The Saving Grace

December 8th, 2022

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The men behind the man are doing one heck of a job.

Todd Bowles can’t possibly commit as much time to Tampa Bay’s defense since he ascended to head coach. While he is still responsible for crafting defensive game plans, Bowles is too busy putting out organizational fires to devote all his time to one side of the football.

As a result, Bowles has been forced to place more trust in his defensive assistants. They have responded in impressive fashion. Take a bow, defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers.

Inside linebackers coach Larry Foote.

Job well done, inside linebackers coach Larry Foote.

Nice going, outside linebackers coach Bob Sanders.

Keep grinding, cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross.

Don’t change a thing, safeties coach Nick Rapone.

Buc fans don’t want to imagine what this team would look like with an ordinary defense. Tampa Bay hasn’t topped 21 points in any of the club’s six wins and Monday night’s victory against New Orleans was a prime-time example of defensive excellence.

Through 56 minutes, Tom Brady’s group put up three points and turned the ball over twice … yet the Bucs were still in range.

That’s because the Saints were stymied in the red zone, settling for field goals. That’s because the Saints couldn’t establish a credible ground game. That’s because New Orleans went 5-for-14 on third down.

This group of assistants has adapted nicely to a revolving door of defenders at One Buc Place, especially in the secondary. Logan Ryan has missed seven games. Akiem Hicks has suited up only half the time. Shaq Barrett will miss his fifth consecutive game on Sunday at San Francisco. Sean Murphy-Bunting has missed four games and Antoine Winfield Jr. has missed three.

Instead of sulking, this defensive staff dug a little deeper, getting young players up to speed out of necessity. For example, fifth-round pick Zyon McCollum played on 69 percent of the defensive snaps against New Orleans.

When it comes to pass defense, few teams can match the Bucs across the board. Tampa Bay ranks fourth with 38 sacks and ninth with 75 QB hits. Opponents average just 195 yards per game through the air — only six defenses are stingier. Opposing QBs average 6.6 yards per pass attempt — only four defenses are better.

Here’s the stat that puts it all in perspective: Bowles and company have now reeled off 26 consecutive regular-season games without allowing a 300-yard passer, dating back to Week 3 last year against the Rams.

In this season alone, Buc defenders have had to face down Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Matt Stafford and Lamar Jackson. The Bucs went 2-3 in those matchups, despite yielding an average of only 19.6 points.

Bucs depth has past the test and reflected its coaching, including rookie corner Zyon McCollum.

When games kick off, this defense is primed to kick some ass. Coaches are putting players in position to succeed because of all the work they put in during preparation.

And all the while, this offense plods along.

In no way have we seen complementary football in Tampa. If a mutiny broke out between the offense and defense behind the pirate ship, there would be just cause.

Here’s another example:

En route to a 6-6 record, Tampa Bay has held seven opponents to seven points or less in the opening half. In five of those games, the opposition scored three points or fewer in the first two quarters.

But even with all that stellar work on the other side of the ball, the Bucs have enjoyed a halftime lead only four times this season. That’s football malpractice.

On Sunday, the Buc defense will meet its match. The 49ers shut out the Saints two weeks ago and hounded Tua Tagovailoa into three giveaways on Sunday. If the Buc attack remains stale, this matchup could get out of hand in a hurry. Once again, it figures to be Buc defenders to the rescue.

That’s alright. They’re used to it.

Ira loves that lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles!

WATCH THE BUCS-49ERS game Sunday with Ira Kaufman at Big Storm Brewery in Clearwater – 12707 49th St North.

Great covered outdoor seating, and indoors, too. Kickoff at 4:25 p.m. Sage Ira rolls in at 4 p.m. Talks Bucs with Ira and drink Florida’s best craft beer and maul the excellent menu.

31 Responses to “The Saving Grace”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Kudos Ira, great article. You did forget though to cue all the Bowles-haters who want him fired yesterday, without accounting for also losing your DC in the process.

  2. Mark Says:

    The insane thing is we are two miracle comebacks by Brady away from a truly dismal 4 and 8 record. This team should be better, much better than it is and coaching is the #1 reason it is not.

