Let Us Count The Ways

November 24th, 2023

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Buc fans are hoping their misery is just a passing fancy.

During a 1-5 tailspin, the Bucs have apparently forgotten how to play pass defense. At times, it’s been downright embarrassing to see the gaps between opposing targets and the nearest Tampa Bay defender.

Now comes word that cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean might not be available for Sunday’s matchup at Indianapolis.

Can the backups do any worse?

Position coach Kevin Ross, who registered 26 interceptions in his first seven seasons as a Chiefs defensive back, has been preaching for years that Dean and Davis aren’t posting enough takeaways to be considered elite.

The message hasn’t gotten through.

Another chance for Zyon McCollum to shine, Ira Kaufman explains.

Davis has played 70 games at the pro level and he is stuck on 7 career picks. In his 66 games, Dean has also intercepted 7 passes. This year, they don’t have a pick between them.

Heck, even Will Gholston’s got one.

With the exception of safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who is playing at an All-Pro level, Tampa Bay’s secondary has emerged as a first-class concern. Opposing quarterbacks are feasting since the bye week — and it’s not like the Bucs have been facing Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert or Lamar Jackson.

In the past six games, the Bucs are allowing a 70 percent completion rate and an average of 321 passing yards. Quarterbacks have thrown 12 TDs and only two interceptions in that span.

Two of those games came against rookie passers, although Houston’s C.J. Stroud is shredding every defense he sees these days. Another game came against Atlanta’s Desmond Ridder, who won despite losing three fumbles in the red zone. Two weeks later, he lost his starting job to Taylor Heinicke, although Ridder has now apparently regained his No 1 role.

For the season, Tampa Bay’s pass defense hasn’t been nearly good enough.

Let us count the ways.

The Bucs rank last in the NFC with only 36 passes defended.

The Bucs rank last in the NFC in average yards yielded per pass attempt.

The Bucs rank last in the NFC in average passing yards allowed per game.

Those are not the kind of numbers the Glazers expect from a team led by a defensive-minded coach.

What went wrong? For starters, the Buc pass rush isn’t as steady and relentless as it used to be. Although Tampa Bay’s 29 sacks rank No. 13 in the league, opposing quarterbacks are feeling less pressured and are hit less often.

The Bucs need the September version of cornerback Christian Izien to return Sunday.

Quite simply, they have been too comfortable in the pocket — and that translates into an uncomfortable feeling for Buc Nation. While rush and coverage always go hand in hand, the lack of consistent heat up front doesn’t fully explain why receivers are so open so often.

Buc fans can live with opposing wideouts coming down with contested catches. Hey, that’s football, and the other guys get paid, too. That’s not what is happening, though, and all this Southern hospitality has to stop now.

Sunday looks like a good time to tighten up.

In the past two years, Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew has thrown 11 TD passes and nine interceptions. That’s why he’s a backup, playing only because rookie Anthony Richardson is hurt. The only time the Colts have passed for more than 300 yards this season came in a 37-20 loss at Jacksonville, when Minshew threw 55 times.

Bowles made his bones in this league by disrupting offenses with disguised looks and creative pressure. That hasn’t been the case most of the season and this pass defense is reeling. Even if Dean and Davis are sidelined, there’s no excuse for allowing a journeyman like Minshew to have his way.

It’s time to unleash the young hounds.

26 Responses to “Let Us Count The Ways”

  1. Popcorn Mike Says:

    Ross is right. My question is, where does the problem lye. Is it the players, the position coach or Bowles since he is the coordinator

  2. Bucs Guy Says:

    It’s the coach. Bucs play way too much off coverage zone. Just look at how often the CBs line up with 10+ yard cushions.

  3. Hail2dabucs Says:

    Its just time for this stupid coach to go and a lot of players should hit the door with him . I have seen enough of this crap..bye bye and good riddance.

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    Ira … ‘Although Tampa Bay’s 29 sacks rank No. 13 in the league, opposing quarterbacks are feeling less pressured and are hit less often.’

