Spill On Aisle D

December 3rd, 2020

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While it’s open season on Bruce Arians, crickets are surrounding Todd Bowles.

That’s just wrong.

As the head coach, Arians deserves to be the focal point when a talented roster goes 1-3 in the third quarter of a season. If you compare a 16-game schedule to a golf tournament, the third quarter represents Saturday, also known as moving day on the links.

In PGA terms, the Bucs just shot an 80.

Tom Brady’s group has come out flat repeatedly in the opening quarter. He hasn’t been sharp early and there’s been too many drops.

But that’s only half the story.

During a bye week marked by self-evaluation, Tampa Bay’s defense appears to be in full retreat. In virtually every significant category, defenders have lost their way.

Let’s go to the tale of two seasons:


Points allowed per game  20.3  26.3
First downs allowed/gm   16.8  21.8
Yards allowed per game   282   378
Passing yds. allowed/gm  218    294
TD passes allowed        7       16
Completion pct. allowed       67    72
Third-down conversions   39 pct.  45 pct.

Buc opponents are throwing more often in the past six weeks. Why? That’s easy — nobody runs against this defense and everyone can see the way opposing quarterbacks are thriving

Tampa Bay’s next opponent is a run-heavy club. The Vikings rely on Dalvin Cook, prompting Minnesota’s 50-50 ratio of rushing attempts and passes that is rare in this league.

The Buc defense is trending in the wrong direction … and it’s not because they face Patrick Mahomes every week. They have also lined up against Daniel Jones, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and Jared Goff during this disconcerting stretch.

There are several culprits.

Leader linebacker Devin White

The tackling, by and large, has been atrocious. Five-yard completions have routinely turned into 12-yard gains. Bowles needs to go back to basic wrap-up techniques when practice resumes next week.

All of Devin White’s five sacks came within a 3-week stretch, but he has now gone four games without a takedown. White is not an asset in coverage, but he’s a blur up the middle so Bowles needs to turn him loose as a pass rusher because the front four isn’t getting there often enough.

Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting have not progressed as young corners. When you factor in Antoine Winfield perhaps hitting the rookie wall at safety, the Bucs don’t seem to have enough play-makers in the secondary.

Even Lavonte David has leveled off, failing to post an interception, a forced fumble or a QB hit during this 6-week stretch.

Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh are getting the job done up front, where Vita Vea’s absence has been felt. Still, the Bucs remain remarkably healthy on both sides of the ball, so injuries are a lame excuse.

The Bucs won’t have to prepare for Mahomes or Drew Brees again unless they meet in the postseason. Instead, it’s on to Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan and Matt Stafford.

That’s not exactly Murderer’s Row for a beleaguered secondary.

Buc fans with long memories haven’t forgotten about the defensive collapse of 2008. Amid the rubble, Monte Kiffin moved on to the University of Tennessee and Jon Gruden moved on to the broadcast booth.

This defense is smoldering at the moment. It’s up to Bowles and his assistants to keep the house from burning down.

20 Responses to “Spill On Aisle D”

  1. Bob in Valrico Says:

    IMO, Cousins, Ryan,and Stafford are QB’s are the ones that do the most damage from the pocket. So it will be important to get pressure on them before
    their WR’s can get open and expose our secondary that appeared confused
    all too often recently.

  2. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:

    Proof positive they also are not being coached up properly. I guess going against coach my scheme Arrogance and Leftovers predictable offense isn’t preparing the defense for game time situations.

  3. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Also press coverage gives Dean (if he makes it back) a better chance to use his size to be a better pass defender. Safeties need to step up and move to the ball
    and back up our corners more.

  4. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Blitz the Statue, Matt Ryan.
    He goes down quicker than a Dale Mabry ho.

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    Et tu Brute? It’s getting to be very chic recently to stomp on the Bucs’ defense as if they were the cause of every loss. Rarely is it so IMO Sage; teams almost always win or lose because BOTH sides of the ball didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

    First 6 games vs last 6 games? Your stats make a convincing argument, but like most lawyers you paint a selective picture. Your conclusion is obviously that the Bucs’ defense did MUCH better in those first 6 games, and no one can dispute that. Our record was 4-2 BUT … we’d beaten exactly ONE team with a winning record (Packers).

    o Bucs outscored those 4 opponents we beat 135-68 … a 2-to-1 margin. We won the TO battle in those 4 wins convincingly by PLUS 7 (10-3).
    o Bucs were outscored In our 2 losses 54-43, and we lost the TO battle by MINUS 3 (4-1).