  3. Casual Observer Says:

    I agree. Some excellent points about our D. Now unleash the O.

  4. Kentucky Buc Says:

    You guys can defend Bowles all you want . He killed this offense intentionally to play some demented form of 1980s football. 6-6 6-6 6-6 . Great fn job. It’s obvious . What happened in the Chiefs game when they got down big . Suddenly Bucs had an offense. Last of the Rams game ? Saints ? It’s obvious. Grow some balls.

  5. bucsbrady Says:

    I want Brady to play good enough so there is a market for him. I am not sure anybody will even want Brady. Brady is now labeled as a guy with baggage because of the whole Gisele fiasco. Every day there is a new rumor about Brady. Brady lost 27 pounds before the start of the season over the divorce. Gisele hadnt had this much PR since the mid 00’s. It was actually good for getting her name out there again.

  6. zzbucs Says:

    I agree with 99% of this article Uncle Ira.
    My only “difference” is on CB…. I will keep on saying our CB are average at best, because they can play really good or really bad…Last game Mc Collum, and Carlton D, played like sh*t both…..

    Carlton Davis with al due respect, I can’t see how bucs fans love him so much…..
    Dean is VERY inconsistent so as Murphy B….

    The rest of the defense is really good!!!

  7. TexasBucsFan Says:

    The column highlights the lackluster coaching on the offensive side of the ball. Whether it is the head coach or the offensive coach, this type of offensive system is not working..Things have to change, if the bucs want a super bowl victory. This current system is running on a flat tire.

  8. Alanbucsfan Says:

    JTS vs Trent Williams is a recipe for disaster. Purdy is effective when he escapes containment and rolls out and he likes intermediate throws over the middle.
    And 49ers will run wild on Bucs if JTS/Williams matchup happens.

  9. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Thanks Ira, for recognizing the much unheralded group of defensive assistants…..
    They do a great job.
    Our defense has kept us in most games when our offense has been impotent.

  10. Jmarkbuc Says:


    There is no excuse for what happened in Cleveland.

  11. BucU Says:

    Bowles hater here reporting for duty!

  12. CChead Says:

    Todd Blowes is the “HEAD COACH”. And not a good one.
    Good job on defense but where is the accountability on “HIS” offense. You need to score points to win. Instead “HE” plays scared.
    Might throw an interception.
    Defense will get tired if you run a hurry up offense once in a while.
    Special teams will get tired if you run a hurry up.
    Left tackle is hurt, can’t run hurry up. Which is top 5 in the league.
    Instead lets go 3 n out and punt over and over. That won’t wear out the D.

  13. HC Grover Says:

    This is just plain stupid organizing….Thanks Bucco. Now go away.

  14. ben Says:

    Bowles took down a very good offense to play scared so he not a good head coach

  15. Redeemer Says:

    On 7 occasions the bucs D has held teams under their PPG average. 5 times they’ve given up more. They haven’t played a bunch of good offenses, but they’ve played well enough to have a much better record.

  16. Don’t make a scene 35 Says:

    Your just wrong!
    Dean has been one of the most consistent defensive players this year
    Not sure what your watching
    He did have a little bit of off game vs Saints Monday night but hen has had a solid year
    Go Bucs

  17. Goatfarmer Says:

    The Bowels of Toad must be flushed.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    Jmarkbuc … Not making excuses for anyone. Just reminding folks that if you fire Todd Bowles the head coach you also fire Todd Bowles the defensive coordinator. I’ve said from the very start that dual-hatting is almost always a major organizational mistake. The only way it works is if his counterpart (BL in this case) is exceptionally strong & able to function with no or at least minimal oversight. That’s not Byron (as BA found out, then saddled Bowles with him).

  19. Carl L Says:

    What? Anyone notice wide open Saints receivers dropped at least 10 passes . Is that due to the great play of our defense? Our coaches must have missed the game. White was in on 3 plays the whole game. None were pass coverage. Did Foote see that?

  20. Mike Johnson Says:

    Sure are a lot of Bowles and Leftwich haters in Buc Country. I mean, its almost a civil war kind of h ate

  21. ClwJB Says:

    Why doesn’t he unleash the O the same way he does his D?

