Put The Blame In The Right Place

November 29th, 2017


Let’s not pin this all on little Ryan Smith.

It was Smith’s misfortune to be matched up often against Julio Jones Sunday in Atlanta, where one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers torched the Bucs all afternoon.

Why Tampa Bay didn’t assign Brent Grimes to shadow Jones remains a mystery, but the truth is that even a cornerback as skilled and mentally tough as Grimes would have struggled to keep up with the Joneses.

Yes, we’re talking about the pass rush.


Tampa Bay’s defensive woes start with a lack of pressure up front, so let’s not pretend this defense can be fixed by adding another corner or safety.

The Bucs desperately need nasty, talented defensive linemen who spend the offseason thinking about how to put Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton on the ground. You need proof?

The Jaguars lead the NFL in scoring defense and total defense. That’s not fake news, that’s a fact. They also lead the league with 41 sacks.

That’s no coincidence.

The key stat in determining the efficiency of your pass defense is how many yards you allow per pass attempt. Tampa Bay opponents average 8.1 yards, the second-most in the NFL next to Indianapolis at 8.2. The Bucs also rank next-to-last to the Colts by allowing 43 completions of at least 20 yards. And as Buc fans know all too well, Tampa Bay’s 15 sacks rank dead last.

Extra Drive Every Week

Again, no coincidence.

“Yeah, I can say we’ve got to get more pressure on the quarterback,” Dirk Koetter said on the day after Ryan and Jones played pitch and catch. “Well, we blitzed 22 (times) yesterday with either five or six rushers. When we brought six, we always had them out-numbered by one, and he got the ball out of his hands.”

When the Buc defense was feared, Tampa Bay relied on a four-man rush to make quarterbacks uncomfortable. Monte Kiffin didn’t have to commit additional resources, allowing the back-7 to spread out and cover more ground.

That’s not the case for beleaguered Mike Smith.

Think of it this way: the defenses of the Bucs and Vikings have each faced an average of 36 passes per game. Blessed with a solid pass rush, Minnesota is yielding an average of 70 less passing yards per game compared to Tampa Bay.

That’s the equivalent of one less long drive every Sunday.

Even an outstanding secondary can’t overcome a lousy pass rush.

Hunting Party

The 1988 Chiefs started Albert Lewis and Kevin Ross at corner and Deron Cherry and Lloyd Burruss at safety. Lewis and Cherry both made the Pro Bowl that year while Ross and Burruss were considered well above average.

Kansas City finished 4-11-1. The culprit? Lousy pass rush.

Sacks are drive-killers, or at least they should be. At this point in a lost season, Buc fans would take an uptick in quarterback pressures. If you can’t put Brett Hundley on the turf at Lambeau Field, at least make the guy sweat.

The draft is five months away and Tampa Bay’s priorities are clear.

It’s time to organize a hunting party.

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also see Ira every football Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on FOX-13, Scott Smith’s Tailgate Sunday.

28 Responses to “Put The Blame In The Right Place”

  1. unbelievable Says:

    You’re right- don’t blame Ryan Smith.

    Blame Mike Smith.

    And Licht.

  2. Tony from Los Angeles Says:

    When building a team you always look at what you have to do to beat your division opponents. that’s six games a year.

    Stop Cam.
    Stop Julio.
    Get a 4 man rush onto Brees.

    I give the Bucs some credit for having a good LB core which is essential when spying Cam and taking away his running game. but barely.

    The Bucs have no one to cover Julio. Not a single man on that roster can do it. (FAIL)

    The Bucs have no pass rush to get to the most accurate QB in NFL history (FAIL)

    That’s everything you need to know about the Bucs right there

  3. Kobe Faker Says:

    “I was peeking thru the front window of Hooters and I saw…

    Ira Kaufman holding a huge mirror in front of Jon Gruden”

    Kobe Faker

  4. DB55 Says:

    The Bucs desperately need nasty, talented defensive linemen who spend the offseason thinking about how to put Drew Brees, on the ground.
    You don’t really mean that bc the guy that you constantly play pocket pool with literally spends the offseason hanging out, working out and being besties with Brees. Is this a joke?

    The TB media talk a good game (kind of but not really) but you despise everything it takes to build a winning team. Weren’t you the one who publicly solicited for fines and suspensions for Evans and Winston?

    I’m triggered! I really just don’t get the TB media. Oh we need a bad ass until they run a stop sign in a parking lot somewhere and then it’s oh we can’t have that thug up in here bc “our reputation will suffer”. What a joke!

    I just can’t with you people. I can’t wait for Jameis to leave TB so you people can live as the bottom dwellers that you so deserve to be.

    In the past 8 years the problem has been everyone and everything EXCEPT for the 100million dollar ice cream man and now your asking for a “nasty defensive lineman”? Child please! go kiss the baby!

