’t compound one mistake with another by hoping said player turns things around.

33 Responses to “Fixing The Defense”

  1. jabba Says:

    Here’s something I’ve noticed so far throughout the season:
    While Lavonte David has been an absolute beast near the line of scrimmage (despite his lack of sacks), he really seems to have regressed in his coverage skills. When I watch him covering RBs he always seems to be a step or two behind, so essentially he’s playing to tackle for a short gain- not to pick the ball or break up the pass. He allowed a receiving TD to Khiry Robinson, I think it was, last game by playing with this odd method.
    Should I be worried?

  2. Patrick in VA Says:

    I’d be interested to see where those 2004 Bears ranked in defense after week 5 as opposed to seeing where they ranked at the end of the year. I think that would show us more about where we are and where we can hope to be.

  3. dick2111 Says:

    Let’s see. A defensive line (with McCoy being the exception) that puts limited pressure on the QB and don’t protect their gaps. LBs (with David being the exception) who cover and tackle poorly. Safeties who don’t fit the scheme and have difficulty covering.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    (Pundits were right in preseason when they said this defense was going to be ‘scary’ … although I think they meant ‘scary good’)

  4. BFFL Says:

    I see steady improvement. They are still a few players away. They need a better nickel corner, weak-side safety and MLB. MJ injury or whatever it is has killed them.

  5. Upthegut Says:

    Rah = Assclown
    Lovie = Assclown part deux ?????

  6. BucsfaninChina Says:

    The injuries are just killing em. It was no secret this was not a deep team (how many years has this been an excuse?) and just a few injuries to key positions has really hampered this defense. And Dane Fletcher is turrible, just turrible.

  7. iamkingsu Says:

    I actually like what lovie is doing. The defense is actually improving week to week. I actually expect this from our pass defense considering we have all strong safeties as the last line of defense. I’m more concerned about the run defense considering what schiano did against the run.

  8. HorseForce Says:

    We all knew we weren’t perfect on the defensive side of the ball before the season but I was expecting better over the first 5 games

    Lavonte got 6/7 sacks last year. How often does he blitz in this scheme?

    We need to find another defensive end – Randy Gregory
    We need a true Mike linebacker that can cover well- move Foster to Sam, and Lansanah to backup
    We need a ball hawk at FS, how Goldson was an all-pro in San Fran I’ll never know (He needs to thank that front 7)
    and corner depth!

  9. Sapp, STFU Says:

    Isn’t Monte Kiffin still alive and looking to revitalize the Tampa 2?

  10. phil Says:

    I don’t understand why anyone is surprised with Lovie’s defense. The only thing he know is Tampa 2 which doesn’t work anymore in today’s NFL. You are not allowed to hit anyone so the Tampa 2 doesn’t work. I don’t know how anyone thought things would get better when you cut one of the top three defensive players in the league because Lovie doesn’t know how to play man defense. A coach that is so narrow minded that he says this is what we are going to do even though it doesn’t work that’s Lovie. Of course we will be the ones that have to suffer through more losing seasons.

  11. RastaMon Says:

    the 0-26 teams played better defense…actually they played excellent defense….

  12. iamkingsu Says:

    @horseforce Lasanah is a stud can’t teach football instincts. I dont know where he came from but im glad he came. Foster looked about the same as fletcher in pass coverage

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We are short about 4 starters and have very little depth…..need a DE, LB, CB, S

  14. Ike Turner Says:

    step 1 fire frazier
    step 2 get more aggressive in coverage
    step 3 someone tell fatigue is a real thing and not just some rumor…
    step 4 use timeouts!

  15. Joseph Mamma Says:

    Don’t ask player’s to do things they aren’t good at. Wasn’t Banks drafted to be mostly a man to man cover corner? It was just wishful thinking that he’ll play good with mostly zone coverages. And Foster was not drafted to be a tampa two mike, i’m guessing, and will probably struggle.

  16. billy buckaroo Says:

    Unfortunately- Most of the other teams have figured out the weakness of the defense the Bucs are trying to use. It has been around for quite a while and It is certainly not creative in todays standards. Only with select top notch players in many of the positions does it have a chance for success in todays game.
    It is too expensive to get the players you need to make it work as the cost for those players takes away from other team needs and weakens the offense situation.

    A “57 Chevy” was a strong cool car in its day but by 1968 it wasn’t going to compete with “68 Hemi Dodge Charger”
    This defense scheme reminds me of that.

  17. BucsfaninChina Says:

    @JosephMama Banks played in a press-man, zone-heavy scheme in college, where he was a terror. His main limitation is lack of speed, which is hedged by a zone scheme. Same could be said for Verner. This past Sunday, how many times did the Aints run screens and passed over the middle? The sidelines were shut down for the most part. The corners are not the problem. The Bucs frankly don’t have the personnel at linebacker and safety to effectively cover and gel in the Cover 2.

  18. Hec Says:

    Phil is the only one I’ve read so far that makes any sense!!!! The coach is a dinosaur who defensive philosophy has gone by the wayside. Got rid of a hall of fame corner in his prime! And refuses to man up and just plays a soft zone!!! Refuses to recognize the players he has are not a fit in a zone scheme the were draft to fit a man up style of defense. A “GOOD” coach adapts to his players and strengths and doesn’t force them to play in a scheme where their talents are being misused.

  19. panhandle buc Says:


    I completely agremyron lewise, goldson stinks! Ball hawk lol what a joke, that dude is worse than Sabby and amhad black in coverage. He is like that old story teller everyone has in their family “Back in my day” or “I remember when”

    I hope we address the safety position in the draft! PJ Williams is my pick Go noles!

  20. panhandle buc Says:

    I completely agree, goldson stinks!!

  21. bucrightoff Says:

    We need more holding and illegal contact penalties. Not because I’m advocating more penalties as a good thing, but because more of those penalties would suggest a more aggressive defense. Instead the Bucs have had very few of those penalties because receivers really just run free in the soft zone coverage of the secondary.

    People can talk about the pass rush being a critical element of this defense being succesful, but it would need to be borderline historic to make a difference when receivers go totally untouched deep into the secondary. Dumping Revis was an ominous warming of lots of zone, and so far it’s expectedly getting carved up, even by the likes of Derek Anderson. Adapt or die Lovie.

  22. HorseForce Says:

    I’d love to see us come out against the ravens with an aggressive mindset and mixed up play calling

    Press corners and blitzing linebackers!

  23. Louis Friend Says:

    The Schiano defense, without the stupid stunts – they should run that. At least it broke even and produced turnovers. If they had just a mediocre defense they’d be sitting at 4-1 right now. That’s just sick.

  24. HawaiianBuc Says:

    People really struggle with the concept that many teams run a Tampa 2 in the NFL, and many run it successfully. Saying it’s outdated is an incorrect, and very lazy statement. You don’t have any idea what you are talking about, but you probably heard it on the radio, so you take it as fact. Also, we do play a lot of man. However, when it’s third and long, we usually go into a zone. Guess what, so does pretty much every single team in the NFL! If it’s 3rd and 17 for example, most teams aren’t going to go man and risk a big play. Instead, they are going to keep the ball in front of them and tackle. Our problem is we haven’t been able to do that. That’s not a scheme problem, that’s an execution and/or personnel problem. Possibly even a coaching problem, although I highly doubt that.

    Of course, the same people are going to completely ignore this and continue to ignorantly call this defense outdated. Just know that to anyone with even the slightest bit of football knowledge, it’s very obvious you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about.

  25. HawaiianBuc Says:

    It’s also funny to see people flip flop. Last year, everyone complained about us blitzing too much, which we did. Now, many want us to start blitzing again???? Really? Did you forget what happened the last two years? How many games did we lose last year in the clutch because we blitzed too much? It doesn’t matter what defense you play in, if you don’t play it properly, you’re going to get torched. Changing the scheme now would be beyond stupid. But then again, this society has no patience, and truly believes that it is actually that easy to just switch schemes mid-season. SMH

  26. Buc1987 Says:

    HawaiianBuc…it’s called the Madden generation.

  27. Cobraboy Says:

    IMO, defensive coaching just sucks.

    Not at all impressed with Leslie Frazier. Not all great players become great coaches.

    Maybe it’s time to reconsider the Cover 2 as a basic D. Fact is because of rule changes and ref enforcement, the “old” Cover 2 isn’t that effective.

    No longer can you lay the wood on a player coming over the middle as in the old days. And that seemed to be how it worked: force teams to throw outside by taking away the middle with a fast MLB dropping into coverage, and a FS/SS knocking the Pelosi out of a WR trying to go over the middle. Ah, the good old days when Lynch & Smith in the deep middle meant a concussion and/or dropped balls. Both those guys would get 2-3 Personal Fouls per game in today’s kinder, gentler Politically Correct NFL.

    And no longer can you touch those delicate snowflake WR’s past 5 yards, no handsies or anything, without giving up an automatic first down.

    I don’t know the answer but the current scheme isn’t it.

  28. HawaiianBuc Says:


    First of all, every defensive scheme has the philosophy of laying the wood on players going over the middle. Really dude, think about it. Think about what you are saying before you say it. That has absolutely ZERO to do with the Tampa 2, it’s the way ALL defenses are.

    Second, by reading your description of it, you have absolutely no idea what the Tampa 2 is. FYI, the MLB covers the deep middle, not Lynch, lol. So you know, the idea behind the Tampa 2 is to keep the offense in front of you and rally to the ball. The front 4 has to create pressure before the QB can expose the holes. The secondary has landmarks they have to get to, which is what they aren’t doing. Besides, we aren’t even running a lot of the traditional Tampa 2 anyway. We are still playing man to man a lot, and we are still blitzing a lot. It’s convenient to try to think otherwise, but it’s also incorrect.

    Your explanation is EXACTLY what I was talking about though, so thank you for proving my point. Most people have absolutely no clue what they are talking about, they are just trying to repeat what they think they heard on radio or on the TV. Seriously, go read up on the Tampa 2, then watch what we are doing. It will help you tremendously. At least I hope.

  29. Grizim2222E.Buffalo Says:

    The Tampa 2 isn’t dead. Its the application of the scheme. I agree with BucsfaninChina. Could we have better corners? Yes. But the LB play (outside of LVD) isn’t good enough. I think Mason is good but isn’t a tru MLB. You need a special MLB to play this scheme. The Safety play is also a problem. Barron has talent but doesn’t at this point cover well. Wright played well in both games made good tackles. But still not great in coverage. I still wanna see how they are by the end of the season. Maybe that light will come on.

  30. HawaiianBuc Says:

    ^^^^ Yes, yes, yes, thank you. I’m glad some people get it.

  31. antwaun Says:

    Get together lovie! Prove them wrong!!

  32. Zam Says:

    A turn here or there, and they could have had a 4-1 record at this point and no one would be fretting too hard about the defense. Meanwhile Carolina leads the division with only one dominant win and could just as easily be 1-4. It’s funny how football is.

  33. antwaun Says:

    Still waiting moderation Joe?