    He is a loser as a HC, he doesn’t have it – he doesn’t motivate his team or anyone else – that Saints post game “speech” was another prime example

    This is the NFL, the players know who they have – we will have to win in spite of him

    Keep the assistants and let him move on and take Byron with him

  22. Redeemer Says:

    DR, you don’t think they have the talent to play a different defense? So long as the new prospective DC is competent, I think they’d be fine. While I accept the 3-4 is the better run D scheme, this is a passing league. Nickel is the new base.

  23. HC Grover Says:

    The moral of this story is….never make your defense coach the head coach while he is still the defense coach. This is not complicated but the problems of making this blunder are.
    This coach situation in Tampa is just bewildering. What is Bowlzos job? Anyone?? What is his job description….Bucco GTFO.

  24. Defense Rules Says:

    Redeemer … I thought I read that the Bucs were in nickel over 70% of the time.

  25. Redeemer Says:

    Of course, I didn’t mean they run base 3-4 all the time DR. My point was the talent is there to play a 4-3 30% of the time. I don’t think this defense would fall off a cliff with Bowles. They have two excellent linebackers, and a good secondary. Plenty of good D coordinators would drool over the different things they could do.

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    CLWjb … ‘Why doesn’t he unleash the O the same way he does his D?’

    Got any SPECIFICS? What SPECIFICALLY has Todd Bowles directed BL to do that you would change?

    What I’m seeing is an offense that’s horrible at running the ball. And that’s more than likely why they run it LESS than any team in the league. I’m also seeing an offense that isn’t hitting the deep (and intermediate) routes at but a fraction of the frequency they did in 2019-2021. And oh ya, also seeing a horrible lack of explosive plays this year.

    So what SPECIFICALLY is Bowles doing that’s causing that? Witch hunts are fine, but you’d better find the right witch or nothing will change.

  27. Defense Rules Says:

    Redeemer … You might be right, but I think they play 4 DLinemen probably 30% now. I remember when Tony Dungy was here, and the common complaint was that his offenses sucked. He went through several different OCs (3 or 4), but they still sucked for the most part. Personally I thought it was because our QBs & OLines were meh. Tony goes to Indy, with Tom Moore & Peyton Manning, and voila, a Super Bowl (and some very good other years too). Changing OC (and QB & OLine in that case) made all the difference.

  28. unbelievable Says:

    Not sure Zyon McCollum is a great example… dude looks completely lost and falls down on 25% of plays.

  29. JimmyfromNY Says:

    Some of your trolls make me laugh you’re ready to move on from Brady? You’re ready to play trask for an NFL season. Are you ready for 2-3 win seasons, a tran no one cares about . Brady has baggage? Where do you make this stuff up? there’s not a more respected football player in the league , coaches, players love love them. He’s divorced. Now it’s all about football for the next few years. There’s absolutely zero baggage. You’re out of your mind if you don’t think teams will be lining up the end of the season to get him
    in there for two or three years. You guys deserve the miser your about to get once he leaves. Lol I’m convinced the Brady trolls don’t have IQ is higher than 75. You really can’t make this stuff up.

  30. Redeemer Says:

    Jimmy, yeah the Brady haters use special logic. I’ll give them this, they hated him before he arrived, and they still hate him. I actually have more respect for those folks, then the people who called Brady a cheater and conveniently changed their position because of a laundry change. On the list of problems on the offense, Brady is as far down the list as you can get. What bothers me is they think everyone who appreciates what he’s accomplished are Patriots fans.

  31. Buczilla Says:

    Bowles is a damn good, maybe even great at times defensive coordinator, but he is gods awful as a head coach. My dumb butt wanted Byron as our head coach, but I was fine with Todd getting the job and thought that he would be solid at worst. Epic stupidity on my part and proves that I’d be a lost lamb in making football decisions. Thus far, ownership and the front office have screwed the pooch by promoting Todd and retaining Byron as the offensive coordinator. I don’t blame the owners, but some blame belongs on the experts in the front office who believed that this was a good idea. There is some time left to make some waves in a good way, but right now I am beyond pi$$ed and disappointed at how the season has gone so far.