Frustration Mounts For Todd Bowles With Third Down Defense

October 31st, 2023

Buds coach Todd Bowles

This here Joe has maintained on the “Ira Kaufman Podcast” that the Bucs defense is not the problem with the team. For the most part, the Bucs defense is holding opponents to scores that should not be insurmountable for a decent NFL offense.

Problem is, the Bucs don’t have a decent NFL offense.

This does not mean the Bucs defense is stellar. The main issue with the Bucs defense is the third-down defense. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. It’s horrible.

Over half the time opponents face third down, they are able to make a first down. Half the time! Some 50.6 percent! That is outrageous, worst in the NFL.

Of course, it would help if the Bucs could put quarterbacks on the GD ground. But this has been a broken record for the Bucs for damn near as long as this site has been in existence, save four seasons with Jason Pierre-Paul hunting quarterbacks before he got hurt.

You could feel the frustration in Bucs coach Todd Bowles’ voice when he spoke of the third down defense yesterday. What makes Bowles frustrated is he said it isn’t just one or two guys puking on themselves. It’s many guys taking turns shatting on the field of The Licht House.

“It’s a different person every time or it’s a different thing every time,” Bowles said. “There’s not one thing we put a finger on – we just know we’ve got to be better.

“We’re looking at doing some things differently from that standpoint.”

Well, that is a good start. The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

What we are seeing on the field with the defense is the corner the Bucs have painted defenders in. With such a stagnant offense, the defense has to play lights out each time they take the field.

One or two mistakes are magnified to make the defense out to be a culprit in the three-game losing streak.

The Bucs are tied for sixth place in fewest points allowed per game.

31 Responses to “Frustration Mounts For Todd Bowles With Third Down Defense”


    A lot more 3N outs A defense would also be much more rested and the offense would be on the field more with more chance of score

  2. BrianBucs Says:

    Bowles is the one calling the defensive plays, so………

  3. Iamabuc Says:

    I saw a post on X about JPP. He’s training and in shape and he wants to play.
    Hey Licht, a one year rental?…he can be had for cheap.

  4. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    The defense is getting tired by mid third quarter.

    That is on the offense.

    Truth be told, if Bowles were just the DC, I’d want him around. But he cannot go back, so we are looking at an entire staff turnover next year.

    I don’t know who our next couch will be…but I hope it is a PROVEN offensive guy.

  5. Joe Says:

    A lot more 3N outs A defense would also be much more rested and the offense would be on the field more with more chance of score


  6. Bucs since 76 Says:

    The defensive scheme is designed to fail. Per Bowles some of our DB can’t play zone and the rest can’t play man to man. Therefore we our not good at either, it’s kind of stupid to draft or sign DB(s) that can’t play man to man since the only way we can get to the Quarterback is to blitz since the front four can’t do it on their own. What we need to in the future is study Pittsburgh and draft the kind of players they would draft on defense.

  7. Tye Says:

    As long as the opposing WR are as open as they are in college, the defense IS a part of the problem… Let them get within field goal range then hold them to 3 points is in no way an efficient way of running a winning defense…

  8. I remember 21 Says:

    I respectfully disagree. I know this is a common narrative (the D getting gassed cause the O sucks), but while I understand the theory, the numbers don’t back it up. In EVERY loss we’ve had this season, the opponent has scored half or more of their points in the first half. Now each game plays out differently (drive lengths, starting field positions, etc), but this is a pattern. We don’t have a second half problem, we’ve got a third down problem. I’m not disputing time of possession matters, or that our offense stinks out loud, but just because our defense is the better phase doesn’t mean they’re blameless. If they want to get off the field, make plays on third down. And it would help them if Blows would stop with this soft zone crap, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

  9. Iamabuc Says:

    In another subject; I’m Soo glad we didn’t sign Carr or JimmyG.. they’re craping all over themself in the field of play.
    After seeing that…I’m still so glad we have Baker. Just saying.

