Stopping The Run

October 12th, 2023

Buccaneers savior inside linebacker Devin White.

What has happened to the run defense?

When Bucs coach Todd Bowles first came arrived as defensive coordinator, teams simply did not run on the Bucs in 2019 and 2020. It was a waste of time because the Bucs led the league in run defense. They haven’t been remotely that good since.

In 2021, the Bucs finished No. 17 in yards per carry allowed. In 2022 the Bucs finished No. 23. This year the Bucs rank No. 17.

Now here come the Lions. They have two damn good backs in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, though the rookie Gibbs hasn’t done anything yet. Montgomery is seventh in the NFL in rushing.

How soft has the Bucs’ run defense been? The Eagles gouged the Bucs for 201 yards. And it wasn’t like many of those were hard-fought. The Eagles on that Monday night too often blew holes wide open for running back D’Andre Swift.

Yesterday on “NFL Insiders” seen weekdays on NFL+, NFL Network’s Sara Walsh noted that for the Bucs to beat the Lions, that has to change.

“That’s not typical of a Todd Bowles’ defense,” Walsh said. “They want to prove [the Eagles game] was a fluke.”

Joe doesn’t know if the possible home debut of rookie defensive tackle Calijah Kancey will help. He’s more of a pass rusher. But when you have guys like Vita Vea and Will Gholston and Lavonte David and Devin White, teams shouldn’t be gashing the Bucs like the Eagles did.

The thing about it is the Lions are like a junior-grade Eagles. They are built similarly and have the same mentality: Play bruising, physical ball and pound it on the ground.

Joe will see if the Bucs learned anything from the loss to the Eagles.

48 Responses to “Stopping The Run”

  1. JimBobBuc Says:

    We don’t have Suh, JzPP, and Gholston playing together.

  2. Show Me the TDs Says:

    Is today Groundhog Day? I could swear I’ve this same article at least 5 or 6 times.

  3. Leighroy Says:

    Well, there is 1 missing link from ’19 & ’20 elite run defenses and that is Suh. He was still around in ’21, but you could see his play was tailing off and I’m guessing that’s also why he only played 8 games with Philly in ’22. Not saying that’s the reason, but it’s an observation.

  4. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Bucs will play better run D this week due to being heathier on the D line and well rested. Bucs also have to play better run D to have a legitimate shot at becoming what they want to be- a playoff team. In 2019 and 2020 you had Suh and JPP on that line and it is no coincidence that when they left our effectiveness at stopping the run decreased. Hold the Lions under a 100 yards rushing and clean up these stupid penalties and we will all be celebrating a Bucs victory over the kitties.

  5. Jp09 Says:

    Pretty simple answer, Suh & JPP no longer play for the Bucs. They had something different in them, something jts & hall (who has improved) will never have. Hopefully Diaby continues to develop because he has that dawg in him. Kancy should bring that mentality too this weekend. Power, speed and a pi$$ed off attitude is how you stop the run & run for that matter

  6. Since76 Says:

    Our run defense isn’t as stout as it once was but our secondary is much improved. The defense is the only reason we are 3-1. If the offense steps up and Carry’s their own weight we will be hard to beat.

  7. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Lions are 12-3 in their last 15 games- they are one of the best teams in the NFC- they aren’t junior grade anything.

  8. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Lions have covered the Vegas number in 4 out of 5 games. Lions have won their last 3 by 14 or more-I agree that there is nothing Junior grade about Detroit.

  9. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    I’ll grant you the Suh had a great deal to do with the run defense a couple of years ago. But JPP took run plays off until the playoffs. He was a liability on running plays.

  10. DS Says:

    We don’t have the same horses especially jts, but the secondary isn’t bad tho

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’ll agree that Suh was a difference maker….

    We spent top picks on JTS, Hall & Kancey the last 3 years….it’s about time we get some decent production out of them.

    I don’t think Gibbs will play Sunday.

