Bowles Needs The Bye Week

October 17th, 2019


A bye week is a precious opportunity to reassess, the pause that refreshes before you resume the grind of a 16-game schedule.

There are a whole lot of Bucs who need to step up before play resumes in Nashville.

Jameis Winston has to stop turning the ball over, O.J. Howard has to will himself to be a factor in the passing game and Vernon Hargreaves has to find some confidence.

But let’s not forget about Todd Bowles, the struggling defensive guru who is probably watching film until his eyes bleed.

This defense has been bleeding ever since the Giants staged that massive second-half comeback in Tampa. For the first 10 quarters of the season, Tampa Bay’s aggressive defensive scheme was working.

A rough 10 quarters for Todd Bowles

Since then, not so much.

The Bucs have loaded up to stop the run this season, and the results have been impressive. They have shut down some of the NFL’s premier backs, but the job’s only half done.

The Bucs have yielded an NFL-high 304.5 yards per game through the air, which is bad enough, but there’s more. It’s about points allowed — and only Miami and Atlanta are more hospitable on that score. The Dolphins don’t want to win and Dan Quinn is on track to be the next head coach relieved of his duties.

Numbers Tell Hargreaves’ Story

Pass defense is the obvious culprit and Hargreaves is the obvious poster child. He is supposed to be the savvy veteran of a very young secondary and for awhile, he looked reborn as a press corner.

Hargreaves was sensational in Week 2 at Charlotte, where he stopped Christian McCaffrey at the goal-line for the last of his 12 tackles. But as the season has progressed, Hargreaves has regressed. The Panthers picked on him from the start in London and never relented.

For the season, Hargreaves has been targeted 45 times, according to Pro Football Reference. He has allowed 32 completions, a 71.1 percent success rate that harkens back to Tampa Bay’s wretched pass defense numbers in 2018. Quarterbacks are averaging 10.3 yards every time they send passes in his direction.

In contrast, Carolina’s James Bradberry has also been targeted 45 times, with an average gain of only 6.2 yards. Hargreaves has been beaten for 3 touchdowns … Bradberry none.

Hargreaves has plenty of company in this bewildered backfield, but he’s supposed to be the leader, a former first-round pick in line to make almost $10 million next year.

“Vernon can be a little more physical covering guys,” says Bruce Arians. That’s a more diplomatic way of saying the Bucs are too soft.

Picking The Groceries

Ira Kaufman says Todd Bowles was a strong voice in personnel decisions

If Bowles can’t trust his secondary, it will have a chilling effect on his defensive blueprint. In theory, this is a blitz-happy scheme, but when those extra rushers don’t get there, you are exposed and vulnerable to big plays. The Bucs are already paying that price, allowing 26 completions of 20 yards or more.

In a way, Tampa Bay’s stout run defense has contributed to the problem. Buc opponents average 41.7 pass attempts per game, tops in the league.

No surprise there.

Would you rather try to outmuscle Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh in the trenches or fling throws downfield against this secondary and this scheme? Through six games, Bowles hasn’t exactly raised his profile as someone deserving of a second chance as a head coach.

“In certain situations, we probably need to be up as opposed to being off in coverage and giving up some easy throws,” Bowles says.

Given the league’s obsession with increased scoring, it’s never been more challenging to play cornerback or safety. That’s a given, but it’s also true that the Bucs are falling far short of the NFL standard when it comes to pass defense.

If the primary issue is talent, Bowles has a hand in that, too. He certainly had a strong voice before the Bucs went heavy on defensive backs in the April draft.

The next opponent is not known for a prolific passing attack. The Titans win with sound defense and a solid ground game. That’s their identity, even as they transition from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill.

On paper, and with an extra week to prepare, this matchup could prove to be a tonic for Tampa Bay’s reeling pass defense. But if Adam Humphries and company end up having a field day against the Bucs, Mr. Bowles will have some serious explaining to do after all that soul-searching.

Ira Kaufman launched his professional NFL coverage in 1979, back when Earl Campbell was the toast of the NFL and Lee Roy Selmon was defensive player of the year. After a lifetime at the Tampa Tribune, “The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports” joined in July of 2016. His twice-weekly podcast and three columns per week appear here year-round and are presented by Bill Currie Ford. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter is a regular on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio and a part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show, in addition to his other appearances. You can hang out with Ira during every Bucs road games at Buffalo Wild Wings. His schedule is linked here.

Tampa’s First Family of Ford is home to a nationwide lifetime warranty on new and preowned vehicles.

21 Responses to “Bowles Needs The Bye Week”

  1. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    no IRA…..

    All Bowles needs is talent

    …..and a QB that doesn’t throw to the other team all the time

  2. Bucsfaninchina Says:

    @BucsAnthem did you only watch last week? Jameis has been better with protecting the football, yet we give up a crazy # of points every.single.week. These young guys need to develop, and fast.

  3. Tye Says:

    Tennessee has turned to their backup and basically have won the game 2 weeks before it is even played… Bucs commonly lose to backups… SMH!

  4. zzbuc Says:

    Ira, why keep on pointing fingers to OJ howard…….He is more a blocking TE than a target……I just don´t get it. He is a non factor, because his coaches making be a non factor…..Pretty clear!!!!
    Respect on our defense, its pretty simple, is lika a short blanket if you want your lower part to be protected you will unpprotect your higher part. If u send everybody chasing the QB your secondary will be unprotected and thre will be plenty of room to thow,l if u keep your LB behind the DL will not rush de passer and will have plentu of time to throw the ball, no mistery in here, Apart from having tremendous free field we lack of talent on our secondary, specially on CB, because our safties are just good, specially whiteside

  5. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ Bucsfaninchina

    Have you not watched the last five years of Winston’s play???

