Why Were The Boxes Stacked?

June 19th, 2020

Here is an interesting thought to how the Bucs may look this year on offense. And frankly, Joe has no answer for this riddle.

A stat from the PFF Tribe crawled into Joe’s Twitter timeline last night that got Joe’s attention. The tribe had a stat for which quarterbacks threw the most against stacked defensive boxes, at least eight defenders in the box.

The top two quarterbacks are somewhat easy to figure out as they had excellent ground games. Kirk Cousins of Minnesota and Jimmy GQ of San Francisco.

The third signal-caller really shocked Joe because he was a quarterback who had no run support. That would be former Bucs quarterback, Mr. Entertainment, America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston.

No, this post isn’t about Jameis. It’s about the Bucs.

(The fourth quarterback on the list was Derek Carr. This too was a little odd as the Raiders’ run game wasn’t that great.)

This raises several questions for which Joe has no answer.

Why were teams stacking the box on Jameis? He had no run game. Was this a way defenses figured they could rattle him? It didn’t work so well, as he led the NFL in passing.

Why didn’t the Bucs run more screens? Not sure this is a valid question because, again, it wasn’t like the Bucs couldn’t pass the ball.

How much different will the Bucs offense look this year?

And will defenses stack the box on park-violating, home-invading Bucs quarterback Tom Brady? If they do, how will Brady make them pay? Joe is sensing Brady can carve up a defense that stacks the box just as well as Jameis could.

The fact teams stacked the box so often on the Bucs could also explain why Jameis was pounded so often.

Joe just found this really weird: defenses cramming everyone upfront so much against the Bucs when the run game was so pitiful.

35 Responses to “Why Were The Boxes Stacked?”

  1. Knuckle Sandwich Delivery Service Says:

    Then half would drop off and wait to for the ball to be thrown right to them.

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    “Didn’t work so well”?! I would beg to differ. It’s not that big of a riddle to me. How do you defend a turnover-prone QB?
    Make him throw….duh!
    What was the result?
    Christmas for defenders all year long!
    The Bucs were ranked 13th in rush attempts. It’s not as though they trotted out the QB to throw every play.
    Opposing defenses KNEW Jameis would gift them the ball.
    Yes, it is that simple!

  3. D1 Says:

    If you reverse the cause and effect equation, it will eliminate a good portion of the mystery.

    8 men in the box is the cause, as to why the run game was often ineffective. Teams knew if Winston threw enough times , He would turn the ball over. And whats the most reliable metric used to predict the outcome of the game. Turnovers. That’s only one part.

    The next, is something you’ve not considered. It’s also far more influential in how a defense lines up. Its Formation.

    Offensive alignment/formation is the single most important part of defensive alignment. The bucs faced more 8 man boxes because of their formations .
    The offense prefers to stretch the field vertically and inside out. That results in defenses aligned with more 8 man boxes as they are defending inside to out.

    Combine the two, and it’s like the end of a Scooby-Doo episode. .Mystery solved! The only wrench in the monkey is there’s no single player or coach to blame , nor is there any single part of the game to point to. The run game being effective, or not, is not the only reason to load the box and leading the box makes running tough sledding.

    In an anticipation to your reaction, which I believe will include the 49ers and another team. You believe this illustrates the 8 man boxes are an adjustment to teams who run the ball effectively and successfully. Also, the 49ers ran successfully against loaded boxes which implies the 8 man boxes shouldn’t have shut down the bucs run game. I’m basing this on your article. If correct, then it’s time for a think , the answer is obvious.

  4. EA Says:

    Why stack the box against the goat and risk single covering some of the best receivers in the league, DCs know that it only works against inexperienced QBs and not against the goat. I say runners will have much more room to breathe with Brady under center and the running game will be more productive.

  5. bucnut2 Says:

    This is easy and it’s none of the dribble Joe spouts. The truth is the ENTIRE NFL knows JW is a TO machine and defenses wanted him to have the ball in his hands knowing it was just a matter of time before America’s Turnover Machine(ATM) would do just that, give the defense the ball via interception or fumble. Evidently NFL DC’s value TO’s more than Lee does. This also explains why Winston threw for some many yards, he was throwing against a lot of 8 man boxes.

    The NFL voted on JW’s talent this offseason and decided he is NOT starting QB caliber. At this point, he is a 3rd string QB being paid close to league minimum.

  6. BigHog Says:

    I would love to be The Chief Of Police in The ATL when those offericers start calling in sick or out, it would go like this…cop: good morning, this is Tom I’m calling out my shift! Chief: Don’t worry Tom just turn in your uniforms and badge Monday morning then in my President voice …Your Fired,you son of a b!

  7. Alanbucsfan Says:

    ROJO faced a stacked box on more than 25% of his carries, which tells me opponents respected him. Stacked box is also used to disguise coverages.
    Wirfs and Gronk will improve run blocking execution and Vaughn will be an upgrade over Barber.