  12. BucU Says:

    We pretty much have to play exceptional on both sides of the ball to beat this team. However coming off the bye they should be fresher than the Lions.
    No slow starts this time!!

  13. Marine Buc Says:

    I hope the Bucs can stop the run against Detroit better than they did against the Eagles…

    That was ugly – Philly ran all over the Bucs without much resistance.

  14. Bucfan593 Says:

    Joe, any podcasts coming soon? I’m tired of listening to baseball on all the sports radio channels.

  15. Bucfan593 Says:

    Disclaimer I don’t do fantasy. Thank you anyway Todd

  16. Leighroy Says:

    Lions indeed 4-1 vs the spread this year, but can you guess who is 3-1 vs the spread this year as well? Shouldn’t be too difficult….

  17. A Bucs Fan Says:

    @Marine Buc – I think it was because Vea’s and D. White’s injuries that really
    contributed to that poor performance. Neither should have played that game. With them healthy and the encouraging development of Yaya Diaby and Logan Hall the Bucs should play better this Sunday.

  18. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Did anyone see Frank Clark in Denver reduced his salary to 841K this year? If he’s healthy how cool would it be if the Bucs traded for him. He’s been an above average run defender throughout his career and has been very successful as a pass rusher in the past…. Just a thought.

  19. aleyz2020 Says:

    Enough about the Lions!
    We may have a few holes to fill yet but we’re definitely not swiss cheese.
    They’re the ones that should be worried about the Bucs!

  20. BillyBucco Says:

    I agree that Vea and White’s injuries hurt the most. Plus, having to use White or David as a spy on Hurts often. Goff is basically immobile. They play in the trenches running so White will be ready to roll.
    If you look at what Detroit struggles with, it is Play Action. That’s why they are the #1 team stopping the run. The teams they have struggled against this year are KC #2 or n Play Action, and Seattle #3 and n Play Action. Guess who is #1?
    That’s right The Bucs.
    Add to that their secondary is banged up. I doubt we run the ball effectively, if we do we might win handily. It doesn’t really matter though, because stopping the run for them is what makes play action a liability of theirs.
    I actually don’t wanna be the best run stopper unit because the back end suffers. We need a healer balance and we have that.
    Other stats in our favor too s Res Zone. Tampa doesn’t give up chunk TDs s they have to score in the Red Zone often. 27% Red Zone on defense is legit. I’m betting Campbell goes for it on 4th a couple times this game.
    Detroit is #7 n Red Zone offense, but outside KC at 46% Red Zone defense, the other 3 wins were against teams with over 20 ranked and somewhere in the neighborhood of 60%.
    Plain and simple, we match up well against this team.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    A Bucs Fan … ‘I think it was because Vea’s and D. White’s injuries that really contributed to that poor performance. Neither should have played that game.’

    Agree totally, and especially on Devin White. He lacked burst that whole game, and seemed to have a lot of trouble shedding blocks. That more than anything left the middle very vulnerable IMO. Hopefully they’re both healed up for this game.

    Suh was unquestionably a difference-maker when it came to run defense. Gholston was really good against the run, and RNR was under-rated big time far as I’m concerned. And JPP & Shaq were both great at sealing the outside. That was a stout Front-7, even when Vea went out injured in Game 5 (Bears) of the 2020 season (we still ranked #1 in run defense that season).

    In the 3 years since 2020, several teams have gotten to be VERY GOOD at running the ball. Teams like the Dolphins, Eagles, 49ers, Ravens, Cardinals & Lions top the current rankings. And way down in the #32 spot is … the Buccaneers.

    Bucs seem to have put a premium on pass rush over stopping the run in these last couple of drafts. Logan Hall has apparently improved, but he’s no Suh. JTS has also improved, but he’s no JPP. Kancey is hopefully very good in passing situations, but against beastly OLines like the Eagles & Lions, I won’t hold my breath that he’ll excel in run defense. Our best hope IMO is to get BOTH Vita Vea AND Greg Gaines on the field more together to clog the middle. More 4-man fronts would be nice too.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    BillyBucco … ‘If you look at what Detroit struggles with, it is Play Action. Add to that their secondary is banged up. Plain and simple, we match up well against this team.’

