What Happened To The Secondary?

December 27th, 2023

Pass defense crashed.

Last year the Bucs’ pass defense ranked No. 9 in the NFL, allowing 203 yards a game through the air. That, despite a very limited edge rush and its star safety playing out of position at nickel corner.

This spring, with Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean back and Antoine Winfield back at safety where he should have left, secondary was not remotely a worry for Joe.

Then, splat!

Winfield isn’t the problem. He’s arguably the Bucs’ best defender, a flat out gamewrecker. He should be All-Pro. But the Bucs secondary has absolutely collapsed. After 15 games the Bucs are currently the worst pass defense in the NFL, rock bottom at No. 32.

The Bucs allow 264 yards a game.

What happened? It’s difficult for Joe to believe that Davis and Dean have virtually overnight turned into E.J. Biggers and Ryan Smith.

Granted, Dean and Davis have had little edge rush to bail them out. If anything, a lack of an edge rush has hung them out to dry.

Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett has 3.5 sacks in his last 10 games. Fellow edge rusher/outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has one sack in his last 10 games. Finally, Bucs coach Todd Bowles finally got fed up and benched JTS and began starting YaYa Diaby the last five games. The rookie now leads the Bucs with 6.5 sacks.

However, even with Diaby starting, the Bucs pass defense is poor. Evan dismal Desmond Ridder had a career day against the Bucs three weeks ago.

So Joe really isn’t sure of the issues.

It’s difficult for Joe to believe that Davis and Dean have fully lost the ability to cover receivers in less than a year.

45 Responses to “What Happened To The Secondary?”

  1. Tushar Garg Says:

    The loss of Edwards as a ball hawk is being overlooked as well. It also looks like OC’s have started figure out the Bowles defense and able to pick up holes in the secondary. Add a safety that can cover, change up a few looks in the secondary and we should be back on track. Bowles is playing tentative given some of the pieces missing for him to run his defense (note his frustration on the sidelines when he knows the execution sucked because players can’t run what he called).

  2. BucsBeast Says:

    McCollum is 100% Biggers 2.0. But, the problem is blitzing while playing off man (10 yards deep) zone coverage. This had been a Bolwes staple and it gets beat more then its successful. Pay attention. It happens every game.

  3. Joe D. Says:

    Dean & Davis are under preforming from what they’ve shown in the past, the difference between Keanu Neal, and Rayn Neal for much of season was vast, Devin White hasn’t been great in coverage either, savvy veteran Logan Ryan vs. rookie greenhorn Izien is going to be a difference too. Also, I think Bowels blitzing even more than normal because the edge rush has been so lousy until the last few weeks, I think because the ren defense has been weak, also there’s been some selling out to stop the run, it all adds up.

  4. Larrd Says:

    They have been hurt all year. Hopefully, they can get healthy for a playoff run. They have done it before!

  5. BUCS SQUAT Says:

    They got the money

  6. Hammerhead Says:

    Fingers crossed for Dean/Davis they will be important.

  7. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    Nobody likes to stink it up in front of their peers, coaches and owners. I’ve seen some signs recently of improvement from time to time. Hopefully they dial it up. If not, it’ll be a long off season complete with changes. Thats life in the big city.

  8. SB Says:

    “The Bucs allow 64 yards a game.”
    Joe. I am confused. Please explain this statement and the context.

    juxtapose it with “Last year the Bucs’ pass defense ranked No. 9 in the NFL, allowing 203 yards a game through the air.”

    So confused.

  9. FortMyersDave Says:

    SB, perhaps Joe meant 64 more yards a game than last year, 267 yards a game sounds about right for the Bucs’ passing D, probably neck and neck with Washington for #32 in the rankings.

  10. Beeej Says:

    He left off a 2, Bucs allow 264.1 per game, worst in the NFL. I have to think CD3 and Dean are in a scheme they aren’t good with, like Winfield was last year. Other team gets the ball, it’s almost a given they’re gonna dink and dunk all the way down the field, only question being do they hold them to a field goal or not. Atlanta about shut us down the whole game by using press coverage against Evans and Godwin, don’t see why we can’t try the same now and again

  11. garro Says:

    I am right there with you Joe.

    Against the Jags we mixed it up a bit more but still were not where we need to be. I don’t know. Third down looked better Sunday 3-9. Turnovers and sacks were up. Still 264 yards.

    Go Bucs!

  12. CHRISTOS Says:

    For sure we take into account that the pass rush (especially the 4man pass rush) is average.
    With that said i think a serious issue with the coverage is that most of the time the DBs are playing way too soft and passive. Playing 10 yds off and not being aggressive. I dont know if its because of scheme or because they are afraid of getting beat deep but the coverage is passive. Too many passes are uncontested. Be a little more aggressive, mix it up.