    So what I see in those first 6 games Ira is some very good COMPLIMENTARY FOOTBALL in our 4 wins; Bucs’ defense generated turnovers at a very high rate and our offense capitalized. A win-win proposition. Not so in our 2 losses.

    Bucs defense obviously hasn’t done as good in our second 6 games as your stats showed, but by-and-large we’ve played like dog doo on BOTH sides of the ball. Our record was still 3-3 in those games, BUT … we’ve beaten exactly ONE team with a winning record (Raiders).

    o Bucs outscored those 3 opponents we beat 116-66 … not quite a a 2-to-1 margin, but close. We won the TO battle in those 3 wins convincingly by PLUS 2 (4-2). Two of those wins came against teams with losing records, and the 3rd team is struggling to stay near .500 . Two have defenses that are ‘meh’ and the other has a Top-10 defense & played us tough (Giants held us to 25 pts).
    o Bucs were outscored In our 3 losses 92-51 (mostly because of the 38-3 massacre by the Saints), and we lost the TO battle by MINUS 2 (7-5). All 3 of our losses came against teams with (1) winning records; (2) pretty good offenses; (3) excellent defenses. We played 2 of those teams close, but we’re not playing grenades so close doesn’t count.

    Turnover differential in those last 6 games wasn’t nearly as great as in the first 6 games, and it’s hurt us IMO. We’re beating up on teams with losing records (5 wins, 1 loss) but we’re losing to the teams with winning records (2-4). And the Turnover Differential (like last year) pretty much tracks with that. Hmmm, MAYBE those teams with winning records who whooped us really are better than we are? (Or maybe they at least have better coaching?)

  6. Bobby M. Says:

    That defense was exposed in week 3 with Dean getting smoked deep nearly every half. There’s nothing Bowles can do, the talent is what it is. You cant disguise bad technique, especially in Bowles schemes. We cant play man and we dont get enough pressure in zone = screwed.

  7. ModHairKen Says:

    Rodgers tore them until they hit him. Mahomes tore them up until they hit him.

    See a trend here, Todd????

    Start the game with overwhelming pressure on QB. You think that would not fire up your D? Send White and Winfield with 4 and watch Cousins fall apart fast. Just make sure your other players are ready for Cook to get in the second level.

  8. Unc Says:

    Article on the defense and the name Shaq Barrett is MIA. Kind of says it all. Only time his name seems to be called anymore is his once a game jumping offside penalty. Best thing they did is not lock him up long term.

  9. rrsrq Says:

    A nice thing to do is when the Bucs defense does get a turnover, can the O get 6 instead of 3. I admit, the Shaq sack-strip netted us 6, but the past few games going back to the Giants, turnovers have either netted in 3 points, punts or turnovers

  10. Ed Says:

    Dean contested many balls last year and picked Rogers. I don’t get his regression. He is the fastest DB on the team and has rangy arm length. He should be a good DB but his lack of awareness on the field can’t be made up by athleticism.

    Then you have these zone schemes where safeties are not helping when the routes go vertical.

    What a mess in this secondary. Joe has been right all along, some veteran DB’s should have been added to the roster.

    Jason Licht’s legacy will be that he could never draft decent DB’s. Can’t count how many DB’s he has spent 1,2 and 3 premium picks on. What do we have to show for it? Keystone Cops in the secondary.

    Bucs have good front seven and horrible DB and Safety play.

  11. Jmarkbuc Says:


    While I share your love of defense, no stats will justify piss poor tackling. The Defense apparently has no desire on the very first series, and that has nothing to do with being on the field to long.

    Certainly, they are not being coached well enough, even on basic fundamentals, much less complex schemes. At the end of the day players have to make plays ( and tackles).

  12. DBS Says:

    Hill just scored again. Helps on the way!

  13. Mike Johnson Says:

    Our defense plays well enough in spots to Win. Its our secondary where we are exposed. If our O line does not get any better, The Falcons and one other team is gonna cause us to finish 9-7.

  14. D1 Says:


    re; Dungy dynasty.

    I read your response to my post and I was unable to answer . My apologies.

    I tend to agree with the bulk of what you posted. Dungy turned the franchise around and that was no small feat. His accomplishments are not forgotten nor dimissed in my opinion.