    Fantastic analysis; those 3 statements were the 3 that I keyed on. We all know that Bucs want to run the ball (at least more than we have in the past), but sometimes you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. We’ve got certain advantages over the Lions (play action being a key one) and we need to capitalize on that. Strength against weakness.

  23. Marine Buc Says:

    @ A Bucs fan

    Vea and White’s injuries definitely were a factor against the Eagles. But I still have PTSD from that game… Brutal.

    I believe we are facing the Lions at the right time. The Bucs are as healthy as they have been all season and the Lions are pretty banged up especially in their defensive backfield. Hopefully that will open up a few opportunities for big plays from our passing game.

  24. 1#bucsfan Says:

    I feel the same JOE. I will be looking to see if we learned anything from the eagles game as well. I really hope these guys come to play physical. To beat the lions we gotta play discipline, physical mistake free football and play fast. Old school smash you in the mouth football. That’s the o my way to beat the eagles and lions.

  25. Sly Pirate Says:

    Since76 Says:
    Our run defense isn’t as stout as it once was but our secondary is much improved. The defense is the only reason we are 3-1. If the offense steps up and Carry’s their own weight we will be hard to beat


    Defense has been the best of the 3. Punting and key third down plays have contributed. That said, you’re right. An improved offense and this team is elite.

  26. stpetebucfan Says:

    I agree with BillyBucco!

    Health will determine how well the Bucs D plays! DW45 is my major concern.
    When a guy is hurting so badly he can’t take a pick six to the house he clearly has been playing hurt. Vita’s pec, Calijah’s calf, both DB’s….

    The defense has YET to actually show up. If they’re all healthy and ready to go Sunday could be exciting.

  27. ScottyMack Says:

    Man, how easy it is for pundits to allow a single game to skew the outlook. Philly is clearly the best rushing team in the league with backs running behind a truly monstrous line. Remove that game and the Bucs defense is only allowing an average of 74 yards rushing per game – pretty much the same number of yards the Bucs offense is averaging per game in rushing yards.

  28. A Bucs Fan Says:

    @ Marine Buc – I understand. It was a tough game. Nothing seemed to break in the Bucs favor and the Eagles were better that day. Injuries and health aside what’s more important is what Canales learner the Bucs can and can’t do on offense. I believe the play calling really hindered the Bucs against the eagles because of Canales’s belief that “it will work” mentality on the run game. Which is fine but sometimes you just have to go with what is working instead.

    With that said, I have a similar hope that they will attack the secondary more willingly and not run just to run…. And if they do run, run off tackle and outside. Inside runs are futile with Hainsey at Center.

  29. ScottyMack Says:

    The Bucs are closer to being a team like the Seahawks than any other team the Lions have played except the Bucs have a better defense than Seattle – the only team the Lions have lost to.

  30. Marine Buc Says:

    @ A Bucs Fan

    “I believe the play calling really hindered the Bucs against the eagles because of Canales’s belief that “it will work” mentality on the run game. Which is fine but sometimes you just have to go with what is working instead.”

    I agree – it was nice to see our OC open up the playbook against the Saints the following week… Maybe he learned a little lesson against the Eagles. The play calling was lame AF against Philly.

  31. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Scotty

    “Man, how easy it is for pundits to allow a single game to skew the outlook. Philly is clearly the best rushing team in the league with backs running behind a truly monstrous line”

    I understand – but I judge football teams based on how they play against other good teams…

    I don’t care if we can beat bad teams… IF – we make the playoffs we aren’t going to be playing against the Chicago Bears.

    So – ya – that game against Philly was as bad as it gets. Let’s not forget the Eagles ran the clock out on the Bucs 4 yard line… The score could have been uglier. The Bucs were dominated by a good team.

