Between A Rock And A Hard Place

May 16th, 2018

Frustrating carousel of pass defense.

Joe doesn’t know whether to throw his hands up in the air or just throw up.

The Bucs’ pass defense was just wretched last year. Horrible. Gave up the most passing yards in the league, and that was with Brent Grimes playing in the secondary shutting down guys like Odell Beckham.

Many Bucs fans throw rocks at passing trucks they are so upset that defensive coordinator Mike Smith has cornerbacks playing about as far from receivers as a centerfielder does from a shortstop. And even the goal of playing corners so far off receivers has blown up in the Bucs’ faces.

Jenna Laine of ESPN has the frustrating breakdown that reads like the equivalent of a gator snapping at his own tail.

The reason teams play off coverage is to keep everything in front of them and allow cornerbacks to have their eyes on the quarterback. The Bucs also haven’t had the pass rush or the ideal safety help that press coverage requires. And it wears defenders out to play press coverage for an entire game. But the Bucs have failed to prevent the short passes teams throw against off coverage, and often times those completions have led to explosive gains.

Last season, on passes of five or fewer air yards, the Tampa Bay defense allowed 5.08 yards after the catch — 26th in the league. Tampa Bay also allowed opponents 6.68 yards per reception before first contact.

Joe is tired of reading the apologists blame the defensive line for not getting sacks. No, Joe is not absolving the defensive line here, no way. But when receivers are wide open and quarterbacks are taking two- or three-step drops to hit short passes, Deacon Jones would struggle getting to a quarterback.

For the Bucs to make a run at the playoffs, either they have to play keep-away with Ronald Jones and eat up the clock, or pray that Smith somehow finds a miracle elixir.

Sorry if Joe is dubious that this search will prove fruitful.

34 Responses to “Between A Rock And A Hard Place”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    And……we almost never see Dline hands up…..Hopefully that’s something the new Dline will bring to the table.

    If you can’t get to the QB at least disrupt his throwing lane…..

  2. AKick'nTheBucNuts Says:

    If things don’t improve Joe, go with the throw-up.

  3. Dooshlarue Says:

    Maybe have the doctor check your T- levels……… you sound kinda cranky.

  4. Steve in Mad Beach Says:

    Brent Grimes is great, but he has a pretty unique game.

    To expect all of our corners, some of whom have proven adept at press coverage, to play like Grimes is irresponsible!

    I can’t believe that the coaches can’t see it! Don’t be like Lovie Smith, adapt your game plan and play to your players strengths!

  5. AlteredEgo Says:

    The reason the Bucs DB playoff the WR’s was to keep everything in front of them because the lack of pass rush while being able to read the QB’s eyes….that was perfectly clear and understandable watching the 2018 Bucs

  6. SpanishBuc Says:

    You are way off on this one. YOU CAN’T PLAY PRESS WITHOUT A PASS RUSH!!!! the Bucs were force to play a “prevent” like defense last year because of the lack of TALENT along the def line and secondary. Lets give Drew Brees 5 seconds to throw with press and lets see what he does… Grimes plays off because that is his specific strength. Will the Bucs play off at some points? absolutely. 3rd and long, and obvious passing situations, etc… To prove my point, didn’t the coaches say last year that they wanted Vernon to play closer to the line? sometimes coaches want to do things, but the talent isn’t there.
    So yeah, guys were open on 3 step drops, because the alternative was giving up 50 yard bombs to Julio and Thomas.

  7. 813bucboi Says:

    To expect all of our corners, some of whom have proven adept at press coverage, to play like Grimes is irresponsible!


    and not only is it irresponsible, but its bad/poor coaching as well!!!!!…..either draft off coverage CB’S and play them off coverage or draft man press CB’s and play man press….its that simple…..

    I don’t understand why this staff loves to screw with players… to their strengths…..put them in position to be successful…..

    we have 4 man press CB’s in VHG, ryan smith, c.davis and mj and 2 ball hawking safeties…..we have the pieces to be more aggressive…..

    will this staff switch up their scheme and adjust to the players or continue to force a round peg into a square…..will this staff continue to fail at developing off coverage CB’s?…..


