System Issues

December 28th, 2015


Joe’s not going to act like a fool and start blubbering about how the Cover-2/Tampa-2 philosophy is dead. It’s not. (See Panthers)

However, the Lovie Smith/Rod Marinelli brand is having serious issues. The data is overwhelming.

It’s worth noting that during Marinelli’s three-year tenure as Detroit Lions head coach, his defenses ranked last every year in completion percentage by opposing quarterbacks. Joe finds this to be a legitimate stat, as it paints a real picture. Yes, in 2006, 2007 and 2008, respectively, those Lions defenses allowed 66.3 percent, 70.1 percent and 68.4 percent of passes to be completed.

And then Lovie hired his good friend Marinelli to guide the Bears defense.

In 2014, the Buccaneers were the most giving team in the NFL to quarterbacks. Opposing gunslingers completed 68.7 percent of passes. This year, Tampa Bay is right back in the NFL cellar, allowing a whopping 69.5 percent. And many of those completions were by lame QBs.

None of this is a coincidence. If you think it is, then just stop reading now and go get ready for Monday Night Raw.

Joe is convinced Lovie’s defensive issues primarily arise from stubbornness, an unwillingness to make significant adjustments. And then there’s also that nasty talent evaluation issue when it comes to cornerbacks. Remember Tim “Loaf” Jennings? He was hired to start at cornerback this year because he was a great fit for Lovie’s system, you know, the one that isn’t working.

Remember all those Lovie/Marinelli defensive players signed last spring and summer? Henry Melton, Bruce Carter, Sterling Moore, Chris Conte and Jennings. They were supposed to come here and join Major Wright and Mike Jenkins in pushing the Bucs’ pass defense over the hump.

Darrelle Revis? Nah, no need for a Hall of Fame cornerback in his prime. Charles Tillman of the Panthers? Why pursue him when you can Jennings?

Bback to the Bucs giving quarterbacks a free ride for the second consecutive season, Joe understands that Lovie’s defense is designed to give up plenty of underneath throws and bend but not break. (In 2004 and 2005, Father Dungy’s powerful Colts teams were last in the NFL in completion percentage allowed, too.)  However, that’s just not working well enough and the effective adjustments aren’t coming from Lovie.

Joe can smell the fix attempt already: Try for the third consecutive season to land a defensive end in free agency. Sign a couple of cornerbacks in free agency, including re-signing Sterling Moore. And look for an impact rookie at either one of those positions.

That’s all very nice, but Joe thinks the real fix lies in Lovie altering his approach in the absence of defense talent he had with the Bears. That’s the essence of coaching — getting the most out of what you have.

37 Responses to “System Issues”

  1. thunderchunkyPA Says:

    Well said Joe, I am afraid they will try and throw money at the problem, and not fix the problem. Like you said before good coaches adjust to the talent they have. Lovie’s big issue is he thinks his system is flawless, just like the head man in Philly. And in both cases, they are dead wrong.

  2. astrobuc Says:

    I really want Lovie here for continuity, but I would like to see a new proven D coordinator come in . A defensive Dirk Koetter. Obviously easier said than done.

  3. Tampa Tony Says:

    When the majority of catches are uncontested and receivers get a free release off the line of scrimmage when it’s a 3rd and short and nothing changes tats all the coaches fault

  4. SoftastissueMcCoy93 Says:

    We blitz and can’t cover. We play zone and get no pressure. It’s a coaching, talent, and lack of smart players problems. Lovie gambled on the wrong players and the defense looks like sh/t. Lovie needs to start holding players accountable. Players need to hold players accountable. Players need to hold themselves accountable.

    Finally, is it a coincidence that the defense has suffered without Alexander and the offense has regressed without Jackson? It’s clearly a talent problem to me. Also, the offense has lost its flow since ASJ came back from injury.

  5. bucrightoff Says:

    thunderchunkyPA Says:
    December 28th, 2015 at 9:07 am
    Well said Joe, I am afraid they will try and throw money at the problem, and not fix the problem. Like you said before good coaches adjust to the talent they have. Lovie’s big issue is he thinks his system is flawless, just like the head man in Philly. And in both cases, they are dead wrong.

    That’s actually a very interesting comparison. Like Lovie, Chip sent a lot of talent packing assuming his scheme could work with “his guys”. Yet like Lovie, most of “his guys” have been abject failures while many of those sent packing strongly outplayed their replacements while playing elsewhere. A pride before the fall situation.

    Revis is going to the playoffs again though, no doubt he’s glad he escaped this hell franchise. Sure couldn’t use him or anything. But system….

  6. Cover deuce Says:

    If you’re waiting on him to change, then sister you’ll be waiting a while.