    Not good.

  32. A Bucs Fan Says:

    @DR you said it! Suh was the absolute difference maker in the middle. He made everyone better including Gholston and Nacho. Even DW45 and LVD benefited majorly from his play. JPP was also huge.

    I today I don’t like JTS and believe Yaya Diaby will eventually replace him. Hall is developing nicely but I agree with you on who plays the middle the best. Kancey is an unknown at this point. I would presume the best down lineman against the run are Vea, Gaines, Gholston, Greene in that order. On the outside Yaya, Anthony Nelson and Shaq have been good.

    If Shaq were 100% I’d put him over Nelson, but I think he’s been a little hobbled that past couple games with the achilles.

  33. TexasBucsFan Says:

    Forget the creamsicles and dawgs. What this team needs is FOUR Clydesdales
    Horses to stop the run. Don’t believe that the Bucs will win this game. Go Bucs!

  34. Bucs 95 Says:

    Did anyone watch get up on espn this morning when they were talking about the best teams in the nfc dan orlovsky had the saints as the 3rd best team then lions then seahawks then cowboys , No mention of the bucs at all everyone was slurping off the saints and there defense like we didnt just hang 20 plus on them 🤣🤣🤣 what a clown orlovsky

  35. ScottyMack Says:

    @Marine Buc

    I agree, however, anyone who thought this year’s Bucs team would have a chance competing against the elite NFL teams is truly delusional. If they can hang in there with average NFL teams they’re doing a heck of a lot better than most “experts” and many of the supposed Bucs fans here. Truly, with the cap hell the Bucs are in, it’s just nice to know that there is a reason to watch a game and cheer for the team against the majority of their opponents this year. At least that’s how I look at this season.

  36. Defense Rules Says:

    A Bucs Fan … Interesting list on the interior & outside. Vea, Gaines & Gholston rank 1-2-3 in my book inside also, but I’d put Hall at #4 over Greene. On the outside I think some (including myself) undervalue JTS. I’d put Shaq, Nelson & JTS over Diaby & Gill for right now (that’ll change shortly I have a feeling).

    Combined tackles I think can give you a sense of who’s around the ball on the most plays. Probably far-fetched, but Defensive Snaps per Combined Tackle seems like a decent gage to me of how well a player is taking advantage of opportunities when he’s out there. Look at the ones we’ve noted (all with 4 games) …

    o Vea … 159 snaps – 13 Comb Tackles – 12.23 S/T
    o Gaines … 112 snaps – 7 Combined Tackles – 16.00 S/T
    o Gholston … 68 snaps – 6 Combined Tackles – 11.33 S/T
    o Hall … 164 snaps – 6 Combined Tackles – 27.33 S/T
    o Greene … 112 snaps – 3 Combined Tackles – 37.33 S/T

    o Shaq … 156 snaps – 9 Combined Tackles – 17.33 S/T
    o Nelson … 103 snaps – 8 Combined Tackles – 12.88 S/T
    o JTS … 160 snaps – 10 Combined Tackles – 16.00 S/T
    o Diaby … 95 snaps – 4 Combined Tackles – 23.75 S/T
    o Gill … 5 snaps – 2 Combined Tackles – 2.5 S/T

    Gill continues to amaze me because he gets so few opportunities yet he always seems to be in the middle of the fight. So far this year, with only FIVE defensive snaps in 4 games, he’s got 2 solo tackles, 1 sack plus 1 QB hit, and 1 Forced Fumble. Admittedly that does include 83 snaps on Special Teams in 4 games, but still, he gits ‘er done.

  37. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Scotty

    I agree.

    I had the Bucs no better than 2-2 right now – so they are exceeding my expectations so far.

    I just believe it is always better to be realistic. The Bucs have a solid team but until they can beat a team like Philly, San Fran, Detroit or Buffalo I won’t get too excited.

  38. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    Solid analysis bud…

    I agree on Cam Gill. They need to figure out a way to give that guy more opportunities. At least 15-20 plays per game.