    Here’s where we differ. Dungy won exactly one post season game. 1 and done was the trend. I don’t believe that is the right path to create a dynasty. You believe that trend would have reversed itself given time.

    Former players state that the locker room was divided into offense and defense and there was outright disdain for the offense among the defensive players. A divided locker room isn’t conducive to the idea of team play.

    There’s been many players who stated Dungy wouldn’t have gotten them to the next level. What is the possible answer to players stating this fact. Honestly, there isn’t any!

    Gruden didn’t get rid of the core players as you’ve stated. Yes it happened under his regime but they were cap casualties which was the direct result of mccays mismanagement of players contracts. Gruden walked into that situation , he didn’t create it. Gruden was also a victim of the Glazer’s financial scheme to acquire Manchester United. That decision placed the team into a cost savings mode that all but crushed their ability to not only retain their own players but also to acquire new players. Basically no matter who was the coach they would have had to deal with the same pressure and make similar decisions. These decisions on exist players wouldn’t have been different with Dungy . Neither Dungy nor Gruden created the problem.

    Parcells turned the bucs job down because he knew there was a one year window to win the superbowl then it was going to come apart quickly because of the existing contracts that were negotiated by mccay. This isn’t something that the Dungy revisionists acknowledge let alone include in their appraisal of the situation. Sorry but that’s a disqualifier for any opinion which seeks to be informed and grounded in reality. Basically it’s revisionist story telling and wishful thinking about a bright future that was destroyed by the evil villian Darth Gruden.

    I’m not pro Dungy or Gruden, it’s simply a matter of fact and a rejection of spectulation that leads me to the point of not championing one coach and casting the other as the protagonist in a fairy tale gone wrong.

  15. orlbucfan Says:

    The Bucs defense showed up in the last 2 games. If Methuselah Brady and BAzz hadn’t cut major brain farts, Bucs would have won. It is just ridiculous. I hope the 2 offensive yahoos get their act together. If they do, Bucs will win the final 4 games.

  16. unbelievable Says:

    Plenty of issues with the defense no doubt, especially the awful soft-a$$ zone that Bowles seems to spend half the game employing before he figures out how to scheme something better.

    But at the same time- what is the defense supposed to do when the offense is just chitting all over itself game after game after game?

    When you first FOUR DRIVES barely net more than 40 yards and Patrick Mahomes or Drew Brees are waiting on the other size, what is the defense supposed to do?

    Are they supposed to be able to be on the field for 40+ minutes every week?

  17. unbelievable Says:

    *waiting on the other side

  18. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Re: one and done as a trend… certainly better than the previous trend. Also better than the trend that followed, other than the SB season of course.

    As far as division in the locker room over offense/defense, I’m sure that is accurate. I’m sure Sapp was raising hell about it, in the interest of accountability. I still firmly believe that one more year would’ve done it for Dungy. After that, salary caps and contract issues were on McKay to figure out, my guess is he would have. In any event Dungy would have gotten the best out of whoever was here, as good coaches are wont to do. We will never know.

    I like all Buc fans, certainly appreciate that Gruden got the SB win… albeit with a defense that he inherited, not a prolific offensive juggernaut of his creation. His disdain for “ the lawyer geek” and his insistence on bringing in his loyalist in Allen did have an effect on the entire organization. Little Napoleon, indeed.

    For me ditching McKay/ Dungy was bad juju that we paid for with the lost decade. As I said above, I believe they would have worked it out based on the turnaround they had already performed. What’s one more?

    I know, being a Fan from ‘76 , that 1996-2001 and 2002 was an incredible time to be a Buc fan. Just feel like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity lost.

  19. D1 Says:


    I know, being a Fan from ‘76 , that 1996-2001 and 2002 was an incredible time to be a Buc fan. Just feel like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity lost.

    I’ve been a fan since 76 as well, so I know exactly what you mean . I have to add that I believe we should have stuck with Shula as OC. Then I think we’d a had a better chance to win in the post season. But that’s a discussion for another day.

  20. D1 Says:

    Oh , if Parcells would have taken the job, mccay was out as gm. So apparently there was a glazer driving mccay out the door before gruden even considered such a move.

    Bruce Allen was successful in getting the team out of cap space hell and into a position of having cap space far quicker than anyone thought possible. UNFORTUNATELY, the Glazer’s seized that opportunity to leverage the team for the financing of their UK acquisition. Buc fans got the shaft because we blew up the team and there was never a rebuilding plan.