“Formations Don’t Win Games For You”

January 23rd, 2018

One mystery of the 2017 Buccaneers was how their linebackers corps was a talented strength of the team — yet the Bucs ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in yards allowed per carry and last in total yards allowed.

The Bucs didn’t stop the run or the pass.

How could this be with such a deep and impressive group of linebackers?

There are many reasons. But one thing it’s not is their formations at the snap of the ball.

Dirk Koetter made that clear on the Buccaneers Radio Network as the season came to a close. He was asked about whether the Bucs personnel is a fit for the 3-4 defense.

Koetter said the Bucs mixed things up and implied that they would have played more 3-4 defense if Noah Spence had stayed healthy. But regardless, it’s not about what you label your defense.

“Formations don’t win games for you. There’s no magic in the 3-4 versus the 4-3,” Koetter said. “You need the right mixture of the right players and the right scheme and a little bit of luck. Those are the things that come into play. We played some 3-4 this year; we played some 4-3 this year. We’ll continue to do whatever we think fits our talent best once we see how things shake out.”

Well said by Koetter, but Joe will add one more element to mixture that crafts a strong defense: the willingness and desire to be the most physical team on the football field every week.

While Mike Smith’s defense was dreadful this season, Joe is at least encouraged that Smith is open to flexibility. He’s not as rigid as many coaches can be.

Hopefully, he won’t be handcuffed next season by a crop of defensive ends that had Joe yearning for the days of Tim Crowder and Stylez White.

50 Responses to ““Formations Don’t Win Games For You””

  1. Warrenfb12 Says:

    Think Belichick believes in “a little bit of luck”?

  2. SOEbuc Says:

    Maybe the one thing I’ve agreed with Koetter about this past year. But when you run the most BS defensive scheme to go with your 4-3 or 3-4, that doesn’t win games for you.

  3. Robert Says:

    this guys has obviously never played madden

  4. Robert Says:

    “Think Belichick believes in “a little bit of luck”?”

    post of the year!

  5. JimmyJack Says:

    I was listening to one of the post game conversation so Sunday evening and while discussing the Eagles defense on election line stick out to me.

    The dude said they play “fast and disciplined” which is what wins football games……Or maybe it was Mike Vrabel talking about his time with the Pats.

    Point is “fast and disciplined” equals greatness on defense in this league. It is something nobody can use to describe our defense. We play with little confidence and little intensity. Whenever that changes this defense will be legitimate.

  6. 813bucboi Says:

    im calling BS…..1 player goes down and your entire defensive game plan for the entire year is thrown out the window…..lol….C’MON MAN!!!!

    @joe, yesterday you wrote that DB said this staff has to be able to deal with injuries…..I see what he was saying…..GO BUCS!!!!

  7. Baz Says:

    No, formations do not win games for you. But formations DO put your players in the best positions to win games, and the coaches have consistently not done this.
    We continue to bemoan the lack of pass rush (rightfully so), and everyone wants a premier 4-3 DE (again, rightfully so). But until then, use the personnel we have (Beckwith, David, Kwon, Spence, etc) to create pressure off the edges. Stop trying to force our personnel into preconceived notions of a defense, and that fault lies directly at the feet of Mike Smith and Dirk (who apparently fails to hold Smith accountable by allowing him to keep his job)!

    Because of the lack of accountability and coaching, 2018 already seems like a wasted year. I f*cking hate this.

  8. The Buc Realist Says:

    Think Belichick believes in “a little bit of luck”?

    Don’t need luck if you have the other teams playbook and signals!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!

  9. 813bucboi Says:

    @joe…that was sunday……

    It can go down the line. How do you deal with injuries. Depth-wise, do you draft on defense after drafting on offense? So, point being that they have a process in place that they got to go through and evaluate these issues.”