  7. Bama Rich Says:

    I agree with astrobuc. We need some new ideas on defense. Teams playing against the Tampa 2 can play without practicing because is so predictable. Remember what Koetter did to the Tampa 2 as the OC for Atlanta? Please please please change the defense. Even I know where the holes are!!!!!!!

  8. Waterboy Says:

    Interesting stats which teams are in the top 5 for completion % allowed and what defensive system do they run?

  9. SoftastissueMcCoy93 Says:

    We don’t play the 2 every down. There was a lot of ineffective blitzes the past few weeks. Verner has been totally useless blitzing off the edge. Zone schemes only work when you have some horses up front. Opposing teams’ pockets are too clean. The Ram mostly kicked our butts with their front four.

  10. Luther Says:

    One of the best articles written this season Joe. I have always thought that Barber made the difference in the cover 2 because he gambled a lot in the underneath coverage. We don’t have pressure and we don’t have the heady type of corners to peal off and disrupt the throwing lanes. Without that, this defense sucks.

  11. Waterboy Says:

    Found it, it’s interesting that Carolina is currently 14-1 and 8th from the bottom in common completion % allowed by their defense. Meanwhile Chip Kelly’s defense is in the top 5. Another meaningless stat.

  12. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    Headhunters like John Lynch are no longer allowed. How many times to he jar the ball free like a heat-seeking missile? That’s another problem with this system.

  13. SoftastissueMcCoy93 Says:

    @ Luther agreed,

    This scheme works best when player can adjust on the fly, how often did we see Brooks calling audibles at the line? All of the time. That kind of knowledge comes from film study, playing together, and knowing how offenses attack this scheme. It’s all about baiting and switching or windowing coverage. With that being said, you still have to get after the QB with the d-line to be most effective.

  14. ChessMaster Says:

    Belicheat chose to kick and lost and we are complaining about bad coaching?

  15. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    It just takes time to learn this hyper complex system, next years 6-10 squad will be on the verge

  16. Tampa Tony Says:

    Chessmaster- he has one big blunder a season. Lovie has coaching blunders every drive his team is on the field

  17. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    There is no comparison of lovie and belichek not even close

  18. Waterboy Says:

    My correction Carolina is not 8th from the bottom in completion % allowed this season. The site that I looked at defaulted to 2014 so I was looking at last year’s stats for Carolina and Philly.

  19. Strider.... Sec 146 Says:

    It starts up front GMC NEEDS help we f ing suck at pass rush we barely get any pressure on opposing QB!!!!!! Sign a big DE and draft a couple more throw in a CB move banks to safety orrrrr f the defense just draft some hogs and WR for Jaboo

  20. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    “Tampa Tony Says:
    December 28th, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Chessmaster- he has one big blunder a season. Lovie has coaching blunders every drive his team is on the field”

    There’s even speculation he did it on purpose to screw the Steelers. Crazy like a fox.

  21. bucrightoff Says:

    ChessMaster Says:
    December 28th, 2015 at 9:52 am
    Belicheat chose to kick and lost and we are complaining about bad coaching?

  22. Spirit of '76 Says:

    This happens most of the time in the NFL. Established (not necessarily effective) coaches bring their systems with them to implement regardless of personnel. Why you ask? It’s easier for them to call plays than it is for them to learn their personnel, and force them to be innovative. They are comfortable with “their ” system. If it doesn’t work, they blame it on the GM, their position coaches or the players. “Their” system is proven, they defend.

    The fix here is easy but at a risk. I think the Glazers and GM sit down with Lovie and staff when the season ends. They review what worked and what didn’t. At that time they give Lovie an ultimatum. If you want to stay as the head coach past 2016, we will find you an up and coming defensive person to be the new DC. And you will not mess with that person as he will also have the title of Assistant Head Coach attached to the DC title. The GM and new DC will scout and draft personnel for the 2016 draft and you will stay out of the way.

    Progress was made on the offensive side of the ball and the special teams were not horrible. But the defense has not improved and the scheme no longer is effective. It’s time to bring in someone who can turn things around. Lovie, Rob Ryan and other retreads are just not up for the new NFL and it’s rule changes.

  23. Defense Rules Says:

    Excellent article Joe. Agree totally that the essence of coaching is ‘getting the most out of what you have’.

    On the good news side, Bucs have the 10th-ranked defense in the league. And our run defense has been quite good all season (until yesterday).

    On the bad news side …

    o Defense doesn’t get enough pressure on QBs all season.
    o Defense couldn’t stop the short/intermediate pass all season.
    o Defense allowed too many 3rd down conversions, couldn’t get off the field, and wore down in too many games.
    o Defense didn’t force enough takeaways.
    o Defense got too many penalties, especially at critical times.
    o Defensive scheme has been highly predictable all season.