  8. Buczilla Says:

    I didn’t sense any sarcasm in this article, so I guess that the confusion is legit. I think they stacked the box and were begging Jameis to throw the ball. Defenses would much rather get turnovers from a turnover prone quarterback than fret about how many yards the dude throws for. It worked for opposing defenses more often than not last year.

  9. SmoothBayRider Says:

    Wait , the Raiders run game wasn’t that great ? Rookie Josh Jacobs had 1150 yds at 4.8 ypc . That’s pretty solid. Cmon Joe .

  10. SteveK Says:

    It was simple, make last year’s QB throw so the opposing defense could create turnovers. Hence, why despite the league lead in passing, the league lead in giveaways more than nullifies it: look at the contract offers.

  11. StonedBuc Says:

    The boxes were stacked cause Jamie’s had no idea where the blitz was coming from and he would freak out and hit panic mode and throw it away instantly to an underneath linebacker!

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    You stack the box to stop the run & force the pass……there is no mystery to that. As to why…..there is no mystery to that either…..they wanted JW to pass. They wanted the turnovers and they got them.

  13. Hodad Says:

    Joe, love the pic of Curly Howard. Did you know before they did short movies they were a vaudeville act? They really would smack each other hard enough for the audience to hear it all the way to the back row in a noisy theater. Good thing the hammers, and crowbars weren’t used then!

  14. Jeffbuc Says:

    Just watched the all 22 of all of his interceptions. A quick google will bring you right to the page. Stacked box to me was for confusing jameis. Delayed blitzes disguising coverages. Watched the all 22 article and he threw a lot of ints to linebackers. Satarting with one of his 3 in week one. Copy cat league they watched the 49rs game tape and saw how they confused jameis all game. They were even bringing a safety down to have pretty much 4 linebacker within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage. And it seems as if the copy cat way worked. If you pass for 370 yards 2 tds and 3-4 interceptions you don’t do you job. If this 3-4 picks lead to 17-20 points and you only gave your team 14 the offense gave up 3-6 more points than they scored. Hence the 7-9 record. If he threw 15 we would have been 10-6 simple

  15. Youngbucs Says:

    Ummmm how about they know Jameis can’t read the defense it’s simple.

  16. AwShbucs Says:

    I mean opposing defenses did manage to rattle Jameis considering he turned the ball over 35 times.

  17. Youngbucs Says:

    Jeffbuc but the defense was horrible to start the season. Another false narrative the played good football weeks 1-2 the offense sucked(Winston).

  18. Sport Says:

    Welcome aboard Joe! Defenses stacked the box and rolled the dice. Been saying this for quite a while. JW would nearly always take the shot downfield, not relentlessly hit the open man. Brady will demoralize the defense if they try that crap on him.

    JW was a gambler. He also seemed to struggle with shorter touch passes. Those two combined gave defenses great comfort in their approach against the Bucs.

    In BA I Trust!

  19. Joe Says:

    Joe, love the pic of Curly Howard. Did you know before they did short movies they were a vaudeville act? They really would smack each other hard enough for the audience to hear it all the way to the back row in a noisy theater.


  20. Lamarcus Says:

    Because Perriman sucked. When djx was here (speed) …no stack boxes. No speed no stack boxes. Common sense

  21. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    Joe remember how the Bucs were the most blitzed team in the NFL.

    That was why they blitzed to rattle the indecisive deer in headlights QB.

  22. Bobby M. Says:

    “Why were teams stacking the box on Jameis?”……I’ve said on here many times, teams had Winston figured out. From a pure statistical standpoint, the more he threw, the higher the chances for turnovers. Everyone on earth came to the same conclusion with the 5 YEARS of data he put on the stats sheets. That’s why a “5,000 yd passer” for the first time in history sits as a 3rd string QB the very next year. He holds the ball too long….his wind up is a tad slow….he locks in on receivers….his ball placement is avg…he wont throw the ball away….and on top of all that he’s over confident in his arm strength that fools him into trying to push the ball into places he shouldn’t.

  23. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Other commenters already quickly solved this mystery… and showed Joe clearly has not heard of Josh Jacobs.

    If Jameis wasn’t rattled, he must just be super inaccurate or blind (Lasik surgery lol) throwing 30 picks.

    The truth is Jameis was not a starting caliber QB last year. Stop saying he led the league in passing. Passing yards is one small part of true effectiveness. He was inefficient and cost the team more games than he won.

  24. Formerly Tampa 2 Says:

    Joe says…..”Why were teams stacking the box on Jameis? He had no run game. Was this a way defenses figured they could rattle him? It didn’t work so well, as he led the NFL in passing……” Because they knew he would rattle! Hence 30 ints. and more qb fumbles.