    Brooks concluded by simply saying Licht and Koetter must craft a plan.
    Joe was intrigued when Brooks said “how do you deal with injuries.” No, Joe won’t attempt to read between lines there. Dangerous territory.

    i’ll read between the lines for you joe…..as I mentioned earlier, counting on a player to provide a major impact and production on defense while knowing that certain player has an history of injury is just poor coaching….its bad coaching….

    what brooks was saying is you don’t go into the season with 1 player at every position…..you have back ups just in case something happens….this staff should’ve had a back up plan in case spence gets hurt…like use GMC at DE….or they should’ve been eyeing a PS player from another teams roster….something….anything besides using the excuse injuries…..

    Texans lost Marcerlus…watt…Watson and others for the year….and they still found a way to win 4 games…..we lost spence for the year Winston for 3 games(2-1) and we only managed to win 5 games…..unacceptable!!!!!!…..GO BUCS!!!!!

  10. 813bucboi Says:

    BAZ SAYS: use the personnel we have (Beckwith, David, Kwon, Spence, etc) to create pressure off the edges. Stop trying to force our personnel into preconceived notions of a defense, and that fault lies directly at the feet of Mike Smith and Dirk (who apparently fails to hold Smith accountable by allowing him to keep his job)!
    Because of the lack of accountability and coaching, 2018 already seems like a wasted year. I f*cking hate this.



  11. JimmyJack Says:

    Good call on the BS 813…….There were no adjustment made when AP was destroying us. This defense looked like they didn’t even realize J.Jones was a good player. We look lost during crunch time when GB and CAR opened up their playbooks for their QBs. Minnesota basically did whatever they wanted and had success…..same with the Saints.

    This defense was just flat out unprepared and unable to adjust to anything other teams were doing to us. We played with one minded gameplan and stick with it reguardless of results.

    It’s just bad coaching that’s all there is too it. Go back and rewatch the AFC championship and look at the diffence on both sides of the ball for the victor. They had much more success in the second half in every phase. That’s called adjustment. Something good coaches are prepared for, have their teams trained for, and successfully implement during games. Our teams in not trained or prepared to do this. If they were they would do it.

  12. Lamarcus Says:


    While I’m watching Spence play 3-4 end in Buffalo and Gholston playing 4-3 end….. Best formations with the talent u have …..😂😂😂😂

  13. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Warrenfb12 Says
    “Think Belichick believes in “a little bit of luck”?”

    If he had 21 of 22 starter injured during the season, Bill would pray for good luck.

  14. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I believe the defensive issue was player-based. We had too many players injured, and we didn’t have the right players on the team in places of need.

    And I believe it all comes down the the defensive line. If we could generate just 40+ sacks, the rest of our defense would look stellar. Even the secondary.

  15. Doolnutts Says:

    Bellicheck definitely believes in luck lolol… Guy named David Tyree made bill believe in super bowl XLII

  16. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I have to ask…if some of you have already given up on 2018, why are you here?

    I cannot believe anyone would give up before Free Agency and the Draft. A year ago, you all felt these were the right coaches. That would and should not change in one year. If you feel you were wrong a year ago, than that means you can be wrong now.

    So let’s at least see the off season moves the Bucs make.

    Our season would have been much, much better if we had started with a good kicker and had fewer injuries. On offense we were only less than a point below average points scored for the league.

    Yes, Licht needs to be aggressive in getting the defensive line…but isn’t it best to at least wait and see if he does get who we need?

  17. Lunchbox Says:

    That’s right coach. Formations don’t win games. Good preparation, good play calling, and timely adjustments win games.

  18. Bill Douglas Says:

    There are 2 kinds of coaches in football: finesse coaches and execution coaches.

    Finesse coaches are schemers, coaches who think that playcalling, play design, and player matchups matter. Not just in general, but on a dynamic weekly basis.

    Execution coaches play ‘their game’. They believe the pre-established system works and any failure is the result of poor execution. These coaches are dying and will soon be extinct. Despite all the talk we’ve heard from the current coaching staff, this is what they are.