  13. RagingBrisket Says:

    When is someone, anyone, in the media going to ask Bowles directly why the hell so many receivers and tight ends are running so wide aas open in his defense? This should be the first damn question after every single game. It’s embarrassing to watch.

  14. bob in valrico Says:

    Todd Bowles defense depends on the blitz getting to opposing QB before they can exploit the holes left in the defense by blitzing players. IMO, that’s why Devin White can’t blitz on every play. With the corners playing back it, leaves a lot of the
    area for one MLB and the slot corner to cover. Its kind of like a
    Mike Smith defense to not give up big plays, and in theory tighten up when the field gets shorter and there is less ground to cover.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    There’s surely multiple reasons why our defense has struggled this year between the 20s: injuries, multiple new players/starters, some guys having meh years (JTS, Shaq, Neal among others?), etc. The fact that we’re #11 in Points Allowed is what amazes me, because our Total Yards Allowed is REALLY bad (we’ve actually climbed to #24 ranking). Bucs have done quite well in Red Zone defense is what it comes down to (ranked #4 in Red Zone TDs Allowed).

    I still wonder though why we can ‘stiffen’ in the Red Zone but play so poorly outside of it. Looks like we’re focusing so much on stopping the run that we’re getting eaten alive by the pass. And not just the short pass; the deep pass also at times. Strange defense this year.

  16. Buc4evr Says:

    There is so much miscommunication in the secondary it’s not funny. Opponents WRs and TEs consistently run to open uncovered areas in the field and just wait for the ball and often there is no defender within ten yards. Seems like the Bucs are so worried about a WR getting behind them that they coached to allow short receptions? IDK what the real issue is, but it is pathetic watching this defense trying to stop third downs.

  17. WillieG Says:

    Maybe some players just can’t handle the big payday?

  18. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Regardless of all the lipstick you guys have been putting on Bowles, he still isn’t that good of a HC. If he’s responsible for anything, it’s taking the chains off Canales’ offense. Otherwise, this team is winning in spite of his timid approach to the game.

  19. Beeej Says:

    Lol, I remember Valrico Bob from Lionel and Mark Larson shows

  20. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We miss Edwards & SMB…….and, we are playing way too loose…..pass rush is ineffective…..blitzes not working….no batted balls.

  21. Leighroy Says:

    Comparing any of these guys to EJ Biggers shows that people have forgotten just how awful EJ Biggers actually was.

    What would this 32ns ranked secondary look like WITHOUT AWjr? Gah, scary thought!

  22. BucaneroJim Says:

    Its the coaching scheme this year. I keep seeing 2 or 3 Bucs defenders standing soft several yards behind a receiver, watch him catch the ball and then rush up to tackle – no pressing. Its the defense’s version of running up the gut on first and second downs. Obviously, not working.

  23. PSL Bob Says:

    Joe, might want to revise your stat, “The Bucs allow 64 yards a game.”

  24. Pewter power Says:

    It’s the stupid zone scheme even though he drafted press corners and yes Dean and Davis are playing that bad or injured. At the very least they aren’t living up to their contracts

    I still haven’t forgive this joke of a coach for this zone that let the rams march right down the field and score to knock us out of the playoffs. Even then this the guy was subbing safeties and what happens when whitehead leaves? Cooper Kup delivers the dagger. His scheme is fine when he has elite pass rushes and those days are gone and his defense sucks

  25. RBUC Says:

    When I watch Dean I see a lack of instinct & stiffness in a CB that is the WORST of any football player I have ever seen,so if I can see that when coaches evaluate tape they MUST see similar play!! BEFORE HE GOT PAID HE WAS NEVER THIS BAD so I’m thinking their decision to play such soft zone has something to do with it!

  26. Easy The Great Says:

    You have big physical DBs (who are man coverage corners) who play 10 yards off the LOS.

  27. Andrew Fish Says:

    keep playing that soft coverage. its doing great.

  28. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    I know the Joes have interns in the building…. Teach them to proofread. I’ve been reading this site for years and it’s always been an annoying issue. I stopped reading after “64 yards passing” a little effort goes a long way Joes.

  29. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Why aren’t they making Markees Watts active on game day and rotate in with Shaq?

  30. Since76 Says:

    The offense hasn’t played well most of the year. All the three and outs get you tired when you have to go right back out after a stop. If the offense played all year like the last two weeks it would be different. The defense is why we have a chance in the playoffs now. Not the offense. The defense has played well most of the the year. Offense not so much.

  31. orlbucfan Says:

    BigPoppa: I do proofreading/copy editing in my head. Did it professionally for 5 years. Anyway, part of the problem is we lost Whitehead and Edwards. However, it looks like McCollum and Izien are starting to develop. Takes time, y’know. The other item is this is Bowles’ FIRST year as an actual HC of the Bucs. Why do you think he and Licht hunted the League in the off-season, and offered Canales the OC job? That way Bowles could concentrate on his strength: defense. How many of you on here have been a HC? Probably zero judging from all the comments I’ve read over the years.

  32. 1#bucsfan Says:

    When in man to man we do much better. It’s when we play zone we have WRs and TEs running wide arse open. I fully believe it’s play calling and not playing to our players strengths.

  33. Kalind Says:

    Gravediggers eh? Yea. Maybe ours in a few weeks.

  34. BillyBucco Says:

    Playing off coverage happens for every team in the league.
    Don’t expect Bowles to change anything after a 4 game win streak.
    The pass rush will improve down the stretch and into the playoffs also.
    Problem with MORE zone coverage is that certain teams like the 49ers will dink and dunk you to death. Zone definitely works better for some teams.
    You have to play it against elite WRs some.
    It is actually what allowed us to win against the Vikings and helped shut down Jefferson in the 2nd half.
    What I hate the MOST, is when we play it in a 3rd and 20 situation and only rush 3. Send the house and come up and tackle. It’s pretty simple. Either they have a successful screen or they punt.
    Also at least SHOW man from time to time. We let a roomie QB decide pre snap he is going to pick up 7 yards with a simple stop route. Then a broken tackle exasperates the situation.
    Just CONFUSE the QB when possible and with Lawerence saying he was, Goal Achieved.

  35. bucsfan951 Says:

    my thoughts?…

    10 yard cushion on the receivers along with a blitz that isnt getting home. also, not sure if they play a ton of zone but if they are and the pass rush simply isnt there, that is a recipe for disaster.

  36. Bosch Says:

    Dean and Davis were only average on their best day. And now they are also fat, dumb and happy. Time to move on from this pair.

  37. Deadwood South Dakota Says:

    Those 2 suck. Davis either gets beat or hurt. When he does make a play it’s so rare he celebrates . Dean is just terrible. the pass defense will be a big hole for us in the playoffs because those quarterbacks will eat our secondary apart. Who would have thought our pass defense would be so terrible .

  38. Dave Pear Says:

    Todd insists on playing zone bust. That’s all. Todd can’t coach assignments.

  39. infomeplease Says:

    Too much “soft zone”. TB doesn’t want to get deep and is willing to give up 15 to 20 yards at a pop. That adds up !!

  40. BUCS4LIFE Says:

    I’m at a loss myself but either way they wouldn’t be on the field if I had any say at all.

  41. Bucsfantim Says:

    I think what’s happened is we have let some very good role players and depth pieces leave the last few years, but outside of Antoine Winfield we haven’t anyone even come close to replicating their play.

    Let’s play a game: How do you feel about out roleplayers and depth (McCollum, Delaney, Neal, Izien)

    Vs the guys we used to have at those spots:
    – Sean Murphy Bunting
    – Jordan Whitehead
    – Mile Edwards
    – Keith Tandy

  42. Joshua porter Says:

    Izen isn’t very good and can only play in a zone defense. To slow to keep up with wr. One of Todd’s side projects that isn’t making plays and don’t forget we have get burnt Neal also back there letting people run by him….

  43. TampabayDJ Says:

    It’s the lack of depth that comes with having zero cap room this year.
    Also, the difference between our Bucs 32nd pass D and number 15 pass D is only about 25 yards per game. Same thing with the Offense having the 15th overall scoring and the 10th, is us having 1 less TD , ALL YEAR .
    The stats are soo slim and Is vague that they measure it in 21.7 points a game. Well if we scored 1 more TD then we jump ahead of 5 teams who are at 21.8 , 21.9 , etc.. Winning is all I care about. I don’t care if we win like the Raiders the other night and have 100 total yards going into the last drive of the game, but we’re up on KC 20 – 7 …. Go Bucs

  44. ATLBuc Says:

    BucsBeast Says:
    December 27th, 2023 at 12:09 am
    McCollum is 100% Biggers 2.0. But, the problem is blitzing while playing off man (10 yards deep) zone coverage. This had been a Bolwes staple and it gets beat more then its successful. Pay attention. It happens every game.

    Yep!! 3rd and 5, 10 yards off!

  45. Bucs96NYC Says:

    The corners unlike the Arians days no longer play WRs @ the line of scrimmage. They give up easy routes & allow all the underneath stuff now. It seems their focus has turned to being great in the red zone. They’re ranked top 5 I believe in the red zone. It’s like shifted from a bend don’t break defense now vs fighting for every blade of grass mentality.