A Toughness Test

October 5th, 2022

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The one asset the 2022 Buccaneers could count on most is suddenly under scrutiny.

Through three weeks, Tampa Bay’s defense displayed few flaws while opponents averaged nine points per game. But when Atlanta coach Arthur Smith watches film of Sunday night’s matchup against the Chiefs, he sees a defense that was bullied and outmuscled.

While Andy Reid is known as a creative play-caller, most of the damage came on simple, straight-ahead runs. KC’s overhauled offensive line dominated the trenches, making things far easier for Patrick Mahomes.

A redemption game coming up for the Bucs defense.

Mahomes worked his magic on several occasions and yes, he was just named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. But anyone who watched the game knows the Chiefs won the game up front.

On a night that saw K.C. convert 12-of-17 on third down, it was the results on first down that decided the outcome. How so?

The Chiefs handed the ball off 18 times in their 32 snaps on first down. They gained 98 yards on those 18 carries and eight times K.C. gained at least 7 yards or more. Twelve of those runs gained 5 yards or more. Only two of those carries gained less than 3 yards.

That’s how you maintain ball possession.

The Buc defense was challenged all night because Devin White and Lavonte David kept facing second-and-3 or third-and-2. Those are not winnable downs very often because, as Derrick Brooks points out, half your defensive playbook becomes obsolete in those situations.

So here come the 2-2 Falcons, one of the biggest surprises of the young NFL season. Can the Bucs drop three home games in a row? They sure can.

Heck, even the 2020 championship team lost to the Saints, Rams and Chiefs in successive home games.

Atlanta’s strength has been a robust ground game, led by Cordarrelle Patterson. Right guard Chris Lindstrom heads up a much-improved offensive line that just gouged the Browns. Patterson is now out with a knee injury, so Atlanta will turn to some young backs Sunday. Patterson’s absence is not going to change Atlanta’s offensive identity — the Falcons run the ball and they run it well, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 168 rushing yards per game.

Marcus Mariota averages less than 25 pass attempts and he’s not exactly surrounded by a bevy of weapons on the flanks. Stopping the run takes on added importance against Atlanta and normally, that would play to Tampa Bay’s advantage.


Kansas City’s rushing success was particularly disturbing because there was nothing fancy about the formations or the calls. The Chiefs lined up and manhandled the guy in front of them.

“Pushed aside,” writes Ira Kaufman.

Vita Vea was pushed aside. Rakeem Nuñez-Roches was lost on his run fits. Will Gholston was overpowered. The Chiefs ran 37 times and those three linemen combined for only 8 tackles.

Let’s not hear any more chatter about little kids running down hallways or construction noise at the team hotel. The Chiefs, who are not known as a dynamic running team, de-constructed the Bucs up front.

Todd Bowles is spending this week preaching physicality because the Falcons intend to punch Tampa Bay in the mouth. It shouldn’t work because the Bucs have far better talent, especially under center. Still, you never know.

Heading into Week 5, these teams have the same record. The Falcons have been in every game and they’ve established an identity: here we come on the ground … try to stop us.

The soft part of the schedule suddenly doesn’t look so soft.

At this point, Mariota hasn’t been asked to do much. It’s time for the Bucs to pump up his workload.

Ira loves that lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles!

16 Responses to “A Toughness Test”

  1. D-Rok Says:

    We’ll see what this year’s Bucs team is made of this week. Can they toughen up and be physical? Let’s hope so.

  2. Old School Bucs Says:

    I suspect the Defense will be so full of piss and vinegar after listening to what a bunch of pussies they were against the chiefs Atlanta will not be happy about the reception they get. You can call football players a lot of things and it will roll of their shoulders, but call them pu**ies and you will get a completely different reaction. It is usually ugly for the opponent.

    Expect Brady to set up the run with the pass on sunday. I expect a massive game from Brady, the wide receivers and fournette. Fournette will get his yardage in the second half

  3. Duane Says:

    Traditionally, The Dirty Birds are the get right game on the schedule. They have overachieved so far this season, but the talent does not match up, and if they cant get the run going, Mariota is going to have to make plays, which historically does not happen. I think the defense returns to form, and we get our first, full team effort of the season.

  4. Says:

    Ko Kieft.

  5. Kansas95Bucs Says:

    Personally, I think not having a guy like Suh/JPP is killing the D. No offense to the players but in order for us to be good, we need players that is good against the run

  6. Buczilla Says:

    Our defense was embarrassed and it was difficult to watch. If the falcons are able to run the ball effectively on Sunday, it’s going to be a long season.

  7. Goatfarmer Says:

    Todd Bowles faced the toughest challenge of the season against the Chiefs, and prepared his guys well enough to be so pillow soft, it was embarrassing to watch. It was a disgrace. To be manhandled that soundly, it brings into question whether anyone on the field on defense had any pride. At all.

