Always Be Agressive

February 24th, 2020


Joe remembers in college getting a job covering an NFL team’s training camp.

It was Joe’s first NFL gig and the coach of this team just happened to be Joe’s high school coach’s position coach when he played for the Cowboys. So Joe already had an in from the first day of camp.

(It pays to have good relationships and good sources.)

But Joe learned something else that summer. A long-time NFL scribe pulled Joe aside and told him, “You are aggressive. Always be aggressive.” That can be very much a double-edged sword, but in journalism that was and is excellent advice.

Fast-forward to the Bucs and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Once the Bucs secondary improved right about the time Vernon Hargreaves got launched, the defense transformed from a Powerpuff unit (for way too many years) to a solid NFL defense.

Scott Smith of, citing NextGen stats, suggested the change was just being aggressive.

Bowles’ Buccaneer defense appeared to be significantly more aggressive than the one it replaced, and the final numbers support that impression. According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the 2018 Buccaneers sent four or fewer defenders after the quarterback on 73.3% of opposing dropbacks, and “blitzed” – sent five or more – on 26.7% of them. This past fall, the Buccaneers sent four or fewer defenders after the quarterback on 57.9% of snaps, blitzing 42.1% of the time. That’s a lot more blitzes.

In addition, the Buccaneers’ success rate when sending extra pass-rushers was better in 2019 than it was the year before, in several key categories at least. Of course, it’s fair to point out that the Bucs’ pass-defense numbers were better across the board; they really only had one direction to go after a disastrous 2018.

Yes, that was a signature trait of Mike Smith: sending guys to blitz who couldn’t blitz. And then, a few days later, we would all hear about the evils of lack of communication.

Now Joe thinks a factor Smith didn’t point out is personnel. The Bucs greatly upgraded the defensive personnel for Bowles. Half the 2018 starting secondary was out of football by the start of the season (and still is). Adding Ndamukong Suh and Shaq Barrett were major moves.

But yeah, Joe is glad that for the first time since the second half of the 2016 season, Bucs fans don’t have to hide in bars from the shame of the Bucs defense.

23 Responses to “Always Be Agressive”

  1. El Buco Realisto Says:

    and for those keeping score!!!!!!!!!!!

    Loser Frazier 25.6 Points Allowed per Game (16 games)
    Loser Lovie – 26.1 Points Allowed per Game (16 games)
    Coach Smitty -24.97 Points Allowed Per Game ( 37 games)
    mark duffner – 26.45 Points Allowed Per Game ( 11 games)
    toilet bowles – 28.1 Points Allowed Per Game ( 16 games)

    Pretty telling stats that the local media and sheep will never say or talk about !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sad how the local media and sheep fell hook, line, and sinker to the “all they need is to be coached up”!!!!!!!! even 813Buffoon now “REALIZES”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2019 revealed answers to the sheep, that the “real” fans already knew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    Realist … Pretty telling stats? Not hardly. Jameis threw 7 Pick-6 last year and DIRECTLY gave our opponents 50 points. Subtract that & TBs defense averaged 24.9 PPG … and that’s INCLUDING the 1st half of the season when we had all rookies & 1st year players in the Secondary AND VHIII as a starter. In those other years he threw 1 Pick-6 per year (average) so the impact was far less obviously.

    No defense is going to have great stats when your QB throws 30 INTs and your offense turns the ball over 41 times on the season. Todd Bowles 2019 defense realistically ranked someplace between #15 to #20 all things considered. Not that shabby for a defense with a bunch of rookies (4 starting), a number of new FAs, all playing a totally new defense (hybrid 3-4) under a new DC.

    But I surmise that you knew that already. It just didn’t fit your narrative.

  3. ancientasbuc Says:

    Take out 7 pick-sixes and your argument falls apart my latin realist. Look at the last ten games and see how your line or lack reasoning stacks up? Take away 20 other opportunities of short field because of picks and see how your stats fall apart. NFL is all about situational opportunity for either side of the ball, as a team on defense they did pretty well. I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about. No, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Thanks, though.

  4. tickrdr Says:

    @Realist, and all who tout the 3rd ranked scoring offense:

    Counting ONLY the pick6’s x 7 = 49 points.
    Over 16 games, that’s 3+ points per game less for that defense.
    They were also much better as the year went on.
    They also scored SIX defensive touchdowns. (Best in NFL)

    458 points scored by Bucs offense.(3rd in NFL)
    Minus 49 points given back for SEVEN pick6’s = 409 points (8th in NFL)
    Minus 42 points for SIX defensive TDs = 367 points (16th in NFL)
    Minus 14 points for INTs vs Tenn returned to 6 and 10 yd lines =353 (18th)
    That only accounts for 9 ints by Jameis.
    I ‘m pretty sure the other 21 INTs led to some additional points for opponents.
    Even if the defense held after turnovers, those TOs resulted in lost scoring opportunities for the Bucs.


  5. tickrdr Says:

    @Defense Rules and ancientasbuc:

    Wow, you guys type fast!
    Maybe not, I’, just slowwwww.


  6. El Buco Realisto Says:

    @defense rules

    Why are you and the sheep only counting giveaways for 2019??????? Bucs lead the league in turnovers in 2018 as well!!!!!!!!!! The Bucs have been in the top 10 in turnovers since 2014!!!!!!!!! The Bucs have had the most offensive turnovers since 2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The only narrative is from you only counting the giveaways against the 2019 defense!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I expect better from you defense rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    go bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. tickrdr Says:

    Jameis threw SEVEN pick 6’s to the opponents.
    The defense scored SIX defensive TDs.