  8. DB55 Says:

    Joe is tired of reading the apologists blame the defensive line for not getting sacks.
    How about stoping the run on 3&2 or 4th&1? Is that a fair expectation?

    5 yac make sense considering the CB are 8 yards off the Los if not further.

  9. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    I never understood this. If the DLINE was so bad at getting to QBs, than why WOULDNT they play press. Give the Dline a second or more time.

    Why would you pair up the leagues worst pass rush with a Coverage style that makes it even easier for QBs to make quick passes. Unbelieveable stupid

  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    It may be tiring to hear, but that doesn’t make it less true, Joe.

  11. 813bucboi Says:


    me and you both brother….

    if the dline cant get any pressure, makes sense to make the throwing windows smaller by playing man press….

    the QB already has a good throwing window with the dline not getting pressure, allowing the CB’s to play off coverage only makes the windows bigger…..

    smitty should’ve played man press and have the safeties play deep not off coverage with the safeties being even deeper…..but wtfdik…..


  12. tnew Says:

    This is also due to the linebackers, especially the mike linebacker for not taking good enough drop. The pass rush isn’t a factor most of the time on a three step drop. It just can’t be. However, disciplined pass rushes don’t allow for the clear throwing lanes generated by all of the slants and games our d-line was running. Combine this with very questionable safety strategy (this is out there if you want to look it up) the corners were often left in no man’s land.

    Not popular to say, but the bucs were really out coached a bunch last season.

  13. Lord Cornelius Says:

    When you have freaking MLBs starting as DEs your pass rush is utter sh1t.

    From watching all the games I did I honestly thought the Bucs had the worst pass rushing line in the entire NFL last year by far. We were 32nd in sacks but somehow still had more passes defended and interceptions than a few teams.

    I’d have liked to see more press. But for all we know those 7-10+ yard slant gains would have been 70 yard TDs after press coverage is broken and the WR is free over the top because the Qb had 5+ f*cking seconds to let the play develop.

    Hell some of the teams close to us in sack totals (Giants/Bills/Jets) had MUCH better QB pressure from their D-lines. It’s just obvious visually

  14. 813bucboi Says:

    the bucs were really out coached a bunch last season.

    don’t let @realist hear this!!!!!!

    he’ll call you a sheep and say IRMA, HK, SOS, lovie and dom were all the reasons why we went 5-11…..not coaching….but as he would say distraction…..

    even tho the leader of our team was quoted saying, “F your circumstances”…….loved it!!!!!

    one of my favorite articles….loved how Winston said:

    “Don’t worry about the rain, and F your circumstances! We don’t got no circumstances! All we know is ball and ball is life!
    then joe fires back with:

    So much fun. And Joe loves the mindset. This year, the Bucs have enough talent and the coaching to win — to hit 10 wins and get to the playoffs. “F” the circumstances, the schedule, the excuses, the inevitable injuries. It’s time for a breakthrough season.
    and those comments were last year!!!!!…lol….


  15. Eric Says:

    Big Ben
    Matt Ryan

    No problem we got this.

  16. Trench War Says:

    I totally agree, it’s like Smith is in prevent defense all game. If Smith would have his corners press, it disrupts short timing routes and forces teams into longer patterns that take more time to develop. That in itself would give our d-line the time needed to get to the QB.

  17. Pickgrin Says:

    Jolly and 813 –

    If the Bucs young CBs had played a lot of press coverage last year to try and make up for lack of DLine talent – like you are suggesting they should have done – then the Bucs would have been the 32nd defense in points allowed as well as yards…

    “Bend but don’t break” as a generalized philosophy was the correct call on defense last year. We literally did not have the talent to play any other way. Especially with all the injuries to some of our best starters like Grimes, LD54, Kwon and Spence.

    This year is different. Jason Licht really brought home some nice groceries for the defensive staff to work with.

    I expect to see a much more aggressive Buccaneers defense now that we loaded up on DL talent and highly drafted 2 aggressive, physical young CBs.

