Physical Vs. Soft

October 17th, 2023

Not physical.

Joe was not trying to embarrass Bucs coach Todd Bowles on Sunday night. But the question had been gnawing at Joe for days. After the loss to the Lions, it needed to be asked.

Are the Bucs soft?

Well, Joe didn’t ask the question in those words. That’s fishing for a reaction and rude after a loss. Joe was looking for an answer, not a reaction.

So Joe asked Bowles, given how the Bucs have been handled by physical teams dating back to last year (San Francisco, Dallas in the playoffs, Philadelphia and Detroit this year), is it fair to say the Bucs don’t match up well with physical teams?

Bowles did not agree. He said he thought the Bucs matched up OK with Detroit. If you think about it, he wasn’t totally wrong. But Joe still maintains the Bucs are not a tough team. Certainly not tough enough. Below is just one example. But a big example.

Yesterday, Peter King of NBC Sports made a big deal out of Lions running back Craig Reynolds blasting Carlton Davis to spring open Amon-Ra St. Brown for a touchdown. Fair point.

The Bucs had a similar opportunity at the same part of the field. But instead, the play was blown up by the Lions’ just being more physical.

Bucs ball, second-and-six at the Lions-13. Mayfield dumps off to Deven Thompkins (5-8, 155) to the right after Thompkins motions into the backfield. Thompkins catches the ball and heads for the corner of the end zone.

Bucs tight end Cade Otton, who blocks much more like a receiver than a tight end, was running interference for Thompkins. All Otton had to do was take Lions linebacker Jack Campbell out of the play and Thompkins probably scores as he already got past corner Cameron Sutton.

Instead, Campbell runs right through Otton and given how Campbell has nearly 100 pounds on Thompkins, Campbell flattened him.

The Bucs later had to settle for a field goal to pull within 10-6.

Flip those two plays (Bucs instead get a touchdown and Lions instead settle for a field goal) and it’s an eight-point swing.

 The Bucs were in position to make those plays. The difference? Physicality.

Davis was splashed, Otton was basically an orange shadow and small Thompkins was no match against Campbell.

Yeah, go ahead and nitpick Joe for perhaps nitpicking. But despite what Bowles said about matching up with physical teams, Joe is sure that until the Bucs play more like dawgs or find more dawgs, they will get chewed up and spit out by the dawgs of the NFL.

San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia and now Detroit. That’s not an accident folks, that’s a pattern. You don’t need to be a stat geek to do the math here.

45 Responses to “Physical Vs. Soft”

  1. ModHairKen Says:

    That was a perfect article, Joseph. You are so spot on.

    Fix it, Tampa. It’s not just physical. It’s state of mind.

  2. pewter941 Says:

    Well Carlton Davis got blindsided, so theres that.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I would certainly agree that Philadelphia beat us up on both sides of the line……severely…..

    But I think we matched up with Detroit but had very poor execution from Mayfield in the clutch…..he was off Sunday..

    Our defense did well against them and actually looked physical… burnt on a couple of bombs.

    I don’t think those two examples given are enough……just good execution on their part and bad on ours.

  4. NJbucs23 Says:

    Carlton tried to avoid the hit instead of applying the hit. That’s all you need to know about him.
    The Bucs have zero TE and no RB. White is a good pass blocker, I will give him that. He seems to pick up blitz protection well.

    We are 1-2 seats away from contending again.

  5. Jack Clark Says:

    “But Joe still maintains the Bucs are not a tough team. Certainly not tough enough.”

    Certainly not tough enough to run block and our edge rushers are softer than a baby’s blanket!

    “Bucs tight end Cade Otton, who blocks much more like a receiver than a tight end, was running interference for Thompkins. All Otton had to do was take Lions linebacker Jack Campbell out of the play and Thompkins probably scores as he already got past corner Cameron Sutton.”

    Ahhh yes, Joe is finally starting to realize how important run blocking is and how terrible we are at it 😌

  6. Eckwood Says:

    Did Devin White make any splash plays ? Has he made a splash play all year ??
    A ball thrown right to you isn’t a splash play !! BTW he isn’t physical either , name one time in his career he has destroyed a rb blocking on a blitz !! He’s supposed to be the tone setter and He ain’t no Hardy Nickerson !!!

