“I Trust Every Dude In This Room”

December 29th, 2022

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Brad Berlin’s on special assignment this week. Tampa Bay’s equipment director is busy ordering up big-boy pants for Sunday’s matchup against Carolina.

With first place in the NFC South at stake, the Bucs and Panthers will duke it out in the trenches at Raymond James Stadium. Carolina remained a game back of Tampa Bay by beating Detroit 37-23 behind an overwhelming ground attack that represents a stiff test for an erratic Buc rushing defense.

Will Gholston checks in with Ira. (Ira is on the right.)

“They ran for 320 on the ground last week, so the challenge this week is to stop it,” says veteran defensive end Will Gholston. “We’ve played them already and they ran the ball on us (173 yards in a 21-3 Panthers win) up there. We know our fundamentals and techniques. If we play like we’re supposed to play, I think we’ll have the results we want. It’s a playoff game to be honest with you. We need to win the next two to finish how we want to finish.”

Since their 2-7 start, the Panthers have established a winning formula under interim coach Steve Wilks: pound away on the ground, play sound defense and rely on a stellar kicking game to win the field position battle.

When the Panthers rush for at least 145 yards, they are 6-2. When the Panthers rush for less than 100 yards, they are 0-7.

Continuity up front has helped power a dynamic run game. Four offensive linemen have started all 15 games and center Bradley Bozeman has played well since Pat Elflein suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 6.

Todd Bowles has been studying Pittsburgh’s stifling defensive effort from Dec. 18, when the Steelers limited Carolina to 21 rushing yards at Charlotte.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do, who we are and our identity being a smash-mouth offense,” Bozeman said after Pittsburgh put the onus on quarterback Sam Darnold, who was sacked four times in a 24-16 setback.

With NFC Offensive Player of the Week D’Onta Foreman rumbling for 165 yards against the Lions, Carolina returned to its identity as one of the NFL’s most physical teams. While Tom Brady matches his age by averaging 45 pass attempts, Darnold averages only 22 throws through four starts and has yet to throw an interception.

“You knock them back, you stay in your gap and you make the play,” says Gholston. “They always have a hat on a hat on the offensive line, they work very well together and they know their scheme. They’re true to their scheme.”

Vita Vea’s presence would be welcome in a game of this magnitude and this physicality, but his status is uncertain after missing the past two games with a calf injury.

“I trust every dude in this room,” Gholston says. “Every single one of us is going to come to play.”

Like the Steelers, this Buc defense must rise to the challenge.

“A lot of it is fundamental football,” says Pittsburgh defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. “Just that mentality when teams tell you they’re going to run the ball when they bring big bodies in, you have to stand up in those situations.”

As their 6-9 record suggests, the Panthers are far from a complete team. Despite a robust run game, the Panthers convert an NFC-worst 29.4 percent on third down. Third-down defense has also been poor. Through 15 games, the trio of Darnold, Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker has combined for only 13 TD passes. Opponents average 4.4 yards per rushing attempt.

For Carolina, it’s all about establishing the run and imposing your will. The Bucs need to tackle well and remain disciplined up front, trusting defensive teammates to be in their proper gaps.

The Panthers have reduced this sport to its fundamental elements — blocking, tackling and physicality. If the Bucs want to wrap up the division and potentially rest some starters in Week 18, they must match Carolina’s aggressiveness in the trenches.

Hat on a hat. The hard hats win.

Hitch up those big-boy pants.

Ira with his good friend and JoeBucFan.com draft guru Sean Sullivan, general manager of Bill Currie Ford and host of the Best In Class podcast. Sean will help you personally in any way he can. Just ask!!!

17 Responses to ““I Trust Every Dude In This Room””

  1. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    I always love reading what IRA writes……

    ……but the state of this Bucs coaching staff is dysfunctional at best.

  2. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    The Panthers are a team that is playing hard and have turned their season around versus the Bucs are a team that seems to be getting worse!!!!!

  3. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Devin White has had a down year…..but the DTs and DEs lack of penitration is hurting this team tremendously.

    I miss SUH stuffing the middle.

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Stop the run…..Make Darnold pass….win the game.

  5. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    None one is talking about the defensively line this year not playing well……..

    Vita Vea and Suh was critical to the success of the LBs by getting double teamed and freeing up the LBs to make those tackles…..now this year the Bucs DTs are getting blown off the ball opening up holes for RBs.

    JTS is straight trash and is completely lost on the field.

    Leave Carl Nassib and Anthony Nelson in if they’re healthy enough to play all game long

  6. D-Rok Says:

    Has anyone heard if the new guy, Idengibo, will play at DL this week?

    We also added JJ Russell to our active roster, maybe just for this game.

    Panthers are down a starting CB, watch us run 50 times. Watch the Panthers pass all over the yard instead of power-running.

    Nothing would surprise me this game. Yes, I’m being facetious, slightly sarcastic and perhaps even some jaded satire. It’s gonna a be a doozy!!

    GO BUCS!!!

  7. Depressed 2022 Says:

    BUCS need to bring there A game… If not the season is over

  8. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ Depressed 2022


    Bruh…..the season is already over, but most Bucs fans are living in denial thinking their savior Tom Brady will save them.

    Poor coaching has 100% killed this team’s chances.

    No way these bucs win Sunday.

  9. Guinness8 Says:

    it would be nice to get an early lead in this one but i think we average something like 7 points in the first half so that may be asking to much.

  10. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    The Bucs offense:

    1. Run

    2. Run

    3. Bubble screen pass

    4. PUNT!!!!


  11. sasquatch Says:

    We’re just going to get hammered on the ground. Our run D hasn’t been strong for awhile. Need to find a way to get turnovers and get the offense to control the clock and score touchdowns.

  12. Alanbucsfan Says:

    On the money analysis by the Sage!

  13. SlyPirate Says:

    Wasn’t the first game against Carolina D White’s horrific game?

    Someone needs to remind him of this.

  14. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ SlyPirate

    Yeah, Devin White was consistently outta place and not maintaining gap control either

    …..but then again, the whole defense was getting shredded by PJ Walker too…….awful.

  15. Hodad Says:

    Brady throwing 45 times a game is misleading. Half of those pass attempts are behind the line of scrimmage. Might as well call them long handoffs.

  16. Goatfarmer Says:

    The Bucs need a miracle. They need the 2020 offense (last three regular season games) to show up. It won’t. The defense would ball out if the Bucs can get up with an early lead and force the game into Darnold’s hands.

    But it won’t happen because, Bowels.

  17. Ed Says:

    The one thing you can depend on when the Bucs play opponents with subs or backups, they don’t change their plays to attack less experienced guys. The play last week where Russell Gage just ran by a backup corner was ad-libbed. Brady pump fakes and waived Gage downfield and they finally made an explosive pass.

    Thats what I hate about this staff, it is ignorant to keep saying “we have to run better”. Thats what you figure out early in the season. After 15 games if you are the worst running team in the league but have the highest passing yardage or near the top then you need to make your passing game better.

    The Bucs have been doing way too much punting and kicking field goals this year.

    Bowles has made their offense completely defendable with all of the runs and short passes. They have guys like Evans and Godwin that can get downfield and make plays. Jones too. They just have to get the timing down. There are plays to be made if the coaches would work to the teams strength which is throwing the ball around.