  10. adam from ny Says:

    on another note:

    i would have added van jefferson to our receiving corps for a 6th round pick…

    but atlanta did it

  11. adam from ny Says:

    huge failure right there because that was the 3rd receiver we needed

  12. Hodad Says:

    I’ve defended Bowles in the past, but no more. Dee Delany is one of the team leaders in picks yet Bowles leaves him on the bench. Instead he continues to play Neal, who gives up more plays then he makes. What kind of defensive guru does that? We can’t stay on the field on offense, nor get off the field on defense. Bowle’s losing combination.

  13. garro Says:

    I really am hesitant to be “that guy” but I see alot of things this year that to me are earmarks of poorly coached teams. stumbling bumbling offense being chief among them. However the defense has got issues as well. Poor tackling, Big plays running and passing, players missing (not knowing) assignments, poor technique, out of position, and finally, some guys not finishing plays/running to the ball.

  14. Onetrickpony Says:

    But,but, I thought coach was a defense Guru ?

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Why don’t we all just acknowledge that at this point in the season our offense isn’t getting the job done, our defense isn’t getting the job done, our special teams isn’t getting the job done, with the exceptions of our Kicker & Punter (I’m loving what they’re both doing this season). So, is the fundamental problem talent (or lack thereof)? Is it coaching? Is it both?

    I vote for ‘All of the Above’. This team has some solid talent, just not nearly enough. Far too many youngsters with much too little experience running with the big dogs. And too many who have no business starting on an NFL team at this point in their careers. We went cheap, and this is the payback. Arians did Bowles zero favors by gifting him with this mess. And Bowles should’ve thought twice before accepting.

    But coaching hasn’t been able to bring this talent-level up to NFL standards either. Rah-rah coaches may infatuate fans & media, but that’s no guarantee of success. And steady-as-she-goes coaches may sink the ship slower, but sinking is sinking. The bottom line is ALWAYS performance, and right now that’s lacking.

    I hoped at the beginning of this season that the veterans could carry this team. They’re not. The NFL has gotten so competitive nowadays that I’m convinced games are decided largely ‘big plays’ by a few undergirded by steady, consistent performance by most players. The Bucs major issue through 7 games seems to be that our players are making fewer ‘big plays’ than our opponents, while too many of our guys don’t seem to be putting in steady, consistent performances. Leaks keep popping up all ove rthe place game-after-game, and Todd Bowles & his assistant coaches don’t seem to have enough fingers to keep plugging the dike.

    And BTW, folks need to stop giving Jason Licht a pass for his role in creating this whatever it is. He’s a good GM who’s grown a lot IMO, but this salary CAP mess drove us to where we are today. But not 2020 & 2021, but rather 2022. THAT’S what screwed us big-time. Had we let Tom Brady go on his merry way (like he wanted to?) our salary CAP situation going forward wouldn’t have been an issue. Yes we would’ve had a lean year or 2 (or 3?), but we would’ve been immeasurably better off in terms of rebuilding.

  16. BillyBucco Says:

    There is certainly less posts these days.
    I agree with Remember 21 in that this defense in NO WAY gassed.
    It starts from the very beginning and doesn’t matter if they are fresh or tired.
    The combination of no pass rush and soft coverage allows the intermediate throws with ease. It doesn’t even take a special QB at this point.
    The week after we lose to Atlanta, Ridder basically gets benched and even Heinike couldn’t beat Tennessee.
    I’m actually MORE worried about that guy the next time we play them.
    It has gotten to the point that even a sack on 2nd down leaving a 3rd and 13 or so, I’m holding my breath to get off the field. It’s flat out terrible to watch.
    Why do you think the Red Zone defense was so good, start there. How about because there are more players in the vicinity of the pass?
    That would make me think that more guys in the vicinity would work better in the middle of the field as well. But this 10-12 yds of off coverage is just dumb.
    Maybe try 6-8. Definition of insanity again.
    I’m about ready to go back to a 4-3 with the next coach.
    Again, with a stellar offense, this is all a mute point, but we don’t have that.
    It seems like Bowles is COUNTING on TOs to win games, but when they constantly happen in the Red Zone, it’s like our team is taking Live Fire from the opposing team every week.
    Field position matters and Bowles doesn’t get that.
    Please be aggressive early and TRY to win that battle.
    You aren’t gonna see at lot of 80-99 yd drives from Baker.