  7. Texasbucsfan Says:

    You are right. This is not a physical team. To many new players without the experience. It will take another year or so for this team to jell. Go Bucs

  8. Steve-0 Says:

    Watch out! Joe is turning already. First, the Bucs are playing better without Brady. Now the Bucs are to soft. Next, Baker is the problem (3 of 17 first downs). Next Bowles is not a good offensive leader. Blah, blah blah. From what I see (leave Brady out of it please, he’s gone already) the Bucs are solid. Bowles is an excellent coach. They will be a contender. Mayfield is a fighter. The defense is good. I still predict the Bucs will finish at 12-5 and make it to the Super Bowl.

  9. stpetebucfan Says:

    Cade Otton can run routes and catch the ball as well as Gronk. Cade Otton’s blocking should not be mentioned in the same sentence with Gronk.

    Ko Kieft cannot run the routes as well as Gronk but he is a heavy duty blocker.

    Haven’t seen enough of Payne Durham to make a judgement.

    So as everybody knows there are only a few Gronks and Kelce Travis types. The Bucs best hope is to get a Gronk out of a combination of Otton and Kieft. Not sure what Kieft has done to get in Canalas doghouse but he’s rarely used and as has been suggested by others he has the potential to make a good H back. Line him up at fullback to see if that can help the run game. Move him to TE/H back for plays like the one Otton whiffed on.

    Again I thought the Bucs rebounded well after being manhandled by the Eagles physically. We’re talking 2 of the top 4 NFL teams since the second half of last season by records. The Bucs get to face another in S.F.

  10. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Here are Ottons weaknesses as highlighted by

    Seems bothered by contact inside the route.
    Could use additional play strength.
    More willing than aggressive in taking on blocking duties.
    Frequently out-muscled and loses his stalemate block.
    Not enough core strength to sustain and seal defensive ends.

    He is projected as an EVENTUAL STARTER-Note to Bucs Eventual does not translate to Day 1. This is a recurring theme with Tampa , using too many players that are projected to take years to become starters as every down players on Day 1 , this is caused by poor draft decisions.

  11. Bobby M. Says:

    Bowles will have a counterpoint to every remark….in the end his record will speak for itself. I’ll continue to say this, Bowles doesn’t coach to W, he coaches to position his defense for rankings out of self preservation. If he flames out as a HC, then he can still hang his hat on being a defensive coordinator. The league is designed to reward scoring not clock management. We run as if we’ve got Barry Sanders back there waiting to pop the big one, yet have the worst rushing attack for the 2nd year in a row. We may get by beating struggling teams but against playoff caliber teams we can’t keep up.

  12. Ed Says:

    If it isn’t working change it. Change the culture and let the players who hustle and hit people get on the field. Send the weak players to the bench.

    I’ve seen enough of Raschad White to know he isn’t suited to be a lead back. Enough has been said about him. He’s not going to be a contributor.

    I’ve seen enough of JTS to know he is nowhere near a starting edge rusher. His lack of muscle is obvious. He doesn’t finish plays when he gets near QB’s.

    I’ve seen enough of Todd Bowles zone defense to know that it doesn’t stop the 3rd down conversions because when they drop back they leave open areas and the QB has too much time to spot the open guy and boy are they open.

    I’ve seen enough of the Bucs paying 2 defensive backs upwards of 30 million dollars to drop back in zone when both of them are cover guys who excel in man to man coverage. These are not system corners and certainly the Bucs didn’t need to waste valuable cap space to pay them to drop into zone.

    Its not too late for the staff to begin to bench the weak players and find guys that have the “want to” to play physically.

  13. Jeff Says:

    Clueless Todd is back, baby! Sadly, Todd is a Lovie Smith level of coach.

  14. JBBUCS_06 Says:

    We got faster, no doubt but that sacrificed physicality. We did get man-handled at times.

  15. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    The TE isn’t good. He’s been over hyped by Bucs media since he was drafted. They love so so players that are nice to them during interviews (ie Batgirl in her red kimono). We need better running backs and better tight ends. The next dude Otton blocks will be the first dude he blocked. I don’t know about the whole team but Jill Sissyinka might be the softest player in NFL history.