  25. Defense Rules Says:

    D1 … Excellent analysis, but I still can’t figure out if our opponents were rushing 8 men or lining up with 8 men (the formation) then dropping a couple into coverage. It also seems like our response was quite predictable: we kept additional blockers in to protect Jameis & buy him more time for the intermediate & deep routes.

    If our opponents were so ‘predictable’, it does raise the question in my mind though about why we didn’t take more advantage of quicker, shorter passes (slants, screens, etc). Granted Jameis was quite predictable when it came to turnovers (average of 2 per game), but that’s still only 2 plays out of the 68 plays per game that our offense averaged.

  26. Joe Says:

    The truth is Jameis was not a starting caliber QB last year. Stop saying he led the league in passing.

    Why? Joe should just be ignore the significant accomplishment because you hated him and want him banished to the fires of hell?

    Truth is he led the league in passing. Deal with it.

  27. BrianDorry55 Says:

    Jameis struggles with underneath coverage. It was often the defender dropping out of the box into coverage that would undercut his throw and get the INT.

  28. Quartermaster Sam Says:

    Here is something else you can deal with:


  29. Beeej Says:

    They were trying to get their downstream blocking all set up for the eventual interception

  30. Bill Cicero Says:

    “It didn’t work so well, as he led the NFL in passing.“


    It worked. Winston led the league in interceptions, pick sixes, and fumbles.

  31. D1 Says:

    Defense rules,

    First, allow me to Thank you for your kind words. And at the same time return the compliment.

    If I may clear something up, regressive analysis based on batch stats is going to inevitability lead to simple answers and a high probability that conclusions are misleading and ineffectual.

    You pose a great question about the 8 man box. I’m suggesting that it’s not and either -or answer. It’s more likely a combination of the 2. Let me clarify,
    The offensive scheme favors more recievers in routes versus the trade off , keeping one or more, adding protection. If a defense blitzes or shows it, they take a reciever out of the play. Less people to cover leads to double coverage somewhere. So you’re absolutely correct to suggest that is a factor.

    I’m not sure what exactly you mean when you siggest there’s something predictable . If like to clarify or expound upon your comment please do.
    It’s easier to ask than assume.

    I have to correct the idea that an 8 man box is vulnerable to underneath routes.
    It’s exactly the opposite. An 8 man box with a single corner lined up in a cover 2 look, means that all 5 underneath zones are occupied unless there’s a blitz.
    If no blitz, then it’s foolhardy to attempt anything across the zones. It’s possible, many teams go so with regularly, but it requires an accurate QB who can deliver the ball extremely quickly. Winston cannot do this with an consistency, of course this limits the play calling as these routes aren’t an option.

    Last point, teams watch tape. What became clear is winston would make a presnap decision and teams began to exploit that by dropping a player from near or on the Los, pre snap, into coverage. Winston has always and I mean college to now, been blind to underneath coverage. So it’s not anything that we can single out and then apply to the point it’s a comprehensive all in one explanation. Let’s be honest, football is no where near as simple as fans believe.

  32. Cobraboy Says:

    Because stacking the box on passing downs confused Jameis Christ and he’d often make a mistake: int’s, pick-6’s and fumbles.

    Pretty obvious.

    And it worked.

  33. Chesapeake Bay Bucco Says:

    Maybe that’s why the run game was so bad….stacked box to stop the run, make Jameis wing it and make a pick six w/folks in his face!

  34. Defense Rules Says:

    D1 … Appreciate you circling back to expand on your earlier points; you cleared up a bunch for me. Used to play a lot of chess when I was younger, and much of that was against an older college professor who was beyond brilliant (the ‘Beautiful Mind’ type if you remember the movie). I beat him 1 time in 3 years (and I still think that he let me), although we had lots of (what I thought were) great games. His favorite saying … “When in doubt, attack”.

    Over the years I’ve come to believe that NFL football is like the ultimate game of chess. There’s so much great strategy & tactics involved, although I think that far too few focus on that aspect of the game (probably because it’s so much fun watching ‘giants’ beat the daylights out of each other?). The Bucs with Jameis at the helm were definitely a ‘When in doubt, attack’ team. And we did that quite well.

    Problem was with that little word DOUBT. Jameis seemed to have difficulty deciphering what his opponent was REALLY up to IMO, and too often it seemed that they were simply baiting him. And like you said, he was especially blind to underneath coverage. With the sophistication of today’s NFL defenses, I’m not sure that’s ‘fixable’ in Jameis’ case.

    To win consistently, a QB has to be able to see the entire field, and take advantage when the opportunities arise (and they inevitably do). That’s why they get paid the big bucks IMO. And I think that’s why Jameis is now making $1 mil per year instead of $30 mil.

  35. MRRR Says:

    Jameis did not lead the league in passing. He led it in passing yards. He was 32nd in passing (right behind a benched Nick Foles). Hence, he is now a 3rd string QB with a promising career in the Canadian Football League.