    Why should there be any confidence at all in Bowles or his pillow soft collection of overrated, over-coddled, poor tackling, assignment botching, self-absorbed group of leaderless ninnies who couldn’t even stop an average at best Chiefs rushing attack? Or anyone else’s rushing attack this season?

    And you know when the Bucs get the ball on offense, Byron will call for one-legged Lenny to try to fit his injured behind through holes that Twiggy wouldn’t fit through sideways after a bulemia binge. Over and over again until we are behind by 17 points.

    This is a bad joke. Well at least Bowels had them working on the things they need to correct today.

    Oh, wait.

  8. Crickett Baker Says:

    There hasn’t been much to laugh at so that Twiggy comparison was a welcome (tho short-lived) reprieve. Enjoyed the article, Ira.

  9. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Well I guess it just needs to be said again on this JBF blog- SUH

    Anyone can say what they want, but the Run D has not been the same through 4 weeks, the heck with the stats overall the first qtr of the season.

    Andy Reid saw it, just like a lot of unbiased fans have, that the Run D has not been the same, and the Chiefs blew a hole in the side of the good ship Buccaneer.

    It looks like Vea is not the same without SUH in there, “Pushed Aside” ?
    Not when SUH was here.

    And HIcks? How many games will he actually play? And how many until Hicks is back on the sideline with his body betraying like it does?

    OK Let’s see, how many games has SUH missed in his career?
    OH that would be Zero games missed.

    Life after SUH so far means they are not as strong up front, and the Chiefs made sure everyone else knows it too.

    Phil Collins hit song from 1985 basically sums it up. Sussudio lol


    GO BUCS!!!!!

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Goatfarmer … You’re not gonna let that ‘lacking pride’ bone go, are you. It’s NOT about pride; it’s about the guy in front of you being stronger, more talented, more durable than you are. Right now Bowles doesn’t have the horses in the trenches to keep smashmouth OLines from eating their lunch.

    Vea is playing soft; that’s not about pride, he’s just soft & can’t effectively give us more than about 50% def snaps per game. Hicks isn’t doing us a danged bit of good sitting on the bench; he’s injured, that’s not about pride. Gholston & RNR are excellent fill-ins, but they haven’t been starters for a reason, and lacking pride’s not that reason. Senat & O’Connor are strictly emergency single-game backups. And Logan Hall has no business playing in the center of this DLine at this point in his career. Someone needs to tell Jason Licht that Hall will never be the 2nd coming of Aaron Donald; he’s closer to being a Will Gholston type (put some weight on him then MAYBE he can play inside; other than that, he’s a better DE than DT).

    Last season the Cowboys showed all other teams the blueprint for beating the Bucs: we were reasonably solid against the run but vulnerable to the pass. This year the Chiefs showed everyone else that the reverse is true, and our upcoming opponents will exploit that UNTIL we shut it down. We don’t have the beasts up-front right now to do that against teams with quality OLines. Jason Licht needs to swallow his pride & ego and find another beast to throw in the mix. I vote for Suh, but at least find SOMEONE JL.

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Oh and Goatfarmer, instead of picking on Todd Bowles, why don’t you jump on Jason Licht instead. He IS the Bucs GM, and last I remember, GMs were responsible for acquiring talent, not the HC.

    Julio Jones was given a 1-year contract for $6 mil … that’s probably close to what it would’ve taken to sign Suh. Russell Gage was given a 3-year contract at $10 mil per year … could’ve easily gotten Suh for that, with change to spare. And don’t get me started on re-signing Vea to a $17.5 mil per year, 4-year contract. I love him as a player, but JL grossly overpaid him and it hurt what we could afford to pay for the rest of the DLine.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Great article BTW on the Chiefs SBNation ‘Arrowhead Pride’ website titled ‘Film review: The Chiefs’ offense aggressively attacked Tampa Bay’s defense’. Here’s their bottom line:

    ‘This game was a result of an aggressive game plan married to an (always) aggressive quarterback. Specifically in the passing game, receivers were schemed open more than in Week 3 — and if they weren’t, Mahomes seemed more prepared (or perhaps willing) to take a shot anyway. That could have been the result of improved pass protection.’

  13. Georger Says:

    Over reaction. The first 3 weeks the team gives up less than 10 points a game. Now the sky is falling. They had a bad game it happens.

  14. garro Says:

    I suddenly realized that better than half the people here dont know who twiggy is/was LOL

  15. Goatfarmer Says:

    Coaching lost the Packers game.

    Poor preparation (coaching) and poor execution (a function of poor coaching) combined with physical annhilation, lost the Chiefs game.


    Todd is the head coach. Maybe he can’t do much when his troops get physically annihilated but he’s accountable for the rest. Hope he can get Logan Ryan a new foot. The defense apparently can’t plY without him.

  16. Your Mom Says:

    The disrupted routine was a big factor. Also the Chiefs are very good and may win the Super Bowl. Atlanta will not. So the Bucs will probably crush them. If not then there really is a problem to look at.