  16. Lord Cornelius Says:

    On defense we can match up typically. Davis better ball out the rest of the season after that honestly lol. He talked a ton coming into this season about “wrecking sh1t” but coverage has been the biggest liability so far. Our pass rush and run D outside of the Eagles game ahs been good.

    On offense it’s a joke to say we are physical when we cannot run the ball at all.

  17. orlbucfan Says:

    Well, there are no more undefeated teams in the NFL. That means god’s team, the 49ers, were defeated this weekend. Part of Canales’ problem is he’s still learning the strengths and weaknesses of his players. Otton is a pass catching TE. Kieft is more of a blocking TE. White can catch, and he’s also turning into a blocker. I don’t know enough about Mayfield to have an opinion. I am enjoying this season. Sure beats the 1980s.

  18. TDavis Says:

    Having two players that aren’t physical is not the same as not having a physical team.

  19. TDavis Says:

    Tristan Wirfs, Lavonte David, Goedeke (gasp!), Godwin, all physical players.

  20. Caleb Says:

    I don’t think the team is soft but Otten is definitely soft in the running game. But they keep putting him out there to block. That is on the coaches. The Carlton play would never have happened if the other players didn’t take bad angles.

  21. garro Says:

    Joe the physicality and intensity of this years team is lights out better than last year. We had guys looking like they could hardly wait to get the season over with!
    Remember Brady getting in some peoples faces mid game?

    That does not mean that we are physically capable of steam rolling some teams. Philly being one. Lions did not out physical us Joe. I did not even see JTS get rag dolled this week. Certainly none of the O line were over-matched. Heck even Diva White was hitting people.

    Go Bucs!

  22. Leighroy Says:

    Everyone made fun of Dan Campbell from his introductory press conference 2.5 years ago, but can you make fun of him now? Tough to argue with the results.

    VV, David & Winfield Jr. are the only tough guys on defense. White’s game is based on speed. Kancey might be tough, but haven’t seen enough to decide.

    These contract decisions this off-season need to boil down to 1 thing; is this guy tough enough to help us elevate vs the Eagles, Lions and 49ers in the next 2-4 years? If the answer is no, good luck in free agency.

  23. KC Buc Says:

    I forgot about that Thompkins play but I remember thinking Otton was very underwhelming in the moment and that the play could have gotten a little more. On point analysis, that block by Reynolds was a thing of beauty. Otton should take notes.

  24. DS Says:

    David got blindsided, and seems Bowles plays alota zone not the teams strength especially if we can’t get there with 4

  25. Buddha Says:

    Campbell’s record at this point last year was 1-5 in his second year as coach after a losing record his first year, If he were in Tampa fans would have run him out of town. The Buccaneers have lost to two teams that are each 5-1. In both games, we missed on big plays that could have made a big difference. Our first half schedule is quite unfavorable with games at Minnesota, at Buffalo, at San Francisco and against Philadelphia and Detroit at home. All of these teams were picked to win their divisions. New Orleans and Atlanta only play Minnesota. Having lost our Super Bowl winning quarterback, tight end, center, left guard, right guard, and right end,don’t you think we deserve a little time to remake the offense. We also lost three starters from that defense. So how about a little patience? Look at what what happened in Atlanta after they lost the Super Bowl, in New Orleans after Drew Brees retired, in New England after Brady left, in LA when they came up against the salary cap and in Pittsburgh when
    Rothlessberger retired. The fact we are still competitive shows we a decent franchise. This is the NFL not the MLB where the richest franchises buy the best players.

  26. Andrew Fish Says:

    also when we had 2 TEs in motion to the left Otton being one of them and we attempted to run outside of Wirfs. it was open if otton held his own. but he got blown up and the running back had nowhere to go.

    I get we want to run and we should but we have a weaker line for run blocking and our TE’s can’t run block at all. Why not spread them out and run with just 5 on the line and Otton in the slot. I’m sure he can block a safety or corner. spread them out. try something different. or use Kieft as a fullback more. Also our best run was a toss with a really nice cut back. that we only did once.

  27. Bucschamp Says:

    Remember we used to have a big RB who flattened an all pro cowboy linebacker before?

