Crazy Run Defense Numbers

July 14th, 2022

Bucs coach Todd Bowles.

This is a stat Joe didn’t realize until listening to a former NFL suit discuss the Bucs defense.

Did you know the Bucs did not allow a rushing touchdown over 20 yards last year? The Bucs were fifth in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed (11) and all were under 20 yards.

Michael Lombardi, the former Browns general manager and a former coffee fetcher for Bill Walsh, Al Davis and Bill Belicheat, said the Tampa Bay run defense is so good that he believes it is useless trying to run on it, specifically in the red zone.

“It is a wasted play running it on them in the red zone, it really is,” Lombardi said on a recent edition of his podcast “GM Shuffle.”You have three plays before you kick the field goal unless you are Brandon Staley and you go for it on fourth down. You only have three plays and [against the Bucs’ red zone defense] you know you are wasting a play if you run it.”

Burning the Bucs is far easier through the air. Yeah, the Bucs have three or four top-shelf defensive backs but that secondary was too thin last year.

This is why Joe thinks Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht went out and got safety/cornerback Logan Ryan and safety Keanu Neal. The Bucs know teams are going to come out firing through the air. So now Licht and Todd Bowles have extra solid, veteran bodies to help withstand the barrages.

23 Responses to “Crazy Run Defense Numbers”

  1. Dooley Says:

    Undermentioned achievement, would be Bowles taking over a defense that ranked 32nd in 2018 and turned it into the 5th overall defense in the league in 2019, but that 2019 defense was so good against the run they were ranked 11th in NFL history.

  2. SB Says:

    Man!!! Is it September yet?
    Speculation Season is old and tired right now.

    “Wake me up when September comes” Instead of “ends”

  3. Joe Says:


    Not sure what you expect in mid-July? Bucs haven’t played a game since the winter. Draft happened in April. Players and coaches are on vacation. You really expect Joe to shut this site down until September?

  4. CleanHouse Says:

    Best run defense- wake up, that’s over now, Suh and JPP were pompously discarded

    Best o-line, sorry that ship sailed too… tired of hearing all the hype. Both guards gone

    30 plus points a game-blah blah blah no Gronk, no Godwin, no AB

    Was enjoyable while it lasted

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘Bucs were fifth in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed and all were under 20 yards. The Bucs’ defense coughed up 11 rushing touchdowns last season.’

    Stats like that are interesting IMO, but only if viewed in the ‘bigger picture’. IOW what does it REALLY tell you about the team’s defense overall? Was our run defense so good that opponents abandoned the run because passing against us gave them a much better chance of scoring? Did focusing on stopping the run as much as we do, combined with our propensity to blitz more than most, negatively impact our pass defense by leaving large gaps in coverage?

    I’m not smart enough to answer questions like that, but the bottom line to me always comes down to Points Allowed for a defense. And along those lines, Todd Bowles has done an incredible job IMO since arriving in 2019. Rankings …

    o Least Rush Yardage Allowed: 2019: #1 … 2020: #1 … 2021: #3
    o Least Rushing Attempts Allowed: 2019: #4 … 2020: #1 … 2021: #1
    o Least Passing Yardage Allowed: 2019: #30 … 2020: #21 … 2021: #26
    o Least Passing Attempts Allowed: 2019: #32 … 2020: #29 … 2021: #31
    o Most Blitzes on season: 2019: #2 … 2020: #2 … 2021: #1
    o Least Total Points Allowed: 2019: #29 … 2020: #8 … 2021: #5

    Todd’s strategy seems to be working: shut down the run, and keep the pressure on via the blitz. Also seems to be an emphasis in there on not allowing explosive plays and on creating turnovers (we’ve also done very well in both categories since 2019).

    Of course it does help your run defense quite a bit when you have players like Vea, Suh, Gholston, JPP & Shaq who were all very good at playing the run AND keeping the pressure on.

  6. Bucsfanman Says:

    Dooley- A LOT of people forget just how bad that defense was pre-Bowles. We’ve gotten so spoiled that we’re whining about a team that finished 13-4 last season and a defense that made teams one-dimensional. Literally a feat that EVERY DC looks to accomplish.

    If these three words don’t make Buc fans wince, you haven’t been paying attention:
    “Press Box Smitty”!!!

  7. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Common sense, Bucs have (had) a great front 7 and stopping the run was obviously Bowles main focus. Two things, YES teams abandoned the run and #2 Bowles didn’t put enough effort into the secondary. Many on this site write about more balance on O, how about more balance on D? This secondary made A LOT of mediocre QB’s look like Pro Bowlers.

  8. geno711 Says:

    Well said Bucsfan and DR.

  9. August 1976 Buc Says:

    List……”This secondary made A LOT of mediocre QB’s look like Pro Bowlers”

    Yes thats exactly why they were #1 in least rushing attempts allowed. Why run the ball when Bucs secondary is playing Swiss cheese D, with the “play 10 yards back on 3rd and 4” Corner back coverage.
    Hey let’s concede a first down just by alignment by the Corner backs, insanity.

    How do you get a pass rush with that crappy off coverage?

    With the new blood brought in, I hope the secondary is better. But if not, they will not be winning the Super Bowl. If the secondary steps up, the Bucs are contenders, if not, it will not end well again.