  17. Lombardi Lenny Says:

    How about we worry about our offense putting some points on the board. I’m so sick of Bowles and his glorified DC role masquerading as a head coach.

    This dude has gotta go. He’s ruining this franchise for years and years down the road. Every day he is at the helm of this team, the more damage he does for whomever takes over next

  18. NE Fan Says:

    So tired of hearing the gassed excuse, these players are trained (or supposed to be trained to play 60 min.) This is my 4th season following the Bucs and giving up 3rd downs by the D is commonplace, very frustrating to watch. Bowles drops these guys back in a soft zone and gives up the 10-12 yd pass, EVERY time. The ultimate definition of insanity. The irony is Bowles played DB you would think he could fix that. In 2020 in the playoffs the O averaged 31 points, as I recall the D played pretty well, why weren’t they gassed then. Both O and D fought back in the Rams ayoff game, no signs of gassing at the end of that game from the D except the head scratcher blitz by Bowles to loose the game. Either these DB’s are.not coached well, bad scheming or very undiscipline or all of the above but it is very clear 3rd down D is this teams nemesis.

  19. DJB Says:

    Do not drop Devin White into coverage on third down, unleash him on the blits, let’s see if he can redeem himself.

  20. DJB Says:


  21. Jeff Says:

    Todd is shockingly clueless! I blitz everybody each time like you’re supposed to!

  22. Kalind Says:

    This is what happens with a defensive head coach. More often than not first rd picks are on defense. And bargain bin shopping for offense with a conservative OC that thinks like the HC is not a recipe for success in the modern NFL

  23. Craig Says:

    If your DBs were man defenders when you drafted them, you have to play them as such.

    The DBs are giving too much cushion on third down. I understand that you don’t want the offense to get behind you, but that is what safeties are for, keep them as two high.

    It would all look different if the Bucs could sustain a few clock eating drives, but that isn’t going to happen with no running game and a QB with happy feet.

  24. Lord Cornelius Says:

    25th in yards given up. We’ve been amazing in the red zone

    I can’t remember many times if ever a team has been top 5 in points allowed but like bottom 5 in yards allowed. That’s a Bucs type of thing lol in this year of what the hell is our identity

  25. SlyPirate Says:

    As the year progresses, you see other teams have figured out both the offensive and defensive schemes. The coaches aren’t evolving.

  26. Mike C Says:


  27. TombsEN Says:

    NE Fan only started showing back up during this losing streak lol…..that’s a sad existence if you ask me.

  28. TombsEN Says:

    Also, TB is doing his defense no favors with the current scheme. Giving up tons of yards to only have the opposing team pin you on the ten yard line or worse is backwards especially with how bad the offense is. I would understand the philosophy if we had a top flight offense but we do not, it’s like dying by a thousand cuts.

  29. BigBucJoe Says:

    The defense is not good, period. This is the same defense that let Desmond Ridder march the Falcons to a winning field goal in 45 seconds. And the same DC that let Cooper Kupp get open deep twice in the playoff game two years ago. The defense hasn’t been good since the Super Bowl win.

  30. NE Fan Says:

    MikeC@ & Tomb@ a little testy these days. All I am doing is what others on this site are, stating the obvious. Your HC can’t get out of his own way, that is why this team is failing. How is it possible the O can be this bad for two straight seasons and were top tier in the league pre-Bowles? Of course you would expect a drop with Jensen & Gronk gone, Smiths penalties negated anything he did well but not to the bottom of the league. The team is far better than they are playing and it’s all caused by slow play Bowles.

  31. Idroolpewter&red Says:

    The Bucs’ defense kept putting the Bucs offense’s starting position near their own goal line for half the game against Buffalo. Unfortunately, as we all know, Tampa does not have the dynamic offense that several of its opponents have had, which means the defense has to get off the field much faster than it has been of late if they’re going to have any chance of winning the NFC South this season.