  18. The Buc Realist Says:

    Pickgrin hit the nail on the head!!!!!! I hope the sheep read it a couple of times so it sinks in!!!!!!!! There were pass rush plays that the other team left a RB in pass pro and just stood there looking to help, but the Bucs D-line was manhandled!!!!!!! The few times that the secondary started to come, they were usually burned for an explosive play!!!!!!!

    like this….. @1:37 bucs vs saints week 17

    and if the Bucs were “out coached” in 2017, that must mean that they were out coaching other teams in 2016!!!!!!!! at least then they have soon the ability at some point!!!!!! Unlike loser lovie, worse coach in Buc History!!!!!!!!

    The front office knew the real problem!!!! Head Coach Koetter stated exactly what the 2 issues where in 2017!!!!! Scoring and pass rush!!!!!!! distant 3rd would have been offensive turnovers!!!!!!!!

    That is all!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I will just say this. When we had a solid healthy D-line where McDonald/McCoy/Ayers/Spence were all relatively healthy and playing well- in 2016 – we went 6-2 and had a very solid pass defense over that stretch – with MS as the coach. It was the best defensive play I’ve seen over any regime since the olden days – because we were doing that against good teams who needed to win those games to make the playoffs (Kansas City/Seattle/San Diego/New Orleans/Carolina/etc).

    I don’t think that’s ALL of it. I think MS still had some terrible coaching blunders – primarily Ryan Smitih on Julio Jones-but I just doubt you’ll find any team with the worst pass rush in the league and some sort of solid secondary still.

  20. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Give the 3 DB draft picks time to develop ,
    Let’s see how DL executes and coaches experiment with coverages
    Grimes was a special teams guy early in his career before developing as excellent cornerback.
    You want to sign free agent has beens?- then forget about improving defense

  21. rrsrq Says:

    So is that the CB’s fault if they have tpo play 10 yards off, if we do not press or move up 5 yards, same song, 5 -6 yards per catch easy

  22. Pickgrin Says:

    Well said LC.

    As to the point about R. Smith covering Jones – there literally was no other choice.

    Anyone who says – “well you could have just had Grimes mirror Jones all game” isn’t taking into account that you can’t expect a rookie 4th rd CB who has been thrust into trial by fire out of need – to be comfortable nor really capable of switching sides back and forth every other play. Getting somewhat comfortable on the one side he had been practicing at and playing was really about all Ryan Smith was capable of handling at that point.

    If Julio Jones lines up across from him – what’s a young CB like that to do but take a couple steps back and hope you can keep up and/or try to keep Jones in front of you…

  23. 813bucboi Says:


    how do you know that?….

    our young CB’s were familiar with man press coverage….why don’t you think they could’ve played at least half way decent in man press vs looking like a fish out of water…..

    being 32nd in yards and 22nd in points is NO different than being 32nd in yards and 32nd in points… still have a sorry defense…….why not play to the players strength….why not do what led them to being drafting in the first place?…..

    so now that we have dline help, some suggest we’ll play more aggressive which could mean more man coverage…..ok….so we force VHG to learn how to play in a scheme that’s he hasn’t had a ton a experience, we force ryan smith to play safety then off coverage and now we may play more man coverage….do you see how that can stunt their growth at the position….

    that “bend don’t break” defense broke vs the vikes and was never anything else but broken all season… should’ve been renamed to die slow defense because that’s all we did last year on defense….die slow….


  24. JimmyJack Says:

    Half or more of our defense in 2018 wasnt part of that worst pass defense from lsst year. Who cares what our defense was?

    This defense has been overhauled and it better be a different product. The useless stat of having the last place passing D was just the result of a defense that did nothing well……with an offense thst did them no favors either.

  25. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “Sorry if Joe is dubious that this search will prove fruitful.” Good to see you keeping such an open mind this year Joe.

    @Lord C … “When we had a solid healthy D-line where McDonald/McCoy/ Ayers/ Spence were all relatively healthy and playing well- in 2016 – we went 6-2 and had a very solid pass defense over that stretch – with MS as the coach.” Excellent point Lord C. NFL OCs are masters at sniffing out the slightest weaknesses. Our starting DLine was relatively decent … when healthy. And that was a big part of the problem (they had way too many injuries). The beasts we’ve brought onboard should (hopefully) alleviate that issue. I’m anxious to see what Mike Smith & company can do with this upgrade in talent.

  26. JDR Says:

    Joe’s best assessment of The Bucs EVER. drink n dunk passes killed the Bucs.

  27. Not there yet Says:

    Yeah yeah let’s keep on talking about last year’s team as if it’s the same team we fielded as last year. Goes it’s that time of year to ignore news because unless you made the playoffs who really wants to read about what was so obvious. The local media is so focused on the last decade they refuse to look forward or acknowledge the team has changed in any way. But it’s bucs local media it’s not like you know enough to talk x and O’s about the current roster so keep backing is in the head about how bad 2017 was. Ask jpp or Ryan Jensen how they feel about last year’s team…… exactly you can’t who cares

  28. Lord Cornelius Says:


    My biggest concerns going into 2017 was definitely the D_line and pass rush – primarily due to the average age being like 29-31 and having no depth. Too lazy to find those posts to bump though lol.

    I was still optimistic that Spence would take the jump that may offset a fall in production by a guy like Ayers or McDonald; but everyone’s play seemed to fall off and Spence was toast early from the injury.

    We’re deeper but I wish we had taken like 1 more DE in the draft so that we’d have a 4th option beyond JPP/Curry/Spence that wasn’t a random guy; although Will Clarke seems to have a little potential (?). I duno man everyone was so bad last year lol.

  29. Nick2 Says:

    That’s a recipe for disaster its a wonder we won any games last year.

  30. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Trench War Says
    “I totally agree, it’s like Smith is in prevent defense all game.”

    There is actually a Mike Smith press conferences in which he addresses the way things were last year. For example, Beckwith having to play Defensive End on many occasions.

    He also talked about the CBs, press and off.

  31. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Sorry, the press conference is on the Buccaneers website.

  32. unbelievable Says:

    “apologists blame the defensive line”… what?

    Please show me a team that is good against the pass that also has one of the lowest numbers of sacks and QB pressures in the enture league.

    Go ahead, I’ll wait…

    if you can’t get to the QB in 2 seconds, then you at least better put your damn hands up and swat some passes. Maybe there’s a reason Jay Hayes was let go.

  33. Duke Says:


    “Unbelievably stupid” is pretty harsh. I don’t believe that it’s “smart” to conflate a poor to non existent pass rush as to why teams chose to go with quick routes. Quick 3 step and fire routes work best against a team that is getting to the QB quickly. So…It’s unbelievably stupid to mention the pass rush with why teams hit so many quick routes. It wasn’t a factor in why teams attacked underneath.

    Why did team’s often go with quick routes…….no it’s not pass rush….It’s because the defense schemes to allow it. Why allow underneath routes….to protect against the deep ball. The coaches are not confident defending deep.

    You and a couple self appointed “experts” claim that it’s stupid not to play press…when there’s no pressure. Disrupt a reciever at the line to prevent those short routes……hard to comprehend how a person could say this and call someone else unbelievably stupid. Why would a smart coach run quick under routes if his receivers would be disrupted by playing press….ah ah ah…he won’t

    What would happen??????teams would allow longer routes, no pressure from the d, and exploit the weakness the team is trying to hide. Who matches up with Julio Jones…..ah. no one on the team last season. Yes, play press against a guy who would have a career day if you are so stupid as to give him a wet dream come true wish and man up. ..If The team took that advice..they would get demolished.

    So now your genius plan has been unmasked to be rather pedestrian. The unbelievably stupid guy is a great deal smarter than the guys calling him out.

    Here’s the strange part…. I can’t wait to see the new DB’s play press and disrupt the receivers at the line. Smith is not among the best coordinators in the league. I don’t like his concepts, but I will admit that conceptually it’s a good scheme, that said I would gladly welcome a change. In fact, this is first time ever I have sided with Smith. Which means that you have said something so unbelievably stupid that I find myself defending him. Unbelievable!!!

  34. Clw JB Says:

    Note the CB’s drafted this year— one long and lanky press, one quick squatty build tackler – not hard to see the plan, Davis is outside match up guy for JJ and those big receivers – but there is also Antonio Brown to cover – gotta have a good mix of talent to adapt week to week

    And with the DLine of last year 4 all pros could not have saved the secondary

    Can’t wait to see the revamped D – 🤞