    In my opinion … Is it the scheme? Yes. Is it the coaching? Yes. Is it the players? Yes. Will 2016 results be much different than 2015 results? Probably not. But 2017’s results might.

  24. BrianBucs Says:

    This team will never be any better than just average or mediocre with Love Smith as head coach

  25. bculaw Says:

    What CB is a good fit in the system? Fact is that the system is designed to give up completions, small chunks of yards at a time, bending but not breaking until the D-line forces the QB into a bad mistake or the short field in the red zone narrows the open lanes. Problem is that even the bad QBs are good enough to dink and dunk a zero pressure defense to death, O-coordinators have figured out that TE’s running the vertical routes and WR running the quick slants can turn the short yardage “gift passes” into chunks of yards, and we haven’t had a D-line that could consistently apply pressure in years. The result is a defense that is susceptible to sustained drives that not only keeps the offense off the field and from finding a rhythm, but gasses the few effective, every down defenders on the field.

    This is a QB-driven league. End of story. the defenses that thrive are the ones that can make a bad QB look awful, a decent QB look bad, and keep a good QB in check. I’m having a hard time seeing how any defense that gifts completions will do that, seeing that the open, quick throws not only gain sufficient yards to keep the chains moving, but also keep the QB off the ground. When Mariota, Mallet, Cousins, Bortles, Hasselbeck, and Keenum put up pro-bowl type performances, you have to start questioning your scheme, don’t you?!?!?

  26. Digga Says:

    The system does not commit penalties and in every lost the Bucs had chances to get the ball back for the offense screw your stats.

  27. ChessMaster Says:

    On every drive? Really Tampa Tony? No exaggeration there?

  28. ChessMaster Says:

    @bucrightoff Your so clever! I feel so inferior now that I have been put in my place by someone with your intellectual acumen.

  29. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Yeah it’s not good enough whatsoever.

  30. bucrightoff Says:

    ChessMaster Says:
    December 28th, 2015 at 11:02 am
    @bucrightoff Your so clever! I feel so inferior now that I have been put in my place by someone with your intellectual acumen.

    Lovie Smith career playoff wins: 3
    Bill Belichick playoff wins in the year 2015: 3

    And yet you had the idiocy to compare the two and not expect it to come back on you? Belichick has earned the benefit of the doubt 1000 times over compared to Lovie. But your Lovie defense does show your aspirations are to be a total loser. Nice ambition.

  31. Brent bull/buc Says:

    Ditto joe. I’m no defensive expert but if we get lovie players this offseason and he can’t make it work I may be done with lovie. He’s supposed to be a good defensive coach. So if we’re still mediocre what’s the point. I do think we need to add talent in the draft to our defense and give lovie another chance.

  32. 813bucboi Says:

    people complain about getting the most out of the players…I think lovie has squeezed every ounce of each player on defense…the players just lack talent…we only have 4 players that can compete on a nfl level…if people can sit here and say we have good corners that can cover and de’s getting pressure then i’ll be quite..yeah lovie picked a lot of the defensive players but what other choice did he have…that just goes to show we had no talent..would you like to see d. bowers at de?..seen that for years…d.golston giving teams free 15yards every time he goes to tackle?…or would you like to pay revis 16mil a year?…he’ll improve the defense thru the draft just as he did with the offense…GO BUCS!!!!

  33. LargoBuc Says:

    Im not about to blame scheme, as I have stated before how overblown it is. I must say, Lovie does play a major role in personel. I give him credit for the offense, but his roster managment has been suspect. Tim Jennings ans Mike Jenkins starting, really? Thats bull spit. It should have been Banks and Moore all year. As a whole, Lovie is fortunate and was wise to hire Dirk Koetter. Because if his offense didnt work, he probably would be gone, considering how atrocious his defense was (is). And its not due to scheme, its due to his persone managment. I blame Lovie for everyone on the field on offese and defense, nothing more and nothing less.

  34. dave Says:

    im right with u joe. this same defense gets picked apart by backups time and time again let alone a qbs like brees or newton. without a great pass rush from the front 4 they just complete pass after pass. we have some really talented players that i feel like are being wasted sitting back in coverage. love when they actually send players like david and alexander after the qb. i can see david in a 3-4 being as effective as the von millers of the world

  35. Bronze Badger Says:

    Chris Conte has played pretty well.

  36. unbelievable Says:

    Uh, Marinelli’s defense seems to be just fine in Dallas, and seemed to help that Bears team quite a bit when he was in Chicago.

    Don’t think the issue is with Marinelli….. it’s the other guy.

  37. RachelWatson'sthong Says:

    We had Revis under contract. Lovie threw him away. A number one pick. Simple as that.