Reputation Overblown?

July 15th, 2021

A numbers shift for Bucs DC Todd Bowles

Look, Todd Bowles is an excellent defensive coordinator. Here is the proof.

Bowles took one of the most garbage defensive units your eyes will ever see, a defense under Mike Smith that was on pace for an NFL record-worst defense in 2018. And in two years Bowles built a Super Bowl-winning defense that suffocated one of the most dangerous offenses the NFL has ever seen.

That, folks, is what you call a turnaround.

Bowles is known as a blitz-first, ask-questions-later type of coach. That’s the talking point for national analysts. But it seems reality is a bit different.

Stats don’t lie, especially those that come from the computer sensors players wear during games that track their every step — NextGen stats. And last year, Bowles wasn’t the blitz-mad sorcerer most NFL types portray him to be.

Per NextGen stats, the Bucs were not among the top-five teams in blitzing. The lead blitzers were the Baltimore Crows, which blitzed 45.3 percent of the time. The No. 5 team in blitzing was Arizona at 38.2 percent percent of stnaps.

So Bowles’ reputation is a bit overstated.

Or could it be that Bowles has enough horses up front now that he doesn’t need to blitz as often?

17 Responses to “Reputation Overblown?”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Interesting 2020 results, but I think your bottom line … “Bowles has enough horses up front now that he doesn’t need to blitz as often” … is really now more the case for our Bucs’ defense.

    Prior to Bowles becoming our DC, Bucs were simply not a blitzing team. In 2018 for instance, Tampa Bay ranked in the Bottom-third in terms of frequency sending 5-or-more rushers, but we ranked in the Bottom-5 when it came to pressure rate achieved when sending 5-or-more rushers (only 38.2%, barely ahead of Bengals, Broncos & Eagles).

    Unless I misread the numbers, that changed in 2019 when Todd Bowles was hired. Bucs were #2 in the NFL in 2019 (behind the Ravens) in terms of rushing both 5-plus and 6-plus defenders. Looks like Bowles rushed 5-plus on 40% of the defensive snaps, but only achieved a pressure rate of 39% (below average). And we were roughly middle-of-the-pack when it came to blitzing defensive backs, but got decent results when we did (52% pressure rate).

    Looks to me like Todd Bowles adjusted very nicely in 2020. Might’ve been because he & our defense had gained a year of experience getting to know each other and their ‘chemistry’ improved? Not sure, but the results certainly did improve in 2020. Couldn’t find updated numbers for 2020, but Devin White’s blitzing might be a good indicator. Blitzed more in 2020 (91 times) than in 2019 (75 times), but got a LOT better results (9 sacks as opposed to 2.5 sacks).

  2. Jason Says:

    So if we’re not in the top 5, where do we rank? C’mon Joe, you can do better. Lol.

  3. gotbbucs Says:

    If anything, this proves that he was smart enough to go against his own tendencies and let the talent on the field dictate how he coached. You know, build the scheme around the players.

    The first Chiefs game also proves that he’s capable and not afraid to alter the scheme mid game. He trusted his players and they trusted him.

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Our CBs had zero sacks last year……our front 7 is so strong….we don’t need to blitz….

  5. ModHairKen Says:

    Perhaps it seems he blitzes a lot more than he does because his timing is impeccable and the success rate high.

  6. Chuckstutz Says:

    Wondering, where were we ranked?

  7. Joe. V Says:

    The reality is that Todd’s scheme gets pressure from 4 guys on most snaps. What sets him apart is the flexibility in who the 4 th rushers are going to be. When JPP OR Suh drop back and LD, or DW shoot the gap. Not technically a blitz. It is effective because the OL has to figure out who’s coming as the ball is snapped. Add good timing , and DW blinding reaction speed equals lots of plays for a loss, IMO

  8. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Best D vs run, great pass rushers ( Barrett and JPP) , fastest inside LB’s in the game who are great at blitzing , = formula that makes Bucs D successful. The secondary , already pretty good, will be better this year with experience – barring injury, the Bucs’ D will dominate.

  9. Bucsfanman Says:

    Talented players and real coaching. What a wonderful time to be a Bucs fan!

    I don’t know if it’s so much blitzing, it’s aggressive. That’s what sets it apart from previous Buc defenses. Comparatively speaking, it is so much more fun to watch.

  10. SOEbuc Says:

    What is the Bucs ratio for blitzes resulting in sacks or yards for loss???

  11. webster Says:

    So if the bucs were ranked lets say 8th in blitzing would that mean Bowles reputation as a blitzer is still intact? Come on man

  12. SlyPirate Says:

    Devin White
    That % rate will increase in 2021. Devin White will be attacking QBs to close out games. Devin will finish the season with 12-15 sacks.

  13. 813bucboi Says:

    agree with @TBBF

    GO BUCS!!!!

  14. BillyBucoff Says:

    I think so too sly.
    If he does along with 150 tackles and like 4 picks he wins defensive player of the year.

  15. kaimaru Says:

    PFF contradicts this blitz rate:

    The ace in the hole for Tampa Bay’s pass rush all season was the blitz. Their 42.3% blitz rate on the year was the third-highest mark in the league — and they had success with it. Devin White led all off-ball linebackers in combined sacks and quarterback hits (13); he’s able to use his speed to cause problems as an extra rusher.

    The Buccaneers’ pass rush could have finished even higher on this list with a healthy Vita Vea. At the time of his injury in Week 5, Vea joined Aaron Donald as the only two interior defenders with a pass-rush win rate of 20.0% or higher on 100 pass-rushing snaps.

  16. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I’m not sure which stat to believe, but they got the job done!

  17. Mike Says:

    Blitzing and sending 5 or more players are different. You can blitz with only 4 by sending a Player who is supposed to drop.

    The Bucs actually was I the top teams before the bye last year. Our secondary unit was not too great to cover with fewer players