  5. Lamarcus Says:

    I’m blaming WHOEVER decided to build a “Nfl Defense” around a soft, babysitting type guy in gmc. Who get what u build…. a soft defense. Trust me u build this thing around kwon and kwon like players and poof u defense is fixed and u can develop ur 1st round qb correctly

  6. unbelievable Says:

    The only problem with your “theory” is that no one build a defense around #93.

    We drafted a whopping 2 DEs in the last 6 years…

    And let the only good one walk away for no good reason…

    You consider that building around someone?

  7. Bucsfanman Says:

    We need nasty AND TALENTED! All we have is one “talented” DT. Our only “nasty” is a fringe player at best, who happens to be our best DE.
    There’s no disguising it, we have extremely little talent on the defensive line and it didn’t just happen THIS year. It’s been an ongoing problem since the Earth cooled.
    How come we can’t get this right?! It’s insanity!

  8. stu Says:

    why is the Tampa Bay media not asking why Grimes was not covering Julio Jones?

  9. DB55 Says:


    Apparently they did and Smith’s response according to Joe was:

    Mike Smith said putting Brent Grimes on Julio Jones is an easy theory if you are playing man defense and you know where Julio Jones will line up.

    So I’m guessing they didn’t know where he’d line up. I’m rolling my eyes so hard that I’m staring at my brain.

  10. Bucsfanman Says:

    DB, everybody knows you don’t have a brain!!!

  11. DB55 Says:

    Touché lol

    You must have me mistaken. I’m DB55 not the afternoon disc jockey on 620.

  12. Bucsfanman Says:

    620’s really fallen off. I can’t even listen to it anymore. I don’t think the “guy” you speak of is in the best of health.

  13. Mike Johnson Says:

    Put the blamed just where we’ve placed it in the past. The head Coach. He is the captain of the sinking Buc Ship right? HE’s the one who wanted his road dog as the Defensive Coordinator in the press box. You fickle Buc fans blamed Schiano, Raheem and Lovie Dovie. So blame the annoited one..Koetter also. He’s no Different Ira. And Just..tus..for all!!!

  14. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Build from the trenches…our draft…DE…DE…DE…DE…DE A DT can be substituted for one of those DE’s if he’s really good and an OL could be mixed in from the second pick back. Our first pick must be a stud DE!!!!

  15. BrianBucs Says:

    It’s not Mike Smith’s fault that he has no pass rushers to work with

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    And if Licht did draft all DEs StPete, everyone would be screaming because (1) Brent Grimes retired and we have no outside corners; (2) our OLine still can’t run-block; and (3) our DC and OC still don’t know how to compensate for the glaring lack of talent. Jason Licht will get skewered next year no matter what he does. This is Bucsland … Fans & media national pastime is reveling in the misery that is the Bucs year after year.

  17. Defense Rules Says:

    And ‘unbelievable’ why fire Mike Smith? Show me a DC who can get acceptable results from no DLine and a marginal secondary and I’d say pay the guy whatever he’s asking because he’s a true magician.

  18. Crazed Fan Says:

    Zone defense gives me diarrhea!!!

  19. unbelievable Says:

    @Defense- I didn’t say fire him, I said blame him. No reason to leave Julio in single coverage as much as he was, especially if your d-line sucks!

    I think our secondary would actually be fine if we had a real pass rush.

    Look I honestly don’t want a full regime change again. But I would most definitely like to bring in a real offensive coordinator and a real QB coach. As for Mike Smith as DC- I’m a bit torn. It’s not his fault that we were counting on 2 DEs coming off injuries, but at the same time, Mike Smith also hasn’t had a stellar defense since he was in Jacksonville. That was a long time ago, and the game has changed greatly since then.

    Maybe our defensive roster really just sucks and we need about 6-7 new starters? I really don’t know, but whatever they are doing isn’t working.

  20. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    Grimes is a problem that to me is separate from the trenches. I certainly take your point though. If we concentrate on the lines another area of need may be neglected. I simply think if we truly solved our line problems everything else would fall into place.

    E.G. Grimes is a separate issue from our trenches. If we value him…I certainly do…then freaking pay the man. I’ll take the chance on him holding up for two more years he’s a FREAK athletically. And so take care of Brent and we can build in the trenches.

    Our DB’s would look a lot better if our DL could rush the passer. Our Lb’s are already decent…a giant talented DL and our back end looks good.

    Same on offense. Build an OL with at least one more Marpet level monster…then if we get an even decent RB he can run behind a stud line…time for Jameis to through…take care of both lines and the rest of the team really looks a lot better.

    I’ve been reading you and Lord C and I agree. Time to repair our trenches. We have no run game and no pass rush…where does all of that start?

