Todd Bowles’ Easiest And Most Important Fix

June 11th, 2022

Click on through to shop at Bill Currie Ford GM Sean Sullivan is ready to help you PERSONALLY and give you the Ira Kaufman discount. Just ask!


Derrick Brooks has long bemoaned the poor state of tackling in the National Football League. Todd Bowles feels his pain.

The new head coach of the Buccaneers isn’t happy about all those extra yards receivers compiled against Tampa Bay in 2021. Poor angles, poor technique, poor hustle — you name it.

In his exclusive podcast with JoeBucsFan, Bowles pulled no punches when describing the defense’s struggles to efficiently bring ball carriers to the ground.

“Overall I thought it was average,” Bowles said of last season’s tackling. “… We weren’t very good especially in the second half of the season. Some games I thought it was terrible.”

The Bucs allowed 2,420 yards after the catch last season. Only five teams yielded more, but let’s remember no club faced more pass attempts than Tampa Bay.

Bucs fans and coaches want to celebrate great tackling this season.

Still, Bowles is hacked off by what he saw on tape all too often, capped by the brutal playoff loss to the Rams.

While there’s no single culprit for this issue, inside linebacker Devin White was a serial offender. And on the occasions White failed to wrap up, there weren’t enough teammates around the football to limit the damage.

That’s not the way Buc fans remember the halcyon days of Tampa Bay defense, when Monte Kiffin would rail against loafing and continually emphasize swarming to the ball as a pack.

Those were the days when Brooks, John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Shelton Quarles took turns limiting catches to minimum gains.

It surely helps to have Hall of Fame defenders, but Bowles is frustrated because he knows his guys can do better. It’s a league-wide issue and NFL safety rules have helped make proper tackling a lost art.

New Era

Limitations on padded practices don’t help the cause.

Bucs safety Keanu Neal (along with safety/corner Logan Ryan) is known for elite tackling.

“There’s nothing you can do in shorts to fix tackling,” Bruce Arians said.

Back in 2016, after the Bucs yielded 626 yards to the Raiders in a mind-boggling OT setback at Raymond James Stadium, an exasperated Dirk Koetter vented his frustration.

“These guys know how to tackle,” Koetter said. “We just have to do a better job of it. You’re not going to work on it during the season, that’s for sure.”

The Buc secondary didn’t exactly distinguish itself in terms of tackling last season. Way too many 7-yard hitches ended up as 15-yard completions.

Tampa Bay allowed only five receptions of 40 yards or more during the regular season — only two teams were more stingy. As Bowles notes, the Bucs did a very good job of not letting passes sail over their heads.

The problem was too many short completions went for too many additional yards. Perhaps the additions of Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal, veteran defensive backs with a reputation for solid tackling skills, will help the cause this fall.

YAC Gauntlet Ahead

The Bucs are far from the only NFL club bedeviled by tackling concerns. It’s a league-wide problem, much to the delight of receivers who thrive in the open field like Cooper Kupp.

The Bucs will need to tackle Travis Kelce and many elite yards-after-catch artists this season.

In four career games against the Bucs, Kupp has averaged 9 1-2 catches and 136 receiving yards. Many of those yards have come after the initial completion.

“There’s no need for a man to get outside of you if you have help inside of you,” says Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who oversaw Tampa Bay’s defensive backfield during the 2002 championship season. “You have to understand the knowledge of the help. We have to keep the ball constricted and part of it is knowledge as much as it is physical.”

In other words, play smarter.

Among his priorities during training camp, Bowles will focus extensively on better tackling outcomes after completions. That’s especially critical in a season when the Bucs face seven of the NFL’s Top 10 players in most yards after the catch — Kupp, Deebo Samuel, Ja’Marr Chase, Travis Kelce, Diontae Johnson, Mecole Hardman and Najee Harris.

Hustle. Swarm. Wrap up.

For Todd Bowles, words to live by.

Yes, that warranty includes USED vehicles!
Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

10 Responses to “Todd Bowles’ Easiest And Most Important Fix”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    “Halcyon Days”…….very nice description….a word I haven’t heard in a while.

  2. Bush's Coke Spoon Says:

    “Todd Bowles’ Easiest And Most Important Fix”

    Don’t blitz Stafford.

  3. PSL Bob Says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I got so frustrated last year when we could have avoided our opponents getting first downs because of poor tackling. I’m happy Bowles is going to address it this year.

  4. dasaazter Says:

    IRA KAUFMAN discount at bill curry ford is as a legend says number one BULLSH#$t i bought a 2022 f150 from them in april,no discount for me just saying

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    Interesting tidbit in there from Mike Tomlin about understanding where your help is on each play. I would assume that ‘chemistry’ has a lot to do with that understanding. Last year it seemed like we fielded a different Secondary in every game, and I’m sure some of them had limited ‘chemistry’ in working with the others.

    Gut feel is that’s what made our Secondary looks so good in the 2020 playoffs. Every game (except 1) our Secondary starters were: Davis, Dean, SMB, Whitehead, Winfield. And in that 1 playoff game (Green Bay), Edwards took Whitehead’s spot as a starter. Bucs only started 5 in the Secondary on 4 regular season games that year, yet we did it in all 4 playoff games.

  6. captivajim Says:

    white is a Mouth ,,,, & a penalty problem……

  7. August 1976 Buc Says:

    The Pass Rush made the secondary look good in the 2020 playoffs.

    GO BUCS!!!

  8. Irishmist Says:


  9. Bush's Coke Spoon Says:

    Irishmist Says:

    On to the Finals! Go Bolts!

  10. Goatfarmer Says:

    Gee. Who was the Bucs defensive coordinator last year?

    Todd scares me. Diva White is overrated.