Embrace Off-Coverage

September 24th, 2023

Bucs coach Todd Bowles.

Two things are guaranteed to fill Joe’s Twitter mentions Monday night. It never fails.

* People complaining about the offensive line (Luke Goedeke has replaced Donovan Smith as the scapegoat for all that ails Western civilization). Doesn’t matter what the score of the game is.

* Zone defense, specifically off-man coverage where a cornerback gives receivers a cushion at the line of scrimmage and does not jam a receiver at the line.

For the folks who hate this defense, better take a few belts of Coyote Ugly bourbon from Big Storm Brewing before kickoff. Stats suggest it’s coming.

Rich Hribar of Sharp Football Analysis noted that stud Eagles receiver A.J. Brown struggled badly with off-coverage last week against Minnesota.

After catching 7-of-10 targets for 79 yards in the season opener, Brown secured just 4-of-6 targets for 29 yards last Thursday against the Vikings.

Minnesota played off coverage all night long, and Brown was visibly frustrated by his lack of involvement.

Well, if a top-shelf kind of receiver like Brown is wigged out by that type of coverage — from the Vikings no less! — and only has 29 yards against off-coverage, Bowles would be crazy not trying to defend Brown using that same method.

And Joe believes, when healthy, the Bucs have a much better secondary than Minnesota.

So yeah, if people are triggered by the Bucs defense playing off-coverage, find a way to cope Monday night. It’s probably coming. Or at least, it should.

18 Responses to “Embrace Off-Coverage”

  1. Erik Hesson - Fine Artist and Founder of UniqueModernArt.com Says:

    What is this ‘Twitter’ you speak of? Lol

    I’m more concerned about our Zone coverage in general than the off-coverage.

    Why does our Zone coverage look horrible and disorganized most of the time?

    Play Man more often than not, please.

  2. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    “Luke Goedeke has replaced Donovan Smith as the scapegoat for all that ails Western civilization.”

    By my non-professional eye, Luke has been more than adequate so far. If someone has to classify him as the weak link, I say much better for the weak link to be at right tackle than at left tackle. I would point first at our run blocking at center before anything else, but wtfdik.

  3. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    “Zone defense, specifically off-man coverage where a cornerback gives receivers a cushion at the line of scrimmage and does not jam a receiver at the line.”

    Off coverage does not have to mean corners 3 yards past the marker on 3rd down. It makes me crazy when I see us do this ALL THE TIME!!!

    Zone defense does not have to mean off coverage at all. Seattle’s Legion defense commonly played bump-zone. You can jamb the receiver at the line of scrimmage, and then release that receiver into the adjacent zone. I don’t ever see us use this technique. Why?

  4. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    “For the folks who hate this defense, better take a few belts of Coyote Ugly bourbon from Big Storm Brewing before kickoff.”

    People need to accept that there will probably never be another defense like the ’85 Bears, Ray Lewis Ravens, or ’99-’02 Bucs. The rules are different. Nearly every fan base complains about their defense nowadays, and what they want will never exist again.

  5. Shane Callahan Says:

    Agree with Hunter’s Crack Pipe… You have defend the first down marker no matter what. That’s defense 101…

  6. Shane Callahan Says:

    Totally off-topic, but the Sooners appear to have an actual defense for the first time since they won a National Championship in 2000.

    Go Bucs, go Baker, and go Sooners!

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how Philly attacks the Bucs Monday night. Through 2 games they’re averaging 5.0 YPP over 136 plays (73 runs, 56 passes, 7 sacks). Hurts is completing his passes at a 71.4% rate, but his deep passing has really dragged that down. He was 0-for-4 against the Pats deep, but 2-for-5 against the Vikes … with 1 TD deep & 1 INT deep.

    Since the Bucs have shown themselves to be vulnerable to explosive pass plays, have to wonder if they’ll try to burn us deep, after setting us up most likely with the run & short pass. Even if not effective, spreading us out will surely help their very good run game.

  8. CHRISTOS Says:

    Hahahahaha yeap that off coverage will drive us crazy for sure.
    Nobody is expecting to jam the receivers all the time and play tight coverage but at the very least you must do it sometimes, give different looks and mix it up.
    But for me the most irritating thing is when i see this off coverage with our DBs giving 7 to 10 yards cushion when a blitz is called. That really gets me, I mean it defeats the purpose of the blitz if you give easy quick throws.
    Anyway we have to be better in coverage period, either we play zone or we play man.

