Excellent Run Defense

January 19th, 2020

Bucs DC Todd Bowles.

For those of us old enough — how sad is it there are Bucs fans who don’t have a clear memory of the last time the Bucs won a playoff game, the 2003 Super Bowl?! — we are conditioned to believe the best Bucs defense against the run was the Tampa Bay defense of the glory years.

Yes, those were the years when the Bucs defense was led by Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Rondé Barber and Simeon Rice.

Oh, it was good all right. But not the best. No, the best run defense in Bucs history happened in the just-completed season. That was the best.

The Bucs held opponents 1,181 yards, the fewest since the 2012 Bucs under former commander Greg Schiano.

Additionally, the Bucs set a franchise record for fewest rushing first downs allowed in a season. Opponents only moved the chains on the ground 70 times. The previous record was 75.

Is there any doubt why Bucs coach Bucco Bruce Arians wants to keep this group together?

24 Responses to “Excellent Run Defense”

  1. Larry Says:

    No matter how good your defense is it is is almost impossible to overcome 30 interceptions and fumbles a season. I just hope and pray the Bucs don’t give Winston a large contract until he proves he can have AT LEAST a 3 to 1 ratio of of TD to Int’s. If he can prove that then he is worth a large contract. I believe Bridgewater is the better, more dependable QB but the Saints may not let him get away.

  2. PSL Bob Says:

    Do what it takes to keep the D-Line together, get a replacement for Dotson in FA, and then in the draft add a safety (pulling for Delpit from LSU) in the first round, a RB in the second, and beef up the O- and D-lines in subsequent rounds.

  3. geno711 Says:

    I want to keep this defense together but this is a passing league more than a running league. How likely you are to make the playoffs is more closely tied to your pass defense than your run defense.

    Here is an interesting stat in 2018 (not 2019) – the teams with the worst rush DEFENSE average in the regular season were:

    1. Rams 5.1 yards per carry — in Superbowl
    2. Kansas City 5.0 – Conference Championship
    3. NE 4.9 – Superbowl
    4. Seattle – playoffs

    Lot’s of ways to win in this league not just one methodology.
    Kansas City going to get to the Superbowl with the 4th worst rush defense this year.

    The teams in the top of rush defense per carry this year all missed the playoffs this year:

    Tampa, Jets, Steelers, Raiders, Bears and Giants.

    It was nice to see teams not run against the Buc’s on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 because we could be dominant.

    But we still need to be better at pass defense. New England has 5 corner backs that can play and 4 safeties that can play. This is not a league where you can just have 2 good corners and they play 16 games. Guys in those position get hurt a lot so you need at least 4.

  4. Colonel_mp Says:

    Bring back the front seven minus Nasib if there has to be one casualty. Nelson should provide more depth in 2nd year, and draft another DE like Matos from Penn State, who may drop all the way to us in 2nd round after hazing scam.

  5. First Down Tampa Bay Says:

    “For those of us old enough — how sad is it there are Bucs fans who don’t have a clear memory of the last time the Bucs won a playoff game, the 2003 Super Bowl?!”

    When you weren’t even alive yet 😬

  6. J Says:

    Anthony Nelson gets lost in that shuffle and I still believe he’s a promising player, hopefully he has no injury issues like this past season.

  7. Bill Gootee Says:

    Meanwhile, the Carolina McCoys gave up 2,296 yards last season, about 143 yards per game.

    I think we improved by getting rid of McCoy and getting Suh

  8. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Perhaps because it’s not a thread about our QB…coincidence is not causation…but the level of thought and intellect and lack of posting just feelings is superior this morning.

    Great thoughts all.

    J Excellent point I had forgotten all about Nelson and I agree with you he did show promise.


    Wow a rational post on our current situation.

  9. Smashsquatch Says:

    Run D was excellent statistically, but early in the year teams were attacking our porous pass D which inflated those numbers. It’s more of a passing league than when the Bucs hoisted the Lombardi trophy. Opposing teams ran the ball at the end of games with large leads, looking to kill the clock. Those were predictable run scenarios and easy to defend. While the run D was excellent this year, I’d pump the breaks on comparing it to the Bucs of old. While we’re trending in the right direction they still need to show me a lot more as a unit; although I agree, BA should keep the D-line intact and continue adding to that side of the ball. If they add a stud safety the whole unit will become a team strength next year. Tbd….

  10. PSL Bob Says:

    This team is only missing a few pieces. Most importantly, they need to keep building that winning mentality, particularly with all the young talent, get a good RB in the draft to pair with ROJO, get a good safety in the draft, get a replacement for Dotson in FA, and finally cut down on turnovers. Whether they do that with another QB or coaching up Jameis, I couldn’t care less. The offense, with another good RB and shoring up the OL, will be hard to stop (it already was in 2019). It’s just a matter of reducing the TOs, and assuming that Gay’s meltdown at the end of the season is correctable (had he been on target for a couple of field goals, we’d have finished 9-7). I’m feeling very optimistic. Of course I do this time of year every year.

  11. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Having a great run defense is a step in the right direction. Don’t mess with success keep this unit together,Jason. a good running game makes the passing game more unpredictable. We don’t want that, for our young secondary who seem to coming along just fine.

  12. martinii Says:

    I too remember that SB Defense and admit I was overwelmed at breakfast when I read this article. I seldom post anymore because one I am a victim of terminal Moderation and over the years so many of the articles become redundant simply because the Buc’s are not a very good team. Nonetheless this is an affirmation that all the Stats in the world are worthless and opinions are like A-holes. The “Any Given Sunday,” Axiom and the best teams are those who know how to Win and Want to win usually prevail. Another losing season where the Buc’s produce a great defense and high scoring Offense but like it’s fans become spectators in January.