    Right on Sage. Bucs are on-track to get 49-50 sacks this season Ira, the most since the 2000 Bucs had 55 sacks. And since we’re (supposedly) hitting the weaker part of our schedule, we MAY actually get more sacks than that.

    Although our sack rate is quite good, your point about opposing QBs feeling ‘less pressured’ and hit ‘less often’ is key IMO. We’ve gotten 59 QB Hits this season, potentially putting us on-track for 100 QB Hits this year. Last year we had 104 QB Hits, but in our last winning season (2021) we had 127 QB Hits. So yea verily, we need MORE. Much more.

    Might be wrong here, but I tend to think that opponents have figured out how to defeat this young Bucs’ defense … run at them. Early and often & all over the field. Force them to hold their gaps & to play contain FIRST to slow down the pass rush.

    In 2021 opponents ran on us on 33.5% of their plays (our run defense ranked #3). In 2022 they ran on us on 42.7% of their plays (our run defense ranked #15). In 2023 they’re running on us on 38% (our run defense ranks #5). Got a hunch that Bowles has re-emphasized run defense (after last year’s huge drop-off); we’re doing better this year but it’s at the expense of the pass rush.

    Bowles love of the blitz also seems to be changing. This season we’re blitzing an average of 17 times a game. In 2022 we blitzed at a rate of between 14-15 times a game. But in 2021 we were blitzing at a rate of between 31-32 times a game. The sacks/game has stayed relatively consistent all 3 years, but the QB Hits/game was far greater when we blitzed more (in 2021).

    MAYBE there’s a difference in what a DC can do when he has guys like Vea, Suh, JPP upfront (2021) than what he can do when he has Vea, JTS & Hall (today). Maybe?

  5. Calogero Says:

    I see only two major problems, the offensive line and the corners (Dean and Davis). The offensive line often causes Mayfield to pass while running for his life. Dean and Davis don’t break-up passes or intercept them. Everyone else is great.

  6. ModHairKen Says:

    Do you think that just maybe Licht is the problem here, with the DBs? He drafted all of them. A lot of 2nd and 3rd round picks. He also signed Beavis and Butthead to big contracts and brought in Neal.

    Maybe get some better guidance next draft, Jason.

  7. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Perhaps play Diaby 80 percent , and all German Bucs Fans say Ya Ya.

  8. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Dean is soft. He comes out of every game. What a complete waste of cap space.

  9. Lt. Dan Says:

    “Bowles made his bones in this league by disrupting offenses with disguised looks and creative pressure.”

    At what point do we say living on reputation is just BS and has gotten really old. Look at Bowles Jets history and Bucs history. Enough already. Glazers, “Go get a real coach!”.

  10. Beeej Says:

    Dean and Davis have NEVER gotten picks, but they have always been very good cover corners, and NOW they aren’t even THAT. I have to assume it’s the new scheme, which is probably in place because of some other reason, probably limitations in other personnel (cough cough Neal)

    We ARE getting a lot of sacks, but it seems we only get them on blitzes. Is there a stat that tracks that? We only blitz 35-40% of the time, so the other 60-65%, secondary is exposed hard

  11. Razor Ramone Says:

    Can’t get pressure with 4 guys if JTS or Hall are on the field.

  12. Jeff Says:

    Dean and Davis are average CB’s. Simple as that. Now, put them in a trash scheme, and this is what you get. Clueless Todd needs to go. He failed in NY and he failed in Tampa. Got lucky and won a SB with Tampa as a D coordinator. Only reason he won was because of the Chiefs O line injuries. If the Chiefs were healthy, the Bucs would have lost. Look at what Todd did the following year against the Rams. That was the REAL Clueless Todd at work. He’s a joke and the Glazers should have fired him already.

  13. mick Says:

    Why are you guys always blaming the defense when our defense is ranked higher than our offense?

  14. Bojim Says:

    Minshew will have a career day.