  21. GhostofSchiano Says:

    At the start of 2017 you had Campbell and Poe as free agents. A stud DT and DE. We signed neither. We did sign Jakcosn and Baker who have done zero this year.

    Fire Jason Gump, our asinine GM. Don’t get me started on the aguyao selection….or is that just the cherry on top?

  22. derrickbrooksforGM Says:

    Most posters here except for Lord Cornhole, Dbag55 and boytoy813 knew the DLINE was not getting enough pressure in preseason and the alarm bells were screaming with those of us that know football. We knew that dline wasn’t addressed enough in the offseason. We knew that the secondary play last year was because of good dline pressure AND SACKS.

    Watch the next GM get us some talent up front and you’ll see a new and improved VHIII.

  23. AJ Says:

    I like Ryan Smith, i see a competitor and not scarred to tackle. Just raw and needs experience. This guy will be a player.

  24. Capt.Tim Says:

    The Bucs played a Zone.
    A zone
    Ryan Smith wasnt assigned to Julio Jones. He was covering the defensive right side.
    Julio caught passes in front of Smith on the right.
    In front of Grimes on the Left.
    In front of Lavonte and Kwon in the flats
    In front of Evans and Conte in middle.

    The only people who would even imply that it was Smiths fault, are people who dont know what a Zone is defense is

    And yes- the blame falls directly on Koetter and Licht. Theyboth need to be fired.
    During the preseason Euphoria, amid all the playoff talk,
    I said that you cant win in the NFL, If you cant rush the passer.
    I said it last year
    And if we leave it to Licht and Koetter- I’ll be saying it next year.

    We have the best pass rushing DT in the league.
    The same man that rejected the love advances of tmaxipad, db55,And lamuncher- sending them into a downward spiral!
    Thats right- Allpro DT And future hall of famer- Gerald McCoy!
    If anyone at OneBuc had any intelligence- they would have found a DE to team with him

    We havent had a decent DE since the great Simione Rice retired.
    And the Bucs have absolutely sucked since Simione Rice retired.

  25. TampaTown Says:

    Anyone who knows football doesn’t blame Ryan Smith for any of this mess. When you have Brent Grimes, Brent Grimes! and don’t use him, you should be fired for that reason alone Mike Smith.

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    StPete, been traveling all day & finally got back to my own ‘puter. Totally agree with you that our secondary would look a lot better if our DLine had any oomph whatsoever. Tired of seeing all these QBs just sit back there all day long waiting for something to open up. We’ll need 1-2 DTs & at least 2 DEs IF Ayers stays on another year or two. I have my doubts about him or Brent Grimes staying on though. Sorry, but 4-12 seasons leave a bad taste in true competitors (which both are). And with our injury situation right now, I have trouble seeing us winning any more games this year.

    Our OLine is a different problem IMO. I only see 2 guys we can build around: Marpet & D. Smith. To make matters worse, BOTH are in the wrong positions right now. Marpet should be back at Guard & Donovan should also be a Guard, although RT is a possibility. Everyone else that we have (including Pamphile) is back-up quality, not starter material. I thought we could ‘fix’ this mess in 2-3 years, but I’m starting to doubt that. Way too many holes right now, and by the time we get them plugged, more will develop (GMC retiring, McDonald too, etc). Our whole personnel scheme is totally out of whack IMO.

  27. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    I’m not ready to blow it all up, but I’m getting closer and closer with each frustrating loss. My issue with this coaching staff is the same with the previous 3 – we keep doing the same thing over and over again but expect different results. We go into games with horrible game plans (not jamming Julio and giving him 10 yards without being touched to pick up steam?!?, and refuse to make adjustments until it’s far too late.

    One thing I can’t believe no one is talking about is Keith Tandy. This guy literally won 2 games for us last year with INT’s (San Diego and New Orleans), but he can’t even see the field this year? Are you kidding me? Okay, let’s say the other guys beat him out. Fair enough. They clearly aren’t doing the job now (Conte was horrid last week). Why not switch it up and give Tandy a shot? What could it hurt? He was the starter all preseason, and all of a sudden he never sees the field, and instead we get Conte? My wife can see that Tandy is better than Conte, but Mike Smith can’t?

  28. Brandon Says:

    All four of the players mentioned on those Chiefs made the Pro Bowl at some point in their lives. Albert Lewis, Kevin Ross were considered the best CB tandem in the NFL at the time (sorry Minniefield and Dixon) and Cherry was among the best to play FS. Lloyd Burruss made at least one Pro Bowl and was an excellent player… as was Kevin Porter who succeeded him. It wasn’t until just a tad bit later that the Chiefs became a force in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball… it was no coincidence that they spent a top 5 draft pick on both Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas, two pass rushing monsters.