    Spence goes down and we scrap the 3-4 plans? C’mon. Go take a look at some Jags film from their 2007 offense and tell me you don’t recognize at least half of the plays. The overall style is certainly familiar (and dated). This offense is 10+ years old and opposing players have been quoted as saying it’s the most predictable offense in the league. Sadly, I have to agree. I thought this offense would mature with Jameis, but it hasn’t. I sure hope it starts to, otherwise we’re screwed.

  19. DislocatedBucsFan Says:

    IMHO when don’t have the players to run a solid 4-3. 43 requires decent ends who can pressure the qb. Requires speed. Gohlston cant get there ayers cant get there and the only ones who can is C mac, GMC and NS. To make matters worse we cant get the three on the field at the same time. 34 places speed in its most vital places in the front 7. I think that the bucs could easily switch to a true 34 and be succesful. Its not likely tho because this is do or die for the coaching staff and JL.

    5 techs: GMC, Gholston, CMac, russell
    NT: Baker (he’s still on the roster) Silga and Tu
    Will: LVD
    Mike1: Kwon, Bull
    Mike 2: Glanton, bond

    Add talent and depth in free agency as available and you have a new d front. It’d be nice too, because no one would have film on us.

  20. Bucs since '96 Says:

    What’s taking so long to post Kaufmans podcast Joe?

  21. Hodad Says:

    Koetter got more then a little bit of luck, he kept his job!

  22. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Buccs are just way too soft in pass coverage. Do you see Jacksonville playing their corners ten yards off the ball? No. Most of the time their db’s are in your grill, playing physical at the line while their front four his getting home with the rush!

  23. Baz Says:

    I feel you about our feelings last year vs our feelings this year, and our ability to be wrong. I see your point, and it is valid. Here’s part of my point: We have another year of data on this coaching staff, and they have shown a distinct lack of scheming, improving players via teaching and coaching, and creating formations and opportunities for the players (esp on defense) to have success.

    I have seen Ryan Smith improve, but I’ve seen Hargreaves regress. We can both point out pluses and minuses in those departments. However, there seems to be a systemic issue of not putting our players in the best position to make plays. Dirk is right in it doesn’t matter what you call the defense… 4-3, 3-4, nickel, whatever. However, with our personnel right now, everyone knows (including, God willing, the coaching staff) you can’t just unleash the front 4 of the 4-3 and expect them to get pressure on the opposing QB. The results are not there, and that is irrefutable. So, call it a 4-3, call it a 3-4, but have different players back off the line while attacking with 1-2 linebackers on the other side. Have a safety or CB blitz and a DE drop into a short zone. Pressure doesn’t have to result in a sack as long as it forces the O-Line and the QB to make quick decisions based on unexpected pressure, and those decisions can result in mistakes (read: turnovers, or incomplete passes).

    I am not super excited about the draft because I don’t believe in this coaching staff’s ability to properly develop those rookies. I hate saying that, but there it is, and I’ve been a fan since ’76 when I was 4. I’m not super excited about FA because who would want to come to this sh*tshow? I love my team, I love my Bucs, but dang it our success rate in FA is not good with this front office. I believe in Licht’s ability to draft and I like him as a GM, and I understand why he hired Dirk as HC (his rapport with Jameis), and I even understand why they’ve giving Dirk another year; I was happy they did. I am NOT happy about NO coaching/staff changes! No defense staff changes? NONE?

    Maybe they learned a few things this past year and will do things differently, but at this point I’ve yet to see them adjust, either in-game or through the year. I’m just tired of being frustrated and yet another year of no playoffs, and I expect no different in 2018. I hope I’m wrong.

  24. 813bucboi Says:


    I was one of the few that thought lovie deserved another year….I was one of the few that thought dirk would be in over his head…..

    I was one of the few that thought Winston made/makes dirk look better than what he actually is…..I was one of the few that thought 9-7 was a fluke…..

    turns out I wasn’t that far off in my assessment…..dirk has shown he is in over his head….Winston has most certainly saved dirks job for at least 1 more year….and this season sure made 9-7 look like a fluke…..

    folks aren’t giving up on 2018….we just see a train headed towards a brick wall….we have an idea of what the outcome will be….a massive wreck with lots of casualties…..

    of course theirs time to adjust the tracks and save the day but we just witnessed a train wreck this year….and now we have the same conductor and his crew driving this train down the same tracks that caused a massive wreck….everything has stayed the same…..so why wouldn’t we accept another train wreck…..

    kicker?….I can go for that slightly…..but the injury excuse…nawl….every team has injuries….good coaches know how to adjust when a player goes down….

    offense being below average….that unacceptable….with all the weapons we have we should be in the top 5 in scoring…..not passing…..

    the same holes we have this off season are the same holes we have now….ive seen this movie before and already know how it ends….but i’ll sit back and watch the show….GO BUCS!!!!

  25. Brandon Says:

    Mike Smith is flexible because everything he coaches out there, sucks. He knows he can suck just as bad from the 3-4 as he does from the 4-3. His defenses in Atlanta were atrocious. He went through numerous defensive coordinators but in the end… they were his defenses.. especially considering that is what got him the Atlanta job to begin with.

  26. LakeLand Says:

    The Bucs don’t have the personnel to run a successful 4-3 or 3-4.

  27. DB55 Says:

    Truth or dare?

  28. Joe Says:

    What’s taking so long to post Kaufmans podcast Joe?

    Patience, grasshopper. Ira is almost a senior citizen. He’s not as quick as he once was.

  29. BucEmUp Says:

    Well when you constantly run soft zone coverage 95 %of the time that is is CERTAINLY not.something that’s going to win games for.you. High school backup wrs could get open against this defense. This is the first season where I really feel like ownership doesn’t give a rats arse about wins. This team.is SO close, a few upgrades and a good dc and they would be on par with the rest of the division

  30. bculaw Says:

    Hard to argue that @Lakeland. It is really depressing with the talent this team has on defense that it couldn’t find SOME way to be successful – especially on 3rd down and late in games.

  31. BucEmUp Says:

    @BONZAI, How do you expect this team to generate 40 plus sacks the way they position the dbs? How can you get to the qb when your corner is 10 yards deep and they run a quick slant?It happens all season every season!

    I personally hope that Licht finds a way to get a proven veteran pass rusher and the best.one in the draft along with another corner. I can’t wait for the “holes” on the roster to be filled (Even though every team has them) and this unit still be ranked.in the bottom 6 in total defense. THEN HOPEFULLY the owners wake up and fire Smith while retaining Koetter. Until that happens I have zero hope in a winning season.

    It really does feel like the next season is already lost. Unless Smith does.a complete 180 it’s gonna be ugly

  32. Bucsfanman Says:

    ‘Tis the season of excuses!!!

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    @813bucboi … “counting on a player to provide a major impact and production on defense while knowing that certain player has an history of injury is just poor coaching….its bad coaching.” Seriously bucboi? Coaches are provided the talent to work with from … yup, the GM. That’s Licht’s job, not Smitty’s. Don’t blame Smitty for Bucs drafting a 240 lb DE whose shoulder has been busted up 2 years running. Don’t blame Smitty for Jack Smith never really getting healed & ready to go. Don’t blame Smitty for not signing Calais Campbell or even for not re-signing Akeem Spence & bringing Fatty Baker instead. Don’t blame Smitty for McCoy & McDonald & Ayers being hurt quite a bit this year (they are old men after all). Don’t blame Smitty for spending a whopping 7th round pick on Stevie T … then having him go on IR before the season even started.

    Now you CAN blame Smitty for not being able to ‘coach up’ the likes of Trattou, Russell, Siliga, Ward & Lambert. All of them Practice Squad material you say? That shouldn’t matter, Smitty has to coach them up to play with the big boys. Remember, if they can’t run with the big dogs they need to get back on the porch.