    – All of his fumbles
    – All of his interceptions
    – All of his stupid decision making

    Have you?

    Why is it that all Jameis Defenders/apologists always brings up just recent games……one or two games here and there?

    For Jameis it’s either

    -Good Jamies or Bad Jameis…….there is no inbetween

    Jameis will be fine as a backup QB for the rest of his time in the NFL……but he’s not Franchise QB material.

    Stop dreaming and wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Good read Ira. Once teams figure out your weaknesses, they attack them over & over & over until you adjust. IF you don’t adjust … or can’t … kiss the season goodbye.

    Our defense isn’t nearly as bad as Joe makes them out to be. Yes, they’ve given up a lot of points (185), but 23 should really be tagged to the Bucs’ offense (3 Pick6 & 1 Safety). And if you ‘discount’ the remaining points allowed for the impact of short fields because of all the other offensive TOs, our defense is really down in the 150 POINTS ALLOWED range in 6 games. That’s still BAD IMO (say 25 PPG), but not unexpected given our new defensive scheme, limited pass rush & young Secondary.

    The defense during these next 10 games SHOULD be better. I’m convinced that we’ve got some talented 1st & 2nd year players who just need experience & playing time together. Guys like Vea, White, Davis, Dean, SMB, Whitehead & Edwards. That’s SEVEN potential starters right there (all but 2 are already starters, and HOPEFULLY Dean & SMB replace VHIII & MJ Stewart for the remainder of this season). But among that group of 7, they have a grand total of THREE years of NFL experience. They’ll grow together though and HOPEFULLY set the foundation for another great Tampa Bay defense in coming years.

    DLine veterans like Suh & Gholston are surely helping there, and LVD is surely helping provide leadership in the LB corps. But our Secondary has no leadership & will have to develop its’ own. That’ll happen in time (probably Edwards?) but until it does they’ll continue to make rookie mistakes. But HOPEFULLY less & less as the year goes on. We’ve faced some good teams early-on, but it looks like this 2nd half of the season won’t be quite as grueling on our defense. HOPEFULLY we see better results in the won-loss column.

  7. Locked In Says:

    “Hargreaves was sensational in Week 2 at Charlotte, where he stopped Christian McCaffrey at the goal-line for the last of his 12 tackles.”
    Next, we’ll probably hear that he was injured on that play and has been playing hurt since then. Send him back to IR.

    I have a BAD feeling about Tannehill starting his first game as a Titan.
    We’ll be Tennessee ready, Buccaneer style!

  8. Locked In Says:

    * first start

  9. james west Says:

    yeah were tennessee ready quote from lovie smith, we’ll see 2 coaches and 2 coordinators plus a bye later, i have lost all confidence in bowles, arians, winston and the bucs secondary

  10. ElioT Says:

    VH3 is slow, small and weak…

    Thanks again Jason! You’re the man.


  11. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    “ElioT Says:
    October 17th, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    VH3 is slow, small and weak…”



    …… wouldn’t say that to his face internet tough guy

  12. 813bucboi Says:

    wow…no mention of the lack of pass rush….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  13. doctor_berto Says:

    I would definitely say that to Hargreaves face. And he is slow, small and weak.

  14. ElioT Says:


    I definitely would, I’m not scared.

    Never liked Hargreaves from that one December game a few years ago against the Saints.

    Dude dropped a sure INT that hit him right in the hands, when the Bucs were down two scores late in the 4th, with playoff hopes on the line.

    Dropping an INT that could have saved the game and the season is one thing, it’s a tough job.

    But… Mr. Hargreaves proceeded to dance around like an absolute idiot seemingly not realizing the impact he could have made.

    That told me all I needed to know.

    He’s a bum and he acts like a b**ch.

    GTFO Vernon.

  15. ElioT Says:

    I’m also 6’6” and I can grapple, so yeah I’d have no problem saying that to his face.

    With that said, I show respect to all human beings till they give me very good reason not to.

  16. Lunchbox Says:

    Well, at least we won’t lose this week lol.

  17. TampaTown Says:

    Off coverage. Isn’t that what got Mike Smith fired? Why is that even still a thing, especially here?! If you want to help the secondary how about improving the pass rush (see: Lynch, John). Is there ever going to be any hope?

  18. Mike Johnson Says:

    Bowles has and is doing a great job with what he has. Even you know Ira, its very difficult to turn chicken sh** into chicken salad overnight. Our 4 man pass rush sucks. So we gotta blitz continuously. Good teams make you pay leaving your secondary exposed. But I do think Arians will figure the Bucs season. I look for us to truly roll then. I look for massive changes after this year. But I won’t knock Bowles. He says he blitzes so much because he has no choice. And he is..dead right.

  19. bucnole Says:

    “In certain situations, we probably need to be up as opposed to being off in coverage and giving up some easy throws,” Bowles says.

    Well no $#it!!!
    This is not something you want to hear from an experienced DC.
    Just tell us WTF you didn’t correct that during the games – we all see what our secondary is doing – and you do too. Do something DIFFERENT!!!

  20. Wideleftandright Says:

    Hargreaves is the second coming of Rod (Burnt Toast ) Jones ! JL needs to go sell cars or something because talent evaluation doesn’t seem to be his thing.
    Drafting ME 13 was great but the skills he has were obvious to all when he came out of college.
    Evaluating others that would have to have their game transition to the NFL level seems to be a problem.
    I think they should hire Dungy as a draft consultant.

  21. #1bucsfan Says:

    We need a bye week every week so we don’t lose dammit