Play Better Defense

July 8th, 2023

Play good defense.

For the folks who used to howl whenever Joe brought up how Mr. Entertainment, America’s Quarterback Jameis Winston, had 5,000 yards passing but the Bucs had to dump him because of his picks, Joe responded, “Play better defense.”

That’s something that needs to happen this year.

For those who believe turnovers are more important than playing good, solid, fundamental football, here is something to ponder:

Joe knows Bucs coach Todd Bowles is really, really stressing how the Bucs need more takeaways. Frankly, Joe would like to see the defense just play better.

Handicapper turned stathead Warren Sharp charted how many points defenses gave up after their offensive teammates turned the ball over last year. The Bucs ranked in the middle of the pack, No. 14.

Joe thinks it is safe to suggest the offense will turn the ball over more this year since Baker Mayfield is playing instead of Tom Brady. So a kind message to Bowles: It’s nice you want turnovers. But first focus on the defense playing sound ball. Strong tackling and an edge rush would be very nice.

Then focus on takeaways.

23 Responses to “Play Better Defense”

  1. sasquatch Says:

    Playing better defense is always a good idea, especially after a turnover, but there are zero winning teams that throw that many interceptions or put the ball on the ground. You don’t become risk averse at the expense of big plays, but you also have to work at minimizing turnovers on offense and forcing them on defense. That’s sound fundamental football.

  2. Bucswin Says:

    I remember Brady throwing 3 interceptions in the playoffs. That D stood up. Got that ring.

  3. Joe Says:

    I remember Brady throwing 3 interceptions in the playoffs. That D stood up. Got that ring.


  4. ATLBuc Says:

    Sounds good but, in order for the defense to play better, the offense needs to stay on the field for more that 3 plays and a punt every possession. In other words, a good defense needs help from the offense.

  5. Rod Munch Says:

    Brad Johnson threw an INT in the 1st quarter of every playoff game in the 2002 run. In fact Brad threw an INT on the opening series in two of the games, and the 2nd series in the other. Pair that with terrible special teams, and you know why the Bucs 2002 defense, which gave up a net 3 points in the playoffs, is THE best defense of all time. Also it did that against all top 10 offenses, including the #1 offense.

    As for Todd, without Arians there last year, he got quite passive – at least compared to previous years when they were healthy. In 2021, with pretty much every corner on the team injured, Bowles played a ton of zone, which was completely understandable because of the injuries and trying to simplify things for guys you’re signing off their couch, and then starting a few days later. But last year, with guys healthy, he didn’t return to the ultra aggressive 2019-2020 Bucs defense, instead it looked a lot more like the 2021 defense. I think that’s all on Arians not being there – not only did the offense lose their aggressiveness, so did the defense.

  6. Cleanhouse Says:

    this team ended when they discarded Suh and JPP like trash.
    They were our heart beat and the rest of the D is soft aside from Gholston Lavonte who steps up consistently.
    Now Gholston is gone too- team will be total trash

  7. Cleanhouse Says:

    Gholston and Lavonte

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    Rod … ‘But last year, with guys healthy, he didn’t return to the ultra aggressive 2019-2020 Bucs defense, instead it looked a lot more like the 2021 defense. I think that’s all on Arians not being there – not only did the offense lose their aggressiveness, so did the defense.’

    Excellent observation Rod; agree 100%. But the question that has to follow is WHY? I think it’s because offenses were able to run on us a LOT more … and more effectively … in 2022 than they were able to in 2021 or 2020 (and even in 2019). Our containment sucked last year, and so did our ability to stop runs up the middle when Vea or Hicks were out for the game (or the series?).

    In 2022 opponents ran on us a total of 458 times out of 1073 plays … 42.7% of the plays IOW. But if you look at our 9 losses, it’s even worse. In those, opponents ran on us 277 times out of 586 plays … 47.3% of the plays IOW. And in those losses they owned the TOP … an average of 33:45 minutes each loss. Our playoff loss to the Cowboys was even worse. They ran on us 35 times out of 69 plays … 50.7% of the plays … for 34:34 mins TOP.

    In 2021 opponents ran on us a total of 366 times out of 1093 plays … 33.5% of their plays. MAJOR difference. In 2020 they ran on us a total of 358 out of 1023 plays … 35.0% of their plays. Even in 2019 opponents only ran on us 362 times out of 1073 plays … 33.7% of the time.

    In 2019-2021 we had Vea, Suh, Gholston & RNR upfront, with JPP & Shaq getting the majority of the snaps outside. Last year no Suh, no JPP & Shaq missed most of the year. The big guys inside (Vea & Hicks) had marginal availability (Vea 14 games with 539 snaps and Hicks 11 games with 399 snaps). The younger guys like Hall & JTS didn’t exactly set the world on fire. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why opponents ran on us so much more often … and so much more effectively … in 2022. My guess is that 2023 will be a repeat unless our youngsters step up to the plate. THAT will be Bowles emphasis on defense IMO.