  34. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “While Mike Smith’s defense was dreadful this season, Joe is at least encouraged that Smith is open to flexibility. He’s not as rigid as many coaches can be. Hopefully, he won’t be handcuffed next season by a crop of defensive ends that had Joe yearning for the days of Tim Crowder and Stylez White.”

    Wow Joe, that’s the first POSITIVE thing I’ve seen you write about Scapegoat Smitty in … forever. Actually make that TWO positive things: (1) Smitty’s ‘flexible’; and (2) he’s been handcuffed by marginal talent. I just saw this glimmer of hope that’s really raised my optimism now for 2018.

  35. 813bucboi Says:


    Brooks concluded by simply saying Licht and Koetter must craft a plan.
    Joe was intrigued when Brooks said “how do you deal with injuries.”

    sounds like brooks agrees that it falls on the coaches as well…..coaches have to adjust when injuries occur…..not make excuses!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!

  36. 813bucboi Says:

    Bucsfanman Says:
    January 23rd, 2018 at 2:12 pm
    ‘Tis the season of excuses!!!


    they’re out in full swing!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  37. Rod Munch Says:

    Unless my memory is failing me, in base set, they played almost exclusively 4-3 and I can’t remember them playing a 3-4 at all. If he says they did play 3-4 at times, OK, then I guess they did – but I don’t recall it.

    To my mind switching to a 3-4 could be the answer to the lack of available DE’s in FA. The Bucs have the edge rushers in Spence and in particular David, both could come from the edge in a 3-4 – and with Beckwith built like a 3-4 ILB it might make sense. McCoy you could move to end, like Sapp was in Oakland – yes it’s not the best use of his talent but with so little talent around McCoy he might have to move to help the team – then you just need a NT, and the Bucs did draft one last year, albeit it in the 7th round. Baker also might be a more natural fit at NT if they keep him around. Then Gholston is a perfect fit for a 3-4 running stopping DE. Kwon is a bit undersized for a traditional 3-4 ILB spot, but I think he can pull it off. Of course if the Bucs can get a DE via trade or FA, a real impact guy, then all of this moot, you just stick with a base 4-3, but I don’t see that happening and even if Cubb is there at 7, are you going to bank your entire defense on a rookie DE?

  38. Pickgrin Says:

    Many freaked when it was revealed that coach Smith was being retained and are still freaking and complaining. I felt it was the right move to keep Smith for another year. Just like Dirk – he showed enough in 2016 and deserves the opportunity to fix 2017’s horrendous results. One opportunity – this year. Win this year or you both will be gone. Everybody understands that I think – which is good because its flat out do or die this year for the entire coaching staff.

    That said – I’m getting sick already of hearing some of these nice sounding little sound bite type responses to questions. Like this from coach K – “We’ll continue to do whatever we think fits our talent best”.

    Anyone remember the # of great and similar sounding little canned answers that Coach Smith was continually throwing out when he 1st got here as well as last off season?

    “we are going to find the best ways to utilize the talent available” (which was music to our ears having just suffered through 2 years of rigidity in that respect from coach “my scheme”) – punked

    “Our defense will be simple for the players and confusing for the opposing QB” – punked

    Where is the evidence? Why did results on the field look largely like the opposite of these stated goals?

    I still don’t understand what happened last year. I don’t care what anybody says – this team’s roster was WAY more talented than 5-11. Trust me – I’m a Buccaneer fan for decades. I know EXACTLY what a 5-11 team looks like.

    This coaching staff with over 100 years of NFL coaching experience between them seemed to have no clue as to what was going “wrong” in 2017. They seemed helpless to “adjust” to bad results – especially on the defensive side of the ball.

    Was coaching truly the problem last year? Was too many players under-performing for much of the year the problem? Not enough talent? Bad Luck? Injuries? Tough Schedule? All of the above to one degree or another?

    I don’t think anyone can definitively say “I KNOW EXACTLY what the Bucs problem was in 2017” – including the coaches. Which is probably why so many are already writing off the 2018 season in January.