  13. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    “Gay’s meltdown at the end of the season is correctable”

    Just bring 3 more kickers to training camp. Easy correction.

    Imagine if it were that easy with the QB position?

  14. ModHairKen Says:

    It is misleading. When the teams couldn’t run, they threw. A lot and for a lot of yards. More passing attempts, more sack opportunities.

    We need better analysis.

  15. Pryda...Sec147 Says:

    I can see is having two new starters on the defense of line next season

  16. Chesapeake Bucco Says:

    Joe’s blurb is about defense, and OF COURSE Larry has to start right off with the 30 interceptions! Obsessive, maybe?

  17. ManzielMadness Says:

    It’s gonna be tough choosing between JPP/Suh/Barrett.. hopefully we can keep 2 of the 3 and draft DL in either the 1st or 2nd. We also need a RB… and a RT… (among others) wonder how much a trade down from 14 would get us in return… could use the picks.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    Pryda … I HOPE you’re wrong about having 2 new starters on the DLine this season. We KNOW what we have in JPP, Suh, Nassib, Barrett, plus the guys STILL on our roster (like Vea).

    Take a look at the guys who played the majority of the defensive snaps this past season. Set the cutoff at say 50% of the D snaps (defense was on the field for 1,130 TOTAL defensive snaps in 2019). Here’s the list that you’ll end up with (everyone had 16 games except as noted):

    o LVD … 1124 snaps (99.5%)
    o Davis … 934 snaps (82.7%) … in 14 games
    o Whitehead … 919 snaps (81.3%) … in 14 games
    o Barrett … 889 snaps (78.7%)
    o Suh … 874 snaps (77.6%)
    o White … 826 snaps (73.1%) … in 13 games
    o Vea … 749 snaps (66.3%)
    o SMB … 686 snaps (60.7%)
    o Nassib … 630 snaps (55.8%) … in 14 games
    o Adams … 616 snaps (54.5%) … in 14 games
    o Edwards … 614 snaps (54.3%) … in 15 games
    o JPP … 586 snaps (51.9%) … in only 10 games

    So our 4 top defensive UFAs (JPP, Suh, Barrett & Nassib) were on the field for a TOTAL of almost THREE THOUSAND defensive snaps (OK, 2,979 to be precise). Those FOUR are MOUNTAIN MEN IMO. ASSUMING that level of availability AND productivity can be replaced easily is extremely risky. ASSUMING that it can be replaced by ROOKIES is even riskier. 5th Round Rookies like Nelson (153 D snaps all season … 13.5%) rarely get on the field all that much (different story with 1st Rounders).

    Re-sign ALL FOUR (JPP, Suh, Barrett & Nassib) and be super thankful if they decide to stay with us. All 4 will have plenty of options.

  19. Joe in Michigan Says:

    It’d be great to keep all of them, but I imagine that Nassib will get an offer elsewhere that he can’t refuse. Will Anthony Nelson be able to fill his role if he does leave? Unlike many who want us to go OT or QB in the 1st Round, I’d like us to go defense in Rounds 1 & 2. I get that we need a long term answer at RT, with the depth at OT this year we should be able to get a swing tackle in the 3rd or 4th.

  20. WestChap Says:

    JPP and Suh are the nasty tip of the spear for this D. I don’t get too excited about the historic run D stats given it would have been coaching malpractice not to pass on the Bucs in first half of the season. Still, the front 7 was super impressive and never gave up as the back end coverage slowly gained form… and Suh was the primary driver culturally until JPP returned and picked up right where he left off last year. Both are stud leaders on the field and locker room enforcers of dedication to excellence. These 2 are critical to maintaining the edgy swagger for the young Bucs like Vea, White, SMB, Davis, Dean and perhaps Nelson. It may be heresy, but I prioritize these 2 over Shaq as I’m not sure if Shaq is the same without Suh/JPP but those 2 will continue to excel if Shaq wanders off to collect a huge check. Look at Aaron Donald’s sack count with and without Suh… he makes an entire D better. JPP is the same kind of dude. Keep them in pewter Even if you have to overpay a little and lose Shaq.

  21. Beeej Says:

    First half of the season, we had the most porous pass defense in the league, no reason to run

  22. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Piece by piece…..this team is coming together……and it appears to be within our control….we have some cap space….all of our draft picks and get first shot at signing our FAs…
    Yes, we have a few needs but they are few…..
    The draft should give us a couple of starters and some depth….
    I like where we are.
    We definitely need to bring this entire defense back…..

  23. Buczilla Says:

    If teams ran the ball last year like they did in the 1980’s I would be ecstatic with this stat. When we are top 10 against the pass as well as the run then I will be impressed. It’s a great sign that our defense is improving, but I need to see more next year before I buy in.

  24. Swampbuc Says:

    The Buccaneers have had only 6 — SIX — playoff game wins in their squalid history.

    1979 Eagles
    1997 Lions
    1999 Redskins
    2002 Niners, Eagles, Raiders

    Making the Eagles the only team the Bucs have beaten twice in the playoffs.

    Of course there are the losses

    1979 Rams
    1981 Cowboys
    1982 Cowboys
    1997 Packers
    1999 Rams
    2000 Eagles
    2001 Eagles
    2005 Redskins
    2007 Giants

    So that’s a 6-9 record in the playoffs. Fitting for a historically bad team that had been on the mend until the owners from Manchester decided it better to fire a proven winning head coach and hire a party boy.