Todd Bowles Revives Rotation

December 14th, 2020

Change agent

Hidden by the Bucs’ 26-14 victory was Todd Bowles’ defense getting gutted and gashed in various ways yesterday.

Joe will start at an unexpected place: Kirk Cousins rushing for a career high.

That’s accurate. The Bucs made Cousins look like the 2010 version of Josh Freeman, as he ran for five times for 41 yards. And that yardage did not come from one big-gainer.

The defense had a true up and down day — big highs and big lows.

Minnesota was 9-of-20 combined on third- and fourth down. That’s not ideal, and the Bucs’ run defense was gashed by Dalvin Cook, as well.

But Joe, it’s Dalvin Cook. He does that to everyone.

Joe would counter by saying Cook was shut down five times this season, but not yesterday. The Bucs run defense has been elite — and still is — so Joe has a very high expectation. For a long time, this defense had shut down a long list of running back beasts, including Derrick Henry last season.

Of course, the pass rush was a game-changer with six sacks, and it was evidence of why Joe is always screaming that pass rushers are more valuable than inside linebackers.

Sunday’s blitzing diversity was highly effective and there were enough sound snaps from the back-7 in pass coverage, a reason some of those sacks happened.

Joe took the long route here to note a major change in the Bucs defense yesterday; there was unprecedented rotation along the Bucs’ front line.

LB/edge rusher Anthony Nelson had a career high 36 snaps, which represented 46 percent of the Bucs’ defensive snaps. DE Patrick O’Connor also had a career high with 22 snaps (28 percent). Both guys made impact plays, and Nelson typically does when he gets a chance.

Bowles had Shaq Barrett rushing inside a little and the line rotation was real. Heck, even do-not-dare-take-me-off-the-field Jason Pierre-Paul had fewer snaps than he did against the Chiefs and Rams.

The Bucs defense definitely remains a work in progress, which makes it all the more impressive that they’re a top-10 defense.

42 Responses to “Todd Bowles Revives Rotation”

  1. AlteredEgo Say: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    I’d love to know if someone got sucked leaving the middle of the field open for those QB scrambles .. and if it was something spotted on film by the Vikings OC … if so better now than later

  2. kmattin Says:

    I am far from being any kind of football expert, but what I noticed was a lot of missed tackles, poor tackling, and just slow pursuit. The Bucs were lucky.

  3. August 1976 Buc Says:

    It was a thing of beauty watching the Defense actually take over late in the 4thQ. They were dominated for so much of the game by the Vikings, but then the Bucs D came out of the phone booth and played like superman to close out a win. Just good to see a win, it has been 21 days since they won their last game. GO BUCS!!!

  4. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Correction 28 days since they won, again just glad to see a win. GO BUCS!!!

  5. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I heard all week how Justin Jefferson was gonna eat the Bucs secondary alive. He had 4 catches for 39 yards, so the Bucs defense did something right.

  6. Allbuccedup Says:

    There saying now Todd Bowles is one of the top head coaching candidates. I am sure if we win out Leftwich will be also. If they both leave whats BA going to do. Hopefully we won’t see Freddie Kitchens

  7. The Red Mirage Says:

    I think the secondary played better because they had 32 in there instead of 35. IMO 35 is never mentally prepared to play.

  8. doctor_berto Says:

    Too bad he can’t revive White’s coverage skills

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I feel like they have up the run yards because they are trying to protect the secondary

  10. AKicknTheBucNuts Says:

    Missing Vita for sure.

  11. pm permanently moderated Says:

    They were a top ten D. The last few games they have probably been bottom ten, albeit without Vea. You cant rest on big stats early without looking at the trend to not being able to stop anybody.

  12. SlyPirate Says:

    White had an off game. Got a little too into his own Pro Bowl hype. He’ll bounce back against Atlanta.

  13. Hodad Says:

    Bowles would be better off using White as a pass rusher then ever putting him in coverage.

  14. TampaTown Says:

    The tackling was awful. I bet Brooks and Sapp were both cussing and throwing beers at their TV’s

  15. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I’m of the opinion that Anthony Nelson needs to put on 30 or 40 pounds and tries to be the next Will Gholston, a DE instead of OLB. Draft a pass rusher in the 1st Round in the 2021 Draft.

  16. Beeej Says:

    White HAS the speed, has to be a technique problem

  17. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We definitely miss Vea……our tackling was terrible…..I warned that we needed to contain Cousins…..they didn’t listen…

    But….our secondary shut down Thielen & Jefferson…..less than 40 yards each….no deep stuff…Cousins kept drives alive with short stuff to the TEs…..Several of their drives took lots of time off the clock.

  18. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Tampa Town,

    I don’t think Sapp can afford to waste beer at this point in his life.

  19. dmatt Says:

    The Red Mirage,
    I agree withy you 100%. JDean would’ve gotten toasted had he been available. We need to get creative and keep Mike Edwards in and also Cockrell because SMB often seems lost, out of position, confused, and miss tackles or just flat out a poor tackler. back to Dean, with his size and speed he should be dominating put he’s a clone of SMB and is passive. Say what you want about CDavis n his game against the chiefs THill, but he’s aggressive, alert, can hit to be a corner and is always around the ball. Com on BA get creative on defense. Draft all corners in the first four rounds of 2021 draft.

  20. geno711 Says:

    Cousins exploited Devin White in pass coverage. Someone on the Vikings offensive line opened some nice holes for Dalvin Cook. But OC Kubiak has always had great skill giving running backs some nice lanes. I feel if we played the Vikings twice a year, we would show much better than we did yesterday.

    In the end, we started horrible again and figured out how to win against a team that we are better then – and that is a team that had won 5 of the last 6.

  21. unbelievable Says:

    I will tell you the biggest problem with the Bucs defense:


    Outside the d-linemen, no one on this team can tackle anymore! White looks awful. CBs and safeties look like they are not up for the challenge.

    That is NOT how you win games in January…

    It would also help if our offense didn’t spend the entire 1st quarter every game going 3 and out, leaving the defense on the field for wayyyyyyy too long.

    How many other teams you think we can beat when we lose the TOP battle 40 to 20?

  22. Coburn Says:

    Yeah white was picked on. I remember one drive I. Particular where they had back to back throws right To White and got a score

  23. Mike Johnson Says:

    Our D line is out there a lot and plays in spurts. To their credit, they seem to rise up when they need to. Its our secondary that causes me panic attacks..and some of the tackling. But our front 4 gives it their all and then some. Is good to see Bowles rotating guys in and out to give them a breather.

  24. Frank Pillow Says:

    45 is a significant liability in coverage and his gap control has been marginal for weeks now. He is getting exposed and is not a complete player, by any stretch. That is on our DC. There are ways to ‘mask’ his limitations and max his ‘downhill’ abilities. For whatever reason, Bowles is not doing it.

  25. Jmarkbuc Says:


    How many we gotta draft? We got an awful lot of picks back there already. We need to sign or trade for some proven NFL quality DBs

  26. Wayne PEREZ Says:

    A lot of missed tackles unacceptable

  27. Davenport Buc Says:

    Allbuccedup Says:
    December 14th, 2020 at 11:32 am
    There saying now Todd Bowles is one of the top head coaching candidates. I am sure if we win out Leftwich will be also. If they both leave whats BA going to do. Hopefully we won’t see Freddie Kitchens

    Whoever is still talking about Bowles or Leftwich being HC candidates clearly isn’t watching this team — neither should be on anyone’s short list.

    Will they get interviews? Probably but that is more due to their skin tone – allowing teams to qualify under the Ronney Rule – than their coaching ability

  28. MarkMulligan Says:

    Devin White and the corners are holding the team back from being a top 5 defense. What happened to Devin?

  29. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Watching Minnesota’s kicking woes combined with referee calls (multiple) going the Bucs way was eerily familiar to recent years at the den of depression…nice change

  30. Cobraboy Says:

    @AlteredEgo: The D misses Vea. He clogged the middle and held his ground. The other DL sans Suh try to push their guy one way or another and opens a middle lane for the QB.

    The Vike OL were prolly coached to let the DL determine which side he’s going, and push him in that direction. This was clear of a couple of the middle scrambles/QB draw plays.

    I don’t think we’ll see Matt Ryan take off and run as Cousins did.

    Kirk Cousins is an underrated, underappreciated QB in the NFL.

  31. Doctor Stroud Says:

    Devin White was dropping back in zone coverage a lot of the time. This was a typical responsibility for middle linebackers in the old Tampa 2 system. I’m not sure why it continues because that’s not White’s strength, although he seems to be practicing to get better. I think that he is more suited to be around the line of scrimmage chasing down running backs and QBs, but Bowles/Arians are the guys who get paid to make these decisions.

  32. Defense Rules Says:

    “Minnesota was 9-of-20 combined on third- and fourth down. That’s not ideal, and the Bucs’ run defense was gashed by Dalvin Cook, as well.”

    Zimmer is a risk-taker when it comes to 4th downs & I applaud him for that; it paid off yesterday (No risk-it no biscuit?). Our defense held the Vikings to 5-for-15 on 3rd down conversions, but let them go 4-for-5 on 4th down conversions. Interestingly Zimmer didn’t go for any 4th down conversions in the 1st half, only in the 2nd half, AFTER his FG kicker had already missed 2 FGs on 4th downs.

    Here was the yards-to-go on those 4th down conversions: 1, 6, 6, 5 & 13. Vikings made all but the last one (that’s the one where Cousins fumbled on their last drive & JPP recovered). The first was a Cook run; the others were completed short passes to Conklin, Jefferson & Thielen, 3 pretty good receivers. Smart play-calls by the Vikes, and since Cousins hits 2-of-every-3 passes, the odds were decent that they’d make at least 2 of those conversions. Besides it was late in the game & they were behind; what’d they have to lose?

    What I was impressed with Joe was how the Bucs defense held the Vikings to 5-for-15 on the 3rd down conversions. In the 1st half, Vikings attempted 6 third-down conversions: made 2 by running, threw incomplete on 2 and failed on 2 because of sacks. In the 2nd half, Viking attempted 9 third-down conversions: made 1 by running & 2 by passing, missed on 1 by running & 4 by passing, plus failed on 1 because of a sack.

    Looks like our defense stood tall on 3rd down conversions Joe. Vikings made 3 of their 3rd down conversions by running & 2 by passing, but the Bucs stopped them on 1 running attempt, 6 passing attempts plus had 3 sacks. That sounds like a pretty good day at the office in that regard. Agree with those who said we had too many missed tackles (again), and gave up a lot of rushing yardage to Cook. Kudos to Ndamukong Suh & Shaq Barrett especially for playing tall yesterday; together they were 2 human wrecking balls.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    Doctor Stroud … “Devin White was dropping back in zone coverage a lot of the time”. I saw the same thing a number of times, but only saw him blitz a couple of times. On some of Cook’s early runs especially was wondering why White or LVD wasn’t there to stop him, but maybe Bowles was giving up a little on run defense to gain some on pass defense based on what he’d seen Minnesota do in past games. No idea.

    Yet on the day White had 7 solo tackles & 2 assists, with most of those (7 of the 9) coming in the 2nd half. His ‘averages’ on those tackles weren’t great, but they weren’t all that bad either. Gave up 15 yds total on 3 runs he stopped and 34 yds on 6 passes he was involved in the tackles on. Not great, but not gross either.

  34. Bellingham Bucs Fan Says:

    Our defense has a name. It’s Vita Vea.

  35. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    >Of course, the pass rush was a game-changer with six sacks, and it was evidence of why Joe is always screaming that pass rushers are more valuable than inside linebackers.

    Fair statement Joe, But at the same time Josh Allen in Jacksonville currently only has 2.5 sacks on the year. He was the other edge on the board. also don’t mention Burn no one except FSU fans talking about him had him blowing up like he is. Overall marginally good use of the 5th overall pick all things considered.

  36. jason light Says:

    All you amtures finally seeing what I told you some time ago. WHite is a liabilty in covg. why is he not coming out in passing situations is scary to me.

  37. Jmarkbuc Says:

    9 for 20, no matter how you parse it. Letting a team convert on fourth down 4 TIMES is unacceptable, at least from a playoff caliber defense.

    Got to get off the field. That’s not the offense’s fault. I realize Kirk Cousins is a close second to the GOAT and all but…..

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Bowles was protecting the secondary there was a reason Minnesota didn’t take alota downfield shots

  39. Stanglassman Says:

    It would surprise me if it wasn’t just the result of the lob sided time of possession in the first half. The defense was on the field way too long in the first half.
    That move by O’Conner to get that sack was amazing and came at a great time.

  40. Owlykat Says:

    The amazing thing to me was our Defense did not wilt in the fourth quarter with how many minutes they had to defend before that quarter. Instead they came on fire in the fourth and were determined to win instead of wilting because of too many minutes on the field. Who fired them up? Could it be number 45 who they had voted to be their Captain provided their motivation to win in the fourth quarter. To me that is way more valuable despite 45’s problems in coverage. He also is a good tackler and plays sideline to sideline with good instincts and those qualities are why he could make the Pro Bowl as a first year player.

  41. Bush's Coke Spoon Says:

    doctor_berto Says:
    “Too bad he can’t revive White’s coverage skills.”

    “Revive” implies that it existed in the past! Derrick Brooks he ain’t, for sure.

    LD54, on the other hand, had some nice plays in coverage.

  42. Bush's Coke Spoon Says:

    Hodad Says:
    “Bowles would be better off using White as a pass rusher then ever putting him in coverage.”

    I guess he keeps hoping White will get better with practice. Sort of how he keeps hoping our DBs will eventually get better at running his zone schemes.