    Maybe they are hiding him for a reason… If Shaq is gone next year and JTS is not signed to his 5th year deal then Gill will be needed to step up – but he is only on a one year deal.

  39. orlbucfan Says:

    TexasBucsFan, why do you think the Bucs can’t beat Detroit? Lions are favored by just 3 points, and somewhat banged up. Bucs are rested, and coaches have had an extra week to study the Lions. It may take the Cardiac Bucs to pull it off, but they have a decent chance at an upset.

  40. Jack Clark Says:

    Our sorry as pass rush is our Achilles heel on defense, not our run stopping ability. Our rush defense is ranked top 10 so far this year allowing 94.8 yards per game. And the eagles are able to run on everybody because their quarterback can squat 600 pounds.

  41. Mark Plant Ctiy Says:

    Morale will not improve until we stop the opponents run game. We may in fact be 17th in yards per carry but we are ranked 10th against the run with a 94.8 yards per game.

  42. Defense Rules Says:

    Marine Buc … Love Shaq because he’s a warrior, but money will talk next year. The big money guys next year are …

    1 – Godwin ($27.5 mil) … they’ll restructure him?
    2 – Shaq ($26.3 mil) … he’ll turn 32 next year.
    3 – Vea ($21.0 mil) … they’ll restructure him?
    4 – Davis ($20.5 mil) … lot of money based on his availability
    5 – Wirfs ($18.6 mil) … if they do his 5th yr option?
    6 – Jensen ($17.3 mil) … that’s one we’ll have to eat
    7 – Dean ($15.4 mil) … they’ll restructure him?
    8 – Gage ($13.4 mil) … might be another one we’ll have to eat
    9 – Evans ($12.2 mil) … that’s his void year (he’s a FA).

    Big question becomes ‘Who do you keep, who do you restructure, and who do you let go?’

    Obviously their play this year will determine some of that, but so will age and how well their backups have been playing. And oh ya, COST. Should be interesting.

  43. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    For sure – next off-season will be as interesting as this past one was…

    Another big question to add – What will the Bucs do with Baker Mayfield? If he continues to play well he may want $35-$40M per season like Geno Smith.

    Plus – Winfield won’t be a cheap deal either.

    Hopefully our GM continues to draft well enough to keep the Bucs life blood flowing…

  44. A Bucs Fan Says:

    @DR I made a mistake. I meant to put Hall in front of Greene and I can definitely appreciate your table and break down of the DL/OLB group. I agree mostly except I think JTS is more of a work out warrior than a football player. Yaya Diaby looked really promising to me and the Saints game I think was his break through game.

    I feel for Gil too! The only question on him is can he stay healthy? Otherwise he he makes big plays and then is kicked off the field by wily veterans so he doesn’t take more playing time (SB reference).

  45. unbelievable Says:

    Re: the Eagles game, they were doing okay, not great, until the end of the first half… and then the gashes really started opening up.

    Defense was gassed cuz the offense couldn’t stay on the field and sustain anything.

  46. Since76 Says:

    Scotty Mac. The BUCS rushing D would have looked a lot better had our offense done anything at all theoffense didn’t do much against the Vikings either but our defense played very well.

  47. Obvious Says:

    For me, without reading another comment, the first commenter pretty much said all that needed to be said on the matter. I’m aware it’s a tad bit more in depth and complex than that but maybe not much more…

  48. garro Says:

    Hate to say it but Personnel!

    Suh was a monster and JPP could seal the edge. Diva aint getting it done since 2021. JTS looks better at holding the edge but still gets manhandled and fooled.

    White apparently has decided to only play when he rushes the passer. Dissappears when there is a tackle that needs to be made in the run game. Funny the NFL knows it. Look at his Tackle numbers 2021 compared to last season. The Eagles ran right at him. Todd still thinks he is his best player?

    When DBs are making too many tackles in the run game there is a big problem.

    Go Bucs!