  9. Hodad Says:

    What about when yo QB throws pick sixes, and the defense doesn’t even get a chance? Joe, I’ve seen to many walk off wins against the Bucs when Jameis did just that. The team that turns the ball over the most usually loses. It has always been thus.

  10. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    I would much rather see this defense play aggressively and lose, early Todd Bowles; as opposed to play on their heels all game, and get pounded repeatedly, and then lose; aka lovey smith….
    Football by nature is an aggressive sport, not a passive event.

  11. Dooley Says:

    You mean like the 2022 Green Bay game, where we held an Aaron Rodger led offense to 14 points and had a stretch in the game where we stopped GB on offense 7 times in a row? and still lost lol “play better defense” in response to the offense turning the ball over ain’t it. The opposite of that would be getting blown out on D and telling the offense to “score more points” it’s kind of ignorant to how the offense and defense are should be in lock step with one another.

    Joe you really wrote this lol

  12. Mosey Says:

    Okay I get it SMB was the man more athletic

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Points off turnovers would be more meaningful if we knew how many turnovers each team played against.

  14. Mosey Says:

    So small thinking😄👍

  15. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Really slow time of year

  16. stpetebucfan Says:

    Turnovers work both ways. I agree with Joe that some DC’s..Bowles in that role..Lovie Smith…OBSESS on their D’s getting turnovers. This sometimes results in poor tackling. 90% of the time the bottom line for defenders getting turnovers is an offensive player making a mistake, a JW like int machine, RB’s and WR’s not wrapping up enough..hopefully not White (that’s my only doubt about him) IE it takes “opportunity”. I’d rather focus on great D and take the turnovers when they happen.

    On the other side of the ball the offense actually DOES have a chance to control the turnover battle. They START with the ball in their possession. So I do respect OC’s who obsess on cutting down mistakes!

    And what is the biggest mistake…INT’s! The QB’s int % tells us a lot about how well he played and protected the ball free of mistakes. Cement head JW’s final year was just freaking amazing!!! Yep he got all those yards but he literally turned the ball over 1 out of every 20 passes.

    Mayfield is a mixed bag. If he plays like he did in 2020 he’s EXCELLENT. 1.6% Int is great and the Bucs will win if he can do that again. If you look at the stars…Burrows…and others the average seems to be 2%. Patrick Mahomes is a freak in this department…his CAREER int % is 1.6%!!! Despite his ability to keep the play alive with what appears at times to be wild reckless scrambling he’s simply does not throw picks. This is why IMHO Mahomes is the greatest QB in the game today.

    BTW Derek Carr like Burrows is right at that Mendoza line with a career 2% int rate and several seasons beneath 2%. This is why he is valuable.

    AGAIN…if Mayfield OR Trask keep their int% below 2% I believe the Bucs will win. Especially behind the new and improved OL.

  17. Marine Buc Says:


    “Play better defense”

    Are you forgetting about the 7 pick sixes that Winston gave away?

    How was the defense supposed to stop those?

    Did you mean our offense should have played better defense?


  18. Infomeplease Says:

    Sasquach asys “Playing better defense is always a good idea, especially after a turnover, but there are zero winning teams that throw that many interceptions or put the ball on the ground.

    If I’m seeing this list right the 3 teams that gave up the most points off of turnovers were all playoff teams… I consider them winners. KC, Dal, Sea.

    Maybe if the Bucs played better D especially after turnovers and on 3rd and 4th downs, they would have more Ws. You know complementary football!

  19. Craig Says:

    Hard to play better when you are overpowered. The D-line, even with the Vita, was beaten almost every time.

    Later they lost the spark of life and it got worse.

    The entire team looked like zombie ball last season.

    This season something has to happen to make the team look like they are having fun.

  20. tampabuscsbro Says:

    True, defense should have stepped up on more turnovers then humanely possible by a QB that was lucky he didn’t get close to 40. And those pick sixes.

    As we know Jameis is just tearing it up right now………wait.

  21. Slimy Toadface Says:

    Sign Ghoulston and Nassib after Game 1 if they have anything left

  22. Rod Munch Says:

    Defense Rules – I think it was more of a domino effect caused by Leftwich. Opposing teams didn’t need to score as many points, so they could run the ball more to control the clock. While the Bucs run defense has been excellent at times, at other times their numbers were vastly inflated because teams didn’t run the ball because they had to pass to keep up with the Bucs offense.

    With that said, it still doesn’t excuse how passive Bowles became, and even when they sent pressure it was rarely those ‘exotic’ blitzes we saw early on in Bowles run, and instead would just be a single extra guy sent in a predictable manner.

  23. garro Says:

    The Bucs Legendary defense of 2002 seemed to me to almost relish the opportunity to get a stop after a turnover (ie Sapp getting the fans involved etc).
    I have yet to see that kind of attitude from our current defense. It used to amaze me how often they came up with the opportune turnover in critical situations. Just saying.

    How about we get sacks, interceptions, and stop the run game.
    Give our offense a short field. Or as Joe said …Play better defense.

    Go Bucs!