Michael Clayton: Defense Is Prime Concern

December 8th, 2020

Ex-Buc uses the verb “roasted”

Lotta noise out there about the inconsistency of the Buccaneers’ offense, but what about the Bucs’ defense and the step back it’s taken?

Retired Bucs blocking icon Michael Clayton, a Super Bowl champion with the Giants, studies all things Tampa Bay and bellows about some points on WDAE Radio.

Today, Clayton sounded the alarm about the Tampa Bay defense, calling it the most concerning aspect of the club as it approaches a December stretch run off a bye week.

“We have younger players back there; they’re going to get picked on,” Clayton said.

“I knew the moment that Jamel Dean had a bad game, I think it was four or five games ago where he started to get picked on and got roasted a few times, that he was going to be the target. So until we fix that, we’re going to have a big hole on defense. And asking young players like Antoine Winfield and young players like Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting, asking them to step up and play like veterans at a point where they know they’re going to be targeted is a tough ask. Can they do it? Yes. Can they do it consistently? That’s something that they’re going to have to answer.”

Clayton was clear; his “biggest concern” is that Buccaneers secondary and the pass rush “is the healing agent.”

Joe agrees with Clayton and really isn’t surprised. The Bucs handed three 23-year-olds top cornerback jobs, and then complemented them with a 23-year-old safety and rookie safety. That’s a recipe for major growing pains.

Overall, they’ve done a lot of good through 13 games, but the secondary arrow sure feels like it’s pointed in the wrong direction.

24 Responses to “Michael Clayton: Defense Is Prime Concern”

  1. WiscoJoe Says:

    Maybe it’s just me being too optimistic but they have shown potential this year to be a dangerous unit in years to come with all the experience they’re getting now. Would I have liked to see a veteran back there? Absolutely but they’re all under rookie deals right now and they’ve all shown at least a little bit of potential. I’m concerned about Murphy-Bunting though.

  2. Robert Says:

    meh, I feel good about the defense…. PROVIDED the offense can start fast. if they get up a score or 2 they play loose, pin their ears back and dominate….

    but in a dogfight and the offense is not clicking….yeah, their in trouble… but most defenses would be against todays passing nfl. their great for their experience level…..

    now stop playing 10 yards off the line zone coverage against qb’s you know can slice and dice, and offense take you’re head out of your a** and it’s SB baby.

  3. SB : Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    NOTHING is ever gonna change with our CBs playing 9 yards off on 3rd and 1

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I beg to disagree….

    Sure, the defense has some issues….but we stop the run…..create turnovers & usually keep us in games in particular in the 2nd half…

    But the offense….with all it’s weapons…..experience…..very healthy……scoring only 3 & 6 points in an entire half in several games this year. And, sputtering early in games…….Nope….it’s the offense under-performing for sure.

  5. Joe in Michigan Says:

    The bye week was the time to work the kinks out. So it SHOULD be that now the CB’s aren’t playing 10 yards off the LOS. Both the offense and defense SHOULD look better against Minnesota. If the Bucs keep doing the same stuff that has lost them games lately, I’m gonna have a problem with the coaching staff.

  6. View from 132 Says:

    Losing Vita Vea was very significant, but every defense in the league now just hangs on for dear life hoping for a holding call. They aren’t allowed to hit anyone.

  7. Buc Bro Says:

    Taking any stock in any analysis from Clayton is just laughable. He’s funny to listen to as when I hear him speak about the game I feel lie I am listening to someone who watched a completely different game than me.

  8. dmatt Says:

    I’m sorry but JDean seems to be lost, confused, n out of position against everyone we play. Even with him intercepting ARodgers which I think was luck, if we meet Green Bay in the playoffs, ARod will make him pay. JDean is just too soft n passive, kinda reminds me of former Buc’s corner, Myron Lewis. I think we have a better chance with Ross Cockrell starting at corner than we do with Dean.

  9. El Buco Realisto Says:

    Coaching is the “prime concern”!!!!!!!!!!! And it is not even close!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

  10. Buc1987 Says:

    TBBF….I agree with what you said.

    Too much firepower on O not to be scoring at will.

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Almost everyone seems to want the Bucs’ Secondary to press more, but with all the blitzing that Todd Bowles conjures up, press MIGHT be a prescription for getting beat deep (aka, explosive plays?). Without an effective pass rush, putting 5 young CBs/Safeties ‘on an island’ seems to be an invitation to one of them getting beat over the top periodically.

    The only viable solution to holding down our opponents’ passing effectiveness IMO if … wait for it … IMPROVE THE PASS RUSH. Whatever it takes, do it. It’s probably a safe bet that our opponents know the Bucs first priority is STOP THE RUN, and that we do gap control very effectively. One can only wonder however if that makes our pass rush more predictable & easier to counter.

    I don’t think that was a huge concern when Vea was in there; he was strong enough to just overpower people. But I doubt that Nachos & McLendon have even close to that same power, or even Gholston. And with Suh being double-teamed so much since Vea went down, we apparently need to become a lot more ‘creative’ than we’ve been.

  12. gotbbucs Says:

    Defense and a running game can travel in December and January. Passing games can become inconsistent late in the year.

