Coming Off “The Wall”

December 22nd, 2023

Rookie cornerback Christian Izien.

Few things make Joe cringe like the play of the 2023 Buccaneers secondary.

Defensive backs will make splash plays, but they’re also really good at helping quarterbacks achieve very special days against them. The Bucs have allowed the second-most yards through the air this season among all NFL teams.

It’s hard to spin that as good.

One interesting admission came this week from head coach/defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. He told the Buccaneers Radio Network that he believes rookie nickel cornerback Christian Izien hit the famed rookie wall this season but is now coming out on the other side.

The “rookie wall” typically refers to burnout suffered after spending the previous winter training for the NFL Scouting Combine and college pro days, and then diving directly into rookie minicamps and grinding deep into the NFL season, which is longer than the college season. It happens to a lot of players, but coaches rarely will admit it during a season.

Interestingly, Izien has played in every game and logged a ton of snaps. Whatever wall he encountered, the Bucs let him play through it rather than sitting him down. That may have been a function of injuries to Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis.

Regardless, Joe was glad to hear Izien is snapping out of it. The undrafted free agent out of Rutgers has a nice underdog story. He had five solo tackles, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit Sunday in Green Bay, one of his best games of the season.

Ira Kaufman Talks Todd Bowles’ Cooling Seat, Saints Loss, Baker Vs. Brady, Dave Canales Emotion, Jaguars-Bucs Predictions, And MUCH More

26 Responses to “Coming Off “The Wall””

  1. Destinjohnny Says:

    Actually I think they are playing well for the level of talent they have
    And with no pass rush

  2. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    No pass rush! I actually think our corners are decent… The starters are a bit overrated but the depth is better imo.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Izien……the best Buc DB for the money, for sure…..and didn’t even cost us a draft pick.

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    Destinjohnny … I agree with you, and think that a lot of it has to do with Todd Bowles philosophy of ‘Stopping the run is the 1st priority’. Looks like the only guys who ‘sell out’ in the pass rush are those blitzing; the rest have gap & contain responsibilities that seem to take priority. Todd seems perfectly willing to trade real estate between the 20-yard lines for the opportunity to (1) try for a turnover; and (2) try to limit the explosive plays.

    Interestingly, HALF (10) of our 20 takeaways came in the first 4 games, and we went 3-1. Bucs only had 7 takeaways in the next 7 games (when we went 1-6), and 3 of those came in the 16-13 loss to the Falcons (a game that we should NOT have lost IMO, since we had a 1st-and-goal on the 8-yard line with 1 minute to go trailing 13-10 & settled for a FG to tie it then let them win it with a FG with 4-secs to go). BOTH the offense AND the defense blew it at the very end of that game.

    And as far as explosive plays go, Bucs defense has been giving those up all season long, and especially on 3rd down it seems. That’s 1 area that we REALLY need to tighten up on if we expect to do anything in the playoffs (assuming we make it of course).

  5. infomeplease Says:

    I believe the yardage is more the result of playing a lot of soft zone. Especially when they have a lead. I believe the Bucs do better playing man or some sort of combination of the two.

  6. DS Says:

    No pass rush

  7. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Our ridiculously over compensated starting corners are just that. Do not know how it happened. Do not care why it happened. But it happened. This team will go only as far as those two merely holding up. The others on the team appear to be much better prepared.

  8. Carolina K Says:

    We do have some really good players, when we execute!

  9. D-Rok Says:

    One thing is for sure in this fan’s mind: Izien and McCollum are the future of this defensive backfield. Davis/Dean combo – we’ll see, but not sold on them.

    Go Bucs ! ! !

  10. BUCS4LIFE Says:

    That kid has huge potential. I’m glad to hear this.

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Looking back over the last 3 games, Izien has 12 solo tackles (plus 1 assist), 1 QB hit plus 1 TFL in 143 def snaps. And oh ya, no missed tackles. Not bad for an undrafted rookie.

  12. Statguy Says:

    We need to use white like Parsons on the edge instead of having Shaq out there

  13. HC Grover Says:

    No Worries….on to the Super Bowl.

  14. Joe in Michigan Says:

    HC Grover Says:
    December 22nd, 2023 at 6:03 pm
    No Worries….on to the Super Bowl.
    Why do you even follow the Bucs? To whine that they won’t win the Super Bowl this year? They’ve won 2 since 1976. Get a life.

  15. #99 the big fella Says:

    Joe in Michigan, I used to get really mad at HC Grover’s posts. I really don’t think he is trying to upset anyone. He is really a bucs fan it took me a while to understand his sarcasm.. Don’t let it get to you

  16. Jack Clark Says:

    Nobody’s talking about the Chief’s huge offensive drop off after Eric Beineimy left because there’s a conspiracy to not give him the credit he deserves

  17. Beej Says:

    #99 the big fella Says:
    December 22nd, 2023 at 7:36 pm
    Joe in Michigan, I used to get really mad at HC Grover’s posts. I really don’t think he is trying to upset anyone. He is really a bucs fan it took me a while to understand his sarcasm.. Don’t let it get to you


    I’ve been seeing them non-stop for 3 years, never changes

  18. Joshua porter Says:

    I totally agree with the no pass rush crowd. It’s ridiculous at times and it don’t matter if there starters or back-ups still no pressure….

  19. Lakeland Steve Says:

    Have to agree with several on here, the secondary would be a hell of a lot better if our front four could get a pass rush. Unfortunately we have to blitz to get a rush which hurts our secondary play. Don’t think there is much that can be done this year. Looks like Lawrence might play for the jags after all, and he is pretty good when blitzed. So he may look like the next Joe Montana on Sunday.

  20. Pickgrin Says:

    For a rookie UDFA thrust into a starting role from game 1, Izien has been very solid IMO.

    Not many rookies earn a starting position from day 1.

    We had 3 this year! Kancey, Mauch and Izien. And Diaby is now a starter as well.

    All 4 rookie starters are playing beyond their experience level. Bodes well for the future and helps make up for the apparent misses on JTS and Hall.

  21. Proudbucsfan Says:

    I like the kid he’s always hustling and he tackles like AW maybe we will move him to safety next season because he’ll be better than Neil at safety. I also think our secondary is dragged down because of our pass rush, it hasn’t been the same since JPP left.

  22. rrsrq Says:

    Lots of yards, but that red zone defense kep six off the board

  23. garro Says:

    Iziens play has been a big help this year. We had major worries this season at slot corner and he has largely put those to rest. Great stat line for him in GB Sunday. He tackles But a 77% comp rate for the season.

    The stat that I am not seeing from many of our DBs is passes defensed. We are not getting hands on footballs. Winfield has eleven, Davis has nine (despite missing games), McCollum has eight, The rest are not even close.

    Izien has two. Delaney has four (40% of snaps), Dean three. Weak. Makes some sense when I look at how teams throw against us. Add our crap zone with 10 yard cushions and it probably should be worse.

    Go Bucs!

  24. teacherman777 Says:

    Izien has been a godsend!

    He reminds me a lot of Winfield.

    A 5-8 CB/LB!

    Izien is one of our best tacklers.

    He’s ideally built for nickle.

    He’s stocky and cut! The first time I saw him during training camp, I was like damn! Who is that!?

    Izien for me? Counts as a draft pick.

    A 7th round starter!

    Hayes is also becoming a legit gunner.

    And Merriweather is playing solid ball!

    Bowles and Licht we trust!

    Go Bucs!

  25. BucsFan Says:

    Maybe the secondary can gel at the right time of the year which would be now. Goooooo Buccsssss

  26. Cobraboy Says:

    No pass rush? Are not the Bucs near the top in QB pressures?