  8. El Buco Realisto Says:

    Maybe the sheep could enlighten us to which of the three backup QB’s in that 4 game win streak was the most impressive aggressive defense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Was it gardner’s minshew??? Or Jacoby brissett???? Or David blough?????????????


    go bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I am very encouraged by the BA/Bowles influence on FA & the Draft…..

    Suh, Barrett…….White, SMB, Dean, Edwards…….we finally have something to build on with our defense…..

    Other than pick 6s…….you have to consider the high turnovers in respect to field position…..we have given other teams easy opportunities to score on our defense.

  10. El Buco Realisto Says:

    Oh, and the “real” fans “narrative” did not include how health the 2019 defense was compared to the very injured 2018 roster, or the softer schedule that was 2019!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the home game that Team Glazer gave away for cash reasons does not count as a “difficult” schedule!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Narrative indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    go bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Stats or not, this defense was vastly improved from 2018. The eyes don’t lie! Sure they struggled in the beginning but, this defense was aggressive and fun to watch.
    AND, they IMPROVED! Something that this team lacked prior: Player development.

  12. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Still, the Bucs would have been 9-7 with a decent FG kicker. Franchise record for points scored even with a garbage kicker.

  13. danr Says:

    i think the phrase is Always be Closing.

    Because.. you know, coffee is for closers.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Realist … You expect better from me? LMAO because THAT’S exactly what I was thinking about YOU. We’ve both lived long enough I’m sure to know that you can cherry-pick stats to make them say just about anything you want to.

    In your opening gambit, you used ‘stats’ to compare ONE defensive measure of success (Points Allowed) over several DCs to ‘prove’ that Todd Bowles’ 2019 defense was ‘worse’ than the others. My point was that you were WRONG. Our 2019 defense … if all you do is SUBTRACT the OFFENSIVE PICK-6s when the Bucs’ defense wasn’t even on the field … was actually better than the others. I didn’t do the math for the other years because I figured you could do that for yourself. And if you go even further to SUBTRACT the OTHER POINTS the defense got charged with because of short-field turnovers by the OFFENSE, TB’s 2019 defense ends up looking quite a bit better. As in ranking “someplace between #15 to #20” like I stated.

    The Bucs 2019 defense wasn’t perfect by any means. It had a lot of growing to do in the 1st half of the season especially in a number of different ways. But the takeaway from all that SHOULD be that they kept improving and improving, and the future looks bright IF we can re-sign our own FAs, add a stud veteran Safety AND have a decent draft. Time will tell.

    Oh and BTW, comparing 2018 & 2019 injury stats is amusing. The vast majority of the players we lost in 2018 to IR weren’t starters or key rotational players anyways. And as far as a ‘softer schedule’ goes, that’s highly debatable, because a lot of that depends on WHEN you meet a team during the season (Example: Falcons opening the season with a 1-7 record, versus closing out the season with a 6-2 record).

  15. JP_09 Says:

    Bring back Barrett, Suh & JPP sign Leonard Williams, draft Raekwon Davis this D will be able to carry the team

    Imagine a front 7 with Suh, Vea, Williams, JPP, David, White and Barrett with Davis, Gholston, Nassib and Nelson as depth

  16. Jean Lafitte Says:


  17. Cobraboy Says:

    I <3 tickrdoc's analyses.

    He needs his own football geek blog.

  18. Brandon Says:

    Anybody care to detail first half of the year defensive stats vs. second half of the year defensive stats? The difference is astonishing.

  19. Go Bucs 72 Says:

    Cutting Hargreaves was the best move the Bucs made since letting McCrybaby walk.

  20. Craig Says:

    The Bucs need a wide ranging safety to define the blitz packages. Delpit or McKinney could also allow the secondary the chance to really screw with QBs by switching coverages right as the ball is snapped.

  21. LordCornelius Says:

    Lol @ the idea that Mike Smith was hampered as much by turnovers from the offense as what we saw in 2019.

    2019 Bucs had 7 pick 6’s, and gave up 41 turnovers vs a league average of 20 (+21)

    The 2016 Bucs had 28 turnovers vs the avg of 21 (+7), and one pick 6
    The 2017 Bucs had 27 turnovers vs the avg of 22 (+5), and one pick 6
    the 2018 Bucs had 35 turnovers vs 20 for the avg (+15), and one pick 6

    The Mike Smitty D was screwed over a lot less than the Todd Bowles D…

    In his SECOND YEAR (already an advantage over Bowles) the offense only gave up 5 more turnovers than league average, and one pick 6. Using 3.5 points per turnover, that would be ~23.5 points the offense screwed Mike Smith by.

    Meanwhile, in 2019, we gave up 21 more turnovers than average, with 7 pick 6’s, which equates to 115.5 points.

    When you run the math, Todd Bowles was hampered by 5.75 MORE points per game by his offense, than Mike Smith was hampered by it (115.5 – 23.5 divided by 16 games).

    28.1 minus 5.75 = 22.35 – vs Mike Smith giving up an average of 24.97 per game.

    That’s with our secondary needing 8 games to learn the NFL and only in his 1st year as a DC.

    So right now I’m sorry there is no good argument when you equalize everything.

    If in year 2 of Bowles we see regression and guys like Mitch Trubisky throwing 6 TDs to wide open players on us like we saw with Smitty, then yeah we can say they both suck. But right now it’s simply a bad argument to try if you actualy care to add context to the #’s.

  22. tickrdr Says:


    Thank you, and a hat tip to you, sir!


    BTW: I am quite sure that most would want me to keep my day job.

  23. Buczilla Says:

    Hurray! A defense that isn’t pathetic and just may convince me that it is good if it can continue to play in 2020 the way it did at the end of 2019.