    Every year you see the same thing league wide, every team throws the ball all over the place in September and October, then November and December you start to see the teams that are actual contenders slow the games down and pound the rock.

  13. Amar Says:


  14. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Death by a thousand slants seems worse to me than getting beat over the top occasionally. Both end up in opposing TD’s, one just takes a little longer.

    What’s equally disturbing is that we get a hit on a ball carrier, but we don’t take them down until they’ve gained another 6-7 yards, that’s horribly discouraging, and to me, sucks the life out of a defense as much as anything else.

    And has Khalil Davis played one down?

  15. grammarian Says:

    You should watch the OTHER teams coverage… They call the shots before we get burned. Just imagine if the broadcasters see it, I’m sure opposing coaches see it!!

    Now I get why Bowles is all over the place with this defense. He’s still covering up for coverage problems, missing run stuffer/pass rush… But Dean was lights out in the beginning of the year… Wazzup?? Don’t know how dudes seem to “pop” wide open all the time.

    This is NOT a good defense, just a sometimes lucky and streaky one. Green Bay game would have been 70-0 if Karma hadn’t bitch slapped dichhead Rogers for strutting around like a toolsack after 2nd TD.
    Rams game was a lucky break away from being a horrendous blowout.
    Saints game WAS the blowout.
    If it wasn’t for timely turnovers that seemed to reverse fortune… I guess we have a few more wins with LadyBrady… But its almost harder to watch!

    OC coaching is way below average. Nice Kid, out of his depth getting schooled by DC’s left and right. This whole offense looks severely disjointed, uncomfortable and hard to watch.

    BUCS are on the verge of Lovie-esque blowouts every week! Even to bad teams.

  16. chris L Says:

    our “feared” front seven has sucked. bottom line we havent been getting pressure and that is the name of the game in the nfl. it is brutal. that has to change for us to stand any chance

  17. Hodad Says:

    Winfield is the only rookie. Enough with the young excuse. Some of these guys have played 27 pro games. They’ve played most of our division opponents 4 times already. If they aren’t playing well it’s because they aren’t very talented, they aren’t being coached up, or both. It’s not because they’re young. A young player is around 20, 21, a 23yr old is a young vet already. Excuses, excuses.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    gotbbucs … You make a good point that ‘passing games can become inconsistent late in the year’ I think because defenses’ pass coverage seems to improve as the year marches on. Practice makes perfect? IDK but the Bucs’ pass coverage seems to have become the exception. It has regressed from what I can see, but then again we have been playing some much better passing teams (Chiefs, Rams, Saints, etc) in this 2nd half of the season.

    And we’ve all seen time & time again that pass rush & pass coverage go hand-in-hand. Give any NFL QB long enough back there & he’ll slice & dice you 1000 different ways. There is no alternative for pressure.

    There’s also no alternative for having your own OFFENSE control the game. Steelers (#7 offense & #1 defense) won the TO Differential AND the TOP convincingly this season in almost all of their 11 wins … they controlled the games IOW. Steelers are tied for the #1 spot in TO Differential this season with +11 and #3 in TOP with 32:04 this year. Interesting that the team that finally beat them , Washington (23-17) beat them by using a very BALANCED ATTACK, won the TOP (barely), and played very sound defense.

    I’m convinced that’s what the Bucs need to do in these remaining 4 games: run a very BALANCED ATTACK, win the Turnover Differential in each game, control the Time-of-Possession, and play sound defense. IF we can pull that off after this BYE, we’ve got a chance to make some noise in the playoffs.

  19. Buxszntkt Says:

    LOL, Clayton is probably wishing he could play against Dean ! Could act like a WR rather than a blocker. Dean would still beat him.

  20. SOEbuc Says:

    These are man defense CBs and were playing well early on in the year. Dean was leading PD rating in the NFL earlier. Carlton Davis didn’t just switch from average to very good (no blame for not getting help on Tyrek Hill. Another show of not smart coaching) after a switch to man defense, which is what got him picked in the second round being a man CB. These DB blitz all day reads are getting too easy for opponents. I really like Bowels and would love for him to stay and teach up this young secondary, but this is not looking like the fiery hot scheme the Bucs defense was praised about early in the year.

  21. SinsBeingJettisonedFromAnOrrifice Says:

    The Clown Prince of Football has spoken. Clayton is a cartoon.

  22. Blogtalkfootball.com Says:

    I am noticing that the teams with the most interceptions seem to disrupt the pocket in the middle. We were disruptive in the middle when Vea was healthy. Bowles needs to figure out a way to bring back that disruptive feeling, cuz it’s gone gone gone…

  23. Jmarkbuc Says:


    “ I’m convinced that’s what the Bucs need to do in these remaining 4 games: run a very BALANCED ATTACK, win the Turnover Differential in each game, control the Time-of-Possession, and play sound defense. IF we can pull that off after this BYE, we’ve got a chance to make some noise in the playoffs.”

    To do that you would need a game plan and coaching.

  24. gus georgiou Says:

    Same old problem just like when Mike Smith was defensive coordinator. He refused to blitz and finally was shown the door. Bowles thinks his corners can cover and doesn’t realize they can’t and refused to blitz all the time. Can’t cover when the don’t blitz so how can it get worse if they blitz.