  15. Front Four Says:

    Feels like we only have three guys playing Buc level D – VV, LVD, Winfield. There’s No push up front other than VV and he’s only on the field 50% of the time. Shaq is not making a difference. JTS never has. Hall has made progress, but his role in this D is Gholsten’s, not flashy just hold down the fort. Kancey looks to be coming along and so does YaYa. No idea what’s going on behind the line. D White looks like he’s playing half speed – has he been hurt? Same with Davis – if he’s battling turf toe he probably shouldn’t even be on the field. We could have signed Whitehead for the money wasted on Fournette. Not sure what’s going on with slot CB. Dean is up and down when he plays. And then there’s Neal….

  16. Alanbucsfan Says:

    D White is also misused- He plays like he overanalyzes every play and his natural talents are wasted- Simplify his reads and the Bucs pressure will improve.
    JTS has no impact on any game – maybe he could be re-positioned at LB

  17. Voice of Truth Says:

    Absolutely brutal stats – impossible to ignore and completely indicative of how far we have fallen under the misguided leadership of Todd

    Love my Bucs and can’t wait for the rebuild to begin – this staff is lost in space and it doesn’t matter if we beat a few cream puffs to end the season, this group is going no where long term

  18. infomeplease Says:

    The Bucs rank last in the NFC with only 36 passes defended.

    The Bucs rank last in the NFC in average yards yielded per pass attempt.

    The Bucs rank last in the NFC in average passing yards allowed per game.

    This team is lead by a defensive guru? Apparently his schemes have become irrelevant! Simply put…It’s time for a coaching change!!

  19. It's Corn Says:

    Was stupid of Licht to put so much money into cornerbacks. Especially ones who get hurt a lot. I’m guessing this was at Todd Bowles’s request but who knows.

    Bowles really doesn’t seem to know how to be a head coach… seems like he still wants to be a coordinator. Unfortunately he isn’t doing either well.

  20. realistic-optimistic Says:

    So Ira dings Minshew for only having a single 300-yard game? Can we hold our own QB to that same standard, please? Mayfield also has ONE 300-yard game (all the way back in week 2!). Even worse, he has fewer than 250 yards in 6 separate games this year! Two of those games are under 200 yards! And some around here think the team should enter the “baker sweepstakes.” sheesh

    I fully appreciate that this article is about the failing defense (agree completely). But the defense is not going to be fixed by pouring money on a backup QB. Definitely not going to be fixed if Bowles is retained.

  21. D-Rok Says:

    Bacon, tomatoes, lettuce…let us count our ways of misery, indeed!

  22. mick Says:

    Let’s see, in the points-per-game stat, our defense is ranked #9 and our offense is ranked #23. Ruh-roh. Can’t draw attention to Baker so let’s write articles about how our defense is the problem!

  23. orlbucfan Says:

    Ira, you and every other football expert carry on about defenses getting sacks. Bucs got 4 last week. The problem was Canales more than the secondary. This is Bowles’ first full season as an actual Bucs HC. He’s not dealing with BA nor Methusaleh Brady as HCs. I am just a fan, but I’ve been one for 43 years. I educate myself the best I can cos I love the Bucs. Needless to say, I am over the fire-Bowles crap, and we gotta win a Stupid Bowl this year. Neither will happen. So what? At least, we won’t be bottom feeders this season.

  24. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Can you pick 2 of those stats for the reason for our last place status? Davis and Dean don’t get passes defensed and interceptions. Burnt toast SMB got more than both together it seems. Now they both have taken over the nickname Burnt Toast and also made a new one….the Brittle Boys. I’ve seen peanut brittle harder to crack than them two!

  25. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Guys shhhh on the Baker bashing, you’ll draw the ire and chastisement of the Bakette3 cheerleader squad; WynonaJoeanna Tonya asks and tbbbucs3

  26. Irish Laughter Says:

    Prior three years, our Bucs either won the Super Bowl, or should have won multiple Super Bowls with better coaching in the secondary (LA melt down in the last few seconds). The common denominator is Coach Bowles. Greatness is not defined by a one time effort. Greatness is repeated “outstanding” play/coaching over the long periods of time. Bowles had one moment in Super Bowl 55, after that it has been a failure (my opinion).