    GO BUCS!!!!

  10. Eckwood Says:

    Can we please bring Suh back as a special tone setting defensive asst and game day Captain in charge of the player captains !! #Suhforeverycointoss !!! Best Def Leader / tempo setter / locker room toner since Hardy Nickerson !!

  11. Goatfarmer Says:


  12. geno711 Says:

    Not so sure the Bucs pass defense was Swiss cheese last year.

    Good and Bad of Bucs Pass Defense last year:

    @ Good: Allowed only 5 passes over 40 yards == 3rd best in league

    @Bad: Allowed 55 passes over 20 yards == 10th worst in league.

    @Good: Allowed a 1st down on only 31.5 percent of passing plays. 4th best.

    @Bad: Allowed total of 214 1st downs. 10th worst in league.

    @Good: 17 interceptions. Tied for 7th best in the league.

    @Good: Allowed 6.4 yards per pass attempt. Tied for 2nd best in League.

    Allowed 26 TDs: Tied for 13th best in the league.
    Passer Rating: 85.6. 8th best in the league.

    Not a great passing defense but some players or coaches somewhere within this team are doing many things better than the rest of the NFL to have those numbers

  13. Dooley Says:


    That’s pretty decent for a team that more often than not, discourages opposing offenses from running and forces them into a 1-dimesional plan of attack(Like the Colts & Bills). It’ll be really interesting to see how our defense responds to all the new talent, the loss of some talent, another year in the same system, and a reasonably clean bill of health.

  14. Allbuccedup Says:

    Agree with August 1976 almost every Buc win was a shootout after the lost to the Rams Brady is going to have the winning TD with virtually no time left on the clock. No need to run against the Bucs.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Geno711 … Excellent analysis. Historically even Super Bowl teams aren’t ‘good’ at everything any longer; I suspect that the salary CAP prevents teams from having a stacked 53-man roster & thus compromises need to be made. Heck last year’s SB winner, the Rams, were quite solid yet their offense ranked #7 & their defense ranked #15. The runner-up Bengals also ranked #7 offensively yet their defense was #17. Even though both defenses were middle-of-the-pack, they both did exceptionally well in the playoffs. Never hurts to get hot (and healthy) at the right time.

  16. Peskajumba Says:

    Half a decade of Jameis and still don’t get how misleading stats and rankings can be. If you watch the games and still believe the pass defense is one of the best… I don’t get that.

  17. geno711 Says:


    This article was giving props to the run defense. I agree with that. It has been our strength. It’s just that someone suggesting that our defense was Swiss cheese made no sense to me.

    The NFL as it currently stands is a passing league. Pretty much all defenses have 12-15 games a year where their pass defense looks like it gives up lots of plays during the game.

    My numbers were meant to give context. If context as compared to 31 other NFL teams does not matter at all to you and your eyeball analysis is all you want to consider; That is fine — I do get that.

  18. August 1976 Nuc Says:

    Put out all the stats you like. lol Knock yourself out lol But like I said before, if the secondary does not improve, then the 2022 season will not end well, just like 2021 did not.

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  19. BillyBucco Says:

    Well said Geno
    It gets tiring when we complain about every play.
    It’s not always poor play from one unit.

    Gotta be willing to give props to the other team.
    Context is lost with fans who want to win and are unwilling to concede.

  20. August 1976 Buc Says:

    You can paint the picture anyway you like with stats. But mabye go back and watch the games. Swiss cheese is a very appropriate adjective for what the secondary displayed last year, for all to see. Cb’s back pedaling on a 3 rd and short, time and again it becomes “stealing candy from a baby” for opposing Qb’s to pick easy first downs. And not just 3rd downs, but in general they play so far off, it hinders the pass rush. Why do they not, chuck the receiver at the line of scrimmage, and disrupt the timing of the QB- WR? The difference in getting sacs is many times a split second.
    All those stats putting are just putting make-up on the bad secondary play and still it equals getting beat. And the cherry on the cake of the secondarys play is Stafford’s dagger shot against the secondary for the Bucs to get kicked to the curb to end the 2021 season. Again knock yourself out with all the stats if you like. But the secondary either improves or the 2022 season will not end well.
    Do I hope the secondary improves, of course I do like any other fan, but time will tell. I can hear Derrick Brooks now saying years ago ” you get what you deserve” Derrick tried to make no justifications for bad play with various stats. All the more why he is in the HOF today.

    GO BUCS!!!!

  21. LakelandSteve Says:

    I believe the addition of Logan Ryan may be the biggest free agent signing of the off season. I know people are going to say Shaq Mason and he is an excellent signing. Ryan knows defense and he recognizes what the other teams offense is trying to run when they line up. That type of football smarts is going to make a tremendous difference for this defense. It may take a few games but don’t be surprised if Tampa’s pass defense is reminiscent of the pass defense we saw at the end of the season through the playoff run to the Super Bowl.

  22. Buczilla Says:

    With one good outside corner, I’m brimming with confidence, lol.

  23. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Winston, Simeon, Zach Wilson, Heinike, Carson Wentz, Mac Jones, Strafford (twice), Hurts (game 1), even Dak & Ryan are mediocre, need I say more? Which one of these are HOF material?