    I choose to remain optimistic. This team is more likely to go 11-5 than 5-11 again in 2018. Hope I’m correct.

  39. lokog Says:

    I miss football already

  40. GhostofSchiano Says:

    the willingness and desire to be the most physical team on the football field every week.

    damn right!!!!

  41. R.O. Says:

    The Vikings believed in a little bit of luck to beat the Saints..

  42. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Put it this way. If you put together a defense full of Bucs fans, that defense would suck whether it’s 3-4 or 4-3. The Bucs have a bad defense either way you slice it. I do however believe that we are close once we add just 1 pass rusher and another solid interior DT who can also get pressure on the QB.

    Focus on the Dline in free agency and the draft. Hit on 2 players and we are a top 5 defense. We need to build the box and the linebackers are already set. We are 2 stud Dlinemen away and heres my solution. Spend on just 1 DL in free agency and hit the other in the draft. We I say spend Licht, I mean SPEND!! No more bargain players, those always fail. Depth pieces at best.

  43. Tbbucs3 Says:

    When I said top 5 I meant top 15. We are a ways away from top 5. Build the Dline to become top 15 then focus on the secondary to take that next step.

  44. Rod Munch Says:

    Tbbucs3 – Spend on who? Go look at the FA’s that will be available after players get tagged or resign.

  45. BucEmUp Says:

    Pickvrin that’s exactly why I’m upset that Smith was retained, I don’t want to lose Koetter because Smith can’t get the job done. What happens if the offense improves drastically in 2018 but they still end.up 6 and 10? It’s stupid. Everyone wants to give Smith another year of of some fluke in 2016 of those 5 ganes.only 2 were against descent teams.

    I’d still like.to.know how.anyone expect a pass rusher to change anything on defense when the dbs are in another area code

  46. tbbucs3 Says:

    Rod- Ezekiel Ansah is almost certain to test the FA market, why not make a strong push for him? Other names are Demarcus Lawerence and Dontari Poe who are all upgrades. Lichts biggest weakness as a GM is that he spends all of his time in FA trying to save money and limit spending on bargain players. If something opens up in FA then take it.

  47. Rod Munch Says:

    tbbucs3 – No way Demarcus Lawrence hits the market, if he does then yes, the Bucs should go get him hard. On Ansah, I don’t know, he could still resign with the Lions – if they let him walk then that’s sort of a red flag that something is wrong. Detroit can afford to keep Ansah, he’s not that old, and he’s the best player on their defense – if they just say you can leave, then something is up – but I guess he’s tagged with a transition tag (I think you can use that) or he’s resigned. As for Poe he’s a NT coming off a season where he had 2.5 sacks, he doesn’t really help at all with the pass rush – and that’s what the Bucs need badly. Clinton McDonald had 5 sacks I think last year, I don’t see Poe as an upgrade, and that’s not just from a stat standpoint, that’s from an on-field standpoint.

  48. sj_bucsfan Says:

    Think Belichick believes in “a little bit of luck”?

    ^ ^ ^

  49. sj_bucsfan Says:

    Maybe Team Glazer could petition the league (at the next owners meeting) To schedule the Bucs to play the Browns at least 10 times next season. That way the (apparent) pressure would be off Dirk to fire his defensive genius buddy or make any other coaching changes. After all (with a little luck) the pieces are ready to fall together… Also it would free up a lot of time for “Koach” & GM to concentrate on resigning 01 djax & 1/2 sack Swiggy…

    Disclaimer; The only luck the Bucs ever seem to have is of the BAD variety! However if they did not have that they would have no luck at all…

  50. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Rod- Poe is an elite run stuffer who can also add some interior pressure. The run defense needs an upgrade very badly. Poe’s the main reason that the Chiefs had an elite “bend but don’t break defense” 2 seasons ago cause opponents couldn’t run up the middle in them and they were forced to pass in the tight windows of the redzone. I say we make a strong push for Poe to add depth and create a 3 headed monster in the middle.