  28. pewter941 Says:

    Carlton was trying to tackle the guy with the ball, he wasnt paying attention to the guy who crack backed or blindsided him. They tell you to keep your head on a swivel, but sometimes you get lost in the moment and forget, it happens to everyone.

  29. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Otton needs work on his run blocking and both Vaughn and White need to improve their vision and stop dancing- if that’s even possible

  30. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Put your sisters iPad back Jeff and go pull the weeds like I told you too useless little boy

  31. Boomer Says:

    On point with the article Joe.

  32. Hodad Says:

    Both play like a couple of puss’s.

  33. SB~LV Says:

    If you go back to the first game this year you will see a dramatic difference in hitting and swarming to the ball

  34. SlyPirate Says:

    Team Needs Ranked*
    1. Running Back
    2. MLB (LVD replacement)
    3. C
    4. TE
    5. LG

    *Assuming team resigns Wirfs, Winfield, D White, McLaughlin. Baker or Trask start next year.

  35. Buc4evr Says:

    Soft offense. Need a true blocking FB and some Olinemen with a serious attitude problem. Our WR’s cannot block like Detroit’s WRs. Our Oline is just not playing together and can’t account for different run blitz packages. Overall this team cannot compete with Philly, Dallas, San Fran or Detroit. Not enough muscle….

  36. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Speaking of SOFT Joe I am reminded by the Uniforms that the Bucs did not even have a strength coach until 1984.


    The team looked like they did most of the time in those uniforms.

    Yep the legacy is intact, with all the blah blah about different players wearing those LOSING UNIFORMS. big flipping deal,

    AS Herm Edwards has said “You play to WIN the Game.

    For me, the biggest thing was they could not convert a 3rd down for a long stretch in the 2nd half, and they could not stop Detroit on 3rd down. The Bucs 2 times going for the bomb on 3rd downs, when 1st downs could have easily been made. Just not smart football.

    When Baker threw the 2nd bomb on another 3rd down, it sealed the Bucs fate for the game. Just not smart when they needed only 1-2 yard for a first down.

  37. PewterStiffArm Says:

    And of course it always happens in front of a National TV audience and always at RayJay. It has become the norm to not show up at home. We stink at home. And visiting teams know that they can man handle us while playing in a stadium that usually has 35 to 40% visiting fans. This my friends is annoying and pathetic on our part. It has been happening for years even while Tom was under center.

  38. PewterStiffArm Says:

    Wasn’t Carlton Davis the one that said that this defense was going wreak some sh$$T. It seams like that Detroit running back put the wood on Carlton, just mentioning toughness.

  39. Bucfan1988 Says:

    Did y’all see Ryan Neal #23 on that play??

    Dude is just LOST!!

    He allowed St. Brown to get past him on the crosser to get to the outride..
    Then he loafed after that…

    And yeah CD24 shoulda got physical to fight thru that block…..

  40. Mark Reese Says:

    I can’t tell you how mad I was to see the Lions contesting every pass and the Bucs allowing the receivers to catch the ball uncontested. Allowing a receiver to catch a 4 yard pass before closing in on him is a recipe for losing.

  41. Will Says:

    It’s 3rd and 13 and the corner up top is at least 9yds off the ball because he’s not even in the screen picture and he may be even further than that. This Def is and has been terrible at zone under Todd. I’m not sure what the problem is but I’m 100% tired of hearing communication is the issue. Play to your teams strengths and we have to very good press corners but they are below average in zone.

  42. stpetebucfan Says:


    As usual great post. I think one sentence stands out to me…”If he were in Tampa fans would have run him out of town.”

    Overall I thought the Bucs simply got outcoached Sunday not outphysicalled.
    But as you suggest I give rookie OC Canales a lot of slack…new coach…new OL…new QB…new starting RB…imagine that combo needing time to jell eh?

  43. BucaneroJim Says:

    Respect to Hainsey for stepping up, but this where Ryan Jensen is sorely missed.

  44. Will Says:

    However if you watch the play closely LVD54 is the reason this turned into a big play to start and then Neal gets juked making it worse. Both of them had the chance to stop the WR and make it 4th down.

  45. BA’s Red Pen Says: