“It’s Like Learning Trigonometry On The Fly”

July 14th, 2023

Richard Sherman speaks.

Joe now has a better understanding of why Todd Bowles wanted versatile cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting back for the 2023 season.

(Instead, SMB is with the Titans, where he got the opportunity he was seeking.)

The Buccaneers’ defense is so darn complex and a guy with the smarts of SMB was a super-valuable cog.

Joe brings this up because former Bucs cornerback Richard Sherman was barking on his podcast about how difficult the Bowles defense is to learn. Keep in mind Sherman went to Stanford and had over a decade of NFL experience when he landed with the Bucs.

“To be able to move around in that defense is just insanity. It’s like learning Trigonometry on the fly,” Sherman said.

He wasn’t just blowing smoke; he was in a conversation with Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield, Jr., who agreed with him.

Winfield said he’s “happy” to not be moving around the secondary this season. “It’s cool to just be able to focus on the free safety role,” he said.

Winfield acknowledged his football brain was on overload in 2022, when he primarily was a nickel cornerback.

“It’s different when you’re man to man in the slot with all that space (laughs). It’s insane,” Winfield said. “It was a fun year, just to be able to learn the entire back end of the defense because I had to be everywhere. And so I feel like it was a great learning curve for me.”

Joe wonders if the complexity of the defense is a reason the Bucs didn’t draft a slot cornerback in the draft.

Yes, Joe realizes Bowles developed several young defensive backs successfully during his Bucs tenure. But that required more than one season. This year is a clear win-now situation for Bowles’ head coaching career, so perhaps he didn’t want a rookie nickel corner getting swallowed up by a steep learning curve.

20 Responses to ““It’s Like Learning Trigonometry On The Fly””

  1. Allen Lofton Says:

    Hopefully, Todd Bowles grows into the role of a good Head Coach – he’s smart enough given he’s the mastermind behind the Bucs Defensive scheme.

  2. Pewter Power Says:

    Bowles can’t afford to tank. Washington commanders had Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen as the in season quarterbacks and they managed to make the playoffs in 2020 thanks to the defense. Taylor Heinicke gave us all we could handle in that playoff game. Losing record should cost him his job, who starts at quarterback can’t be an excuse for a losing season

  3. D-Rok Says:

    Simplify your scheme, Coach.

  4. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    One must wonder…
    Is the defensive scheme called
    ‘The Swiss cheese’?

  5. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    Thinking of coverages that everyone is familiar with… we have
    The tampa 2
    The nickel
    The dime
    The zone
    Hybrid zone
    Man to man
    And ladies and gentlemen presenting tampas latest….
    The Swiss cheese!
    That was the dominant D for da Bucs in their last game against the cowboys btw.

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Logan Ryan is still out there as a FA. Granted he’s 32 years old now, but he does have experience in Bowles’ system.

  7. Dooley Says:

    The complexity of the scheme, the players executing together and at a high enough level to be effective is what gives some of the more unorthodox looks we’d trot out their bite.

    Just think you’re a pro QB coming out of the huddle, you look across the LOS and the SS is in the A-gap where the NT is supposed to be, the NT is lined up at OLB and your Mike/Moe backers line up where the under tackle is while your OLB is where the Mike & Moe backers should be. You take that in, now you gotta adjust your protection, figure out man/zone, and where the pressure will come from in 40 seconds or less.

    I imagine the complexity is what endears Bowles playeres’ to his style of defense and makes it so since Bowles has been in Tampa that future HOF QB Aaron Rodgers is 1-2 against us, has been sacked 11 times in those games and threw only the 3rd pick-6 of his career against us in 2020.

  8. Glass Half Full Guy Says:

    If you have the stomach for it, go back and watch that Cooper Kupp play against the Rams in the playoffs. Pay close attention to the linebackers in particular. A lot of ppl blame the play call of a blitz against Stafford in that situation but our defense looked totally lost at the snap. I think it was LVD who was just standing like a statue in the middle of the field and looking toward the sideline at the snap. He didn’t blitz, drop into coverage or anything. Other players looked lost too.

    I always assumed that they might have gotten the play from the sidelines late and that was the problem but maybe it was the complexity also that caused the defense to break down.

    A complex defense is great if you have players who can absorb it. Even if you have top-notch athletes but they have sawdust between their ear holes all that “genius scheming” can’t work. It will be a mental overload and let’s face it, if Sherman found it a challenge, what chance do the other guys have?

    I’m not advocating to dumb it down but maybe re-evaluate the teaching method and simplify on-field communication between the players so they’re all on the same page at the snap. “Do your job” is a great mantra but when you have to decide on the fly once the offense lines up what that job is out of 3 or 4 possibilities you’d better be right or a guy like Kupp is running wide open at the worst possible time.

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    Um – The Bucs did draft a nickle CB this year. 6th round – but he WAS drafted…

    Josh Hayes – K-State

    Hayes played Safety last year in his 1 and only year for the Wildcats – but was a CB his previous years in College. That position move was because K-State had good returning CBs but no one returning at Safety and they wanted Hayes to help bolster the talent level on the back end.

    The Bucs have Hayes listed as a CB now and have said he will be competing with Delaney for the starting nickle job this year…..

  10. Pickgrin Says:

    The Bucs are also impressed with UDFA rookie Safety Chris Izien.

    Winfield Jr was quoted as saying he saw a lot of himself in Izien (perhaps because the rookie is also short at 5′-8″ but plays with a ferocious nature).

    Izien will be competing with Delaney and Hayes for that starting nickle spot.

  11. Fred McNeil Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t supergenius ILB Devin White the one getting the calls from the bench?

  12. Dooley Says:

    “I’m not advocating to dumb it down but maybe re-evaluate the teaching method and simplify on-field communication between the players so they’re all on the same page at the snap.”

    All good points made in your comment, but what helps the staff as teachers is having players like LVD, CDIII, Winfield, Vea, and others who’ve been in the system since it’s been installed to fast-track new additions on the nuances of the scheme. So, whether it be out on the green or in the classroom you have players in-house who can help in the teaching process bring guys along. We’re going into our 5th season in this scheme.

    “It will be a mental overload and let’s face it, if Sherman found it a challenge, what chance do the other guys have?”

    I mean, Bowles installed a defense in the two week build up to SB LV that the defense with all the 1st & 2nd year players in it hadn’t run in any game during the regular season and it worked out pretty well for us. I get your point, ijs it’s tougher to figure something out, when you got to figure out wtf you are even looking at to begin with.

    Oh yea @Fred and it was Devin White who botched that playcall in the Rams game, he’s the only one on D with the headset to the sideline and it was even stated in the post-game presser that all 11 guys on D didn’t get the call relayed to them. Not a coaching error, it was a communication error and tbh nobody knows with any certainty what the call was on that play outside of the locker room. Still our defense was the reason we still had a shot to even being in that game

  13. Kgh4life Says:

    Maybe it’s too complex, no wonder why the DBs had communication issues.

  14. kaimaru69 Says:

    Joe wonders if the complexity of the defense is a reason the Bucs didn’t draft a slot cornerback in the draft.

    Hayes is originally from Lakeland, Florida, and first attended North Dakota State before transferring to Kansas State for his final season. Listed at 5’11”, 197 pounds, Hayes had 72 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1 FF, 7 PBU, for the Wildcats last season, and spent plenty of time occupying the nickel cornerback position.

  15. Stuart lynch Says:

    U make millions & not smart enough to learn any system necessary then what since does it make to pay that joker 1 red cent. Go baker u are lucky to have him all u haters must b democrats u r good at it

  16. westernbuc Says:

    Sherman was a communications major.

  17. Swampy Says:

    For most of the seasons between the two Super Bowl wins the Bucs were an embarrassing mess. Season ticket holders hoped we had a home game with the Bears or Cowboys or Giants, they would sell their tickets to cut their losses. I’ll be happy with some 9-8 and 10-7 seasons, rather than descending back into joke status for a decade. Entering the stadium expecting to lose is no fun.

  18. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    What good is a defensive scheme if the players turn that scheme into a Chinese fire drill? No disrespect to Chinese mind you.

  19. Pete Says:

    Football has gotten a little to complicated for its own good. The NFL has some of the very best athletes in the world. They’re asked to think too much instead of reading and reacting. Simplify and allow them to trust their skills and their instincts.

  20. Jack Clark Says:

    Complexity does not equal success. The Super Bowl winning Seattle cover 3 defense was simple but very successful. A good coach gets all their players to play at their best together. Todd Bowels needs to stop blaming it on his players for getting confused and make his defense easier for them to play at their best