Letting “Elephants Be Elephants” Has Helped Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean

January 21st, 2024

Jamel Dean explains.

Last week Bucs coach Todd Bowles said one reason for the improved defense was that he was “letting our elephants be elephants and our giraffes be giraffes.”

What this meant was that Bowles set up his defensive players to play in a manner that highlighted their skillsets.

When the Bucs struggled with pass defense earlier this season, Bowles noted that he had Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean playing more zone than they normally would because others who were on the field couldn’t play man-to-man.

The problem was, Davis and Dean specialized in man-to-man defense. So playing more zone neutered Davis and Dean. Joe is convinced this is one big reason why the Bucs finished ranked 27th in the regular season in passing yards allowed.

Bowles noted he’s now playing more man defense.

And this has been good news for Dean.

“That’s basically my strength,” Dean said of playing man defense. “I’ve played that my whole life. In college we were basically a press-man team. And I figured when [Bowles and the Bucs] drafted [Dean], that’s what he wanted.”

So against the Eagles, playing more man defense, the Bucs held Philadelphia to 250 yards passing. That’s at the Bucs’ average (248 yards). Previously, the Bucs were the worst in the NFL in giving up passing yards a game until Bowles began adjusting his coverages. (Facing the Panthers in Week 18 helped, too.)

“Like [Bowles] said, let the elephants be elephants and the giraffes be giraffes,” Dean said.

Now the Bucs just need some tigers to join in to help limit Detroit.

18 Responses to “Letting “Elephants Be Elephants” Has Helped Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean”

  1. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    I would love to hear coach Bowles say he neutered his two best cover corners basically turning them into overpriced lawnchairs because of others. Thats like saying since others couldn’t do their job, I took my two best cover guys and turned into rubbish. Now that friends makes no logic. Time for bed, I won’t accept it. Go Bucs

  2. itzok Says:

    f*** it. who cares about the previous 19 weeks. its time to lock down remind Goff who he really is and why LA got rid of him. He will collapse under pressure. His dufus head coach will make some critical coaching calls passing up field goals and playing madden on 4th downs. Block Hutchison, pass often and expose the lions weak pass defense. Same Ol Lions. Their goal was to make the playoffs and win one game. mission accomplished. Can’t wait to see them make the playoffs in another 30 years. They’ve never won a superbowl and never will. Time for a real franchise to show them how its done.

  3. DungyDance Says:

    Very encouraging. This