  9. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucs’ defense this season is getting the desired result (17 PPG is pretty darned good), but HOW it’s getting it is rather bizarre. We’ve got a top rushing defense (ranked #3 allowing only 108 total rushing yards), but a mediocre passing defense (ranked #24 allowing 497 total passing yards). We’re also allowing opposing QBs to complete 69% of their passes, but we have sacked them 8 times & hit them 19 times in just 2 games … as well as intercepted 3 of their passes.

    Obviously the pass coverage isn’t ‘tight enough’, but something must be working right because we’re 2-0 with an offense that’s only scored 40 points in 2 games. I think what’s working right is turnovers that greatly favor the Bucs so far.

    Opponents have had 20 drives total, and 5 of those have ended in turnovers (25%). That’s unheard of; even in 2019 (when Jameis set the world on fire with 30 INTs & we had 41 total giveaways), our Turnover Percentage was 20.2% (41 TOs in 198 drives). That’s the highest it’d been since we went 4-12 in 2011. The average TO% looks to be 10-15%, so it’s probably unlikely that our opponents will average 25% this season.

  10. D-Rok Says:

    ^^^ @DR,

    Great analysis as usual. Would you opine these rather atypical defensive trends seen so far are sustainable? The one part you alluded to as being the catalyst for success is turnovers, and we all know they come in waves and spurts and cannot be reliably counted on when “needed.”

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if turnovers in our favor continued on a regular basis?

  11. Destinjohnny Says:

    Off coverage works great against hurts due to his accuracy on deeper passes.
    Go back and watch the Clemson bama game in tampa if u want the formula
    Be ready for football in a phone booth
    2 yard passes and qb runs
    He has the best line in football by far and the best wideout tandem.

  12. Jmarkbuc Says:

    The only reason we had the #1 rush D for a couple year stretch was the Swiss cheese secondary we had at the same time.

    Why run when you can just play pitch and catch?

    Let’s see how this year plays out.

  13. stpetebucfan Says:

    I’m most worried about our “multimillionaire” star CB’s. Davis as is frequently the case is not “dinged” if not out totally.

    Dean who certainly has the talent has begun the season on his weakness…radical inconsistency. You can’t play like an AllPro one series or game and worse than a raw meat rookie the others.

    IF Davis is healthy, and IF Dean plays up to his talents, IF these two earn their money the Bucs can win this game.

  14. rrsrq Says:

    I just want to see that 10 yard cushion closed when they only need 3 yards for a first down. I want to see our DBs and LBs stop giving up chunk plays of 20 yards or more. Is that too much to ask (though I have some confidence in the bend don’t break mentality)

  15. 757Buc’em Says:

    As if Luke isn’t out there messing upsmh. Dude has killed atleast 3 drives this season it’s only week 3 with only two games played. Is he better than Donovan , yea I’d say but he’s still a F’ up. N I won’t get started on the off coverages we’ve all screamed at the tv about.

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    D-Rok … No way this Turnover Differential (Plus 5) is sustainable for a whole season; turnovers always seem to come in spurts. That’s OK though, take what we can get.

    I’m still a big believer that POINTS ALLOWED is what really counts, and the Bucs are doing quite well at that. I’ll gladly take 17 PPG as our season average. San Fran had the best defense last year (16.3 PPG), Buffalo was 2nd best (17.9 PPG for their 16 games) then Baltimore (18.5 PPG). So IF we averaged 17 PPG we’d have the 2nd best defense in the NFL, and for a LOT less money than the 49ers are paying for theirs.

    Strange thing is that San Fran last year finished 13-4, with the #2 rushing defense but the #20 passing defense (finished #1 overall). Right now the Bucs have the #3 rushing defense but the #24 passing defense (ranked #8 overall). So obviously all we have to do is just improve a little bit defensively and we could finish 13-4 also. See, we got this.

  17. garro Says:

    The only problem we have with the off coverage is that we suck at it and our underneath guy Diva can’t cover my gramma.

    We had to go away from off coverage at the Vikes. Too many guys running free. Not sure Hurts has the arm to take advantage of it though.

    We shall see.

    Go Bucs!

  18. BillyBucco Says:

    We didn’t go away from Off Coverage vs the Vikes.
    In fact, Bowles had them play a deeper zone in the 2nd half.
    That’s why Jeffferson got shutdown.
    We have covered the screen well and stopped the run so why not continue the recipe.
    Like I always say, I’ll take the dink and dunk’s because the more plays a team has to run, the more chances there are for a TO.
    It’s like telling a kid not to lick his lollipop for these guys, especially WRs.
    They HAVE to get a deep shot and that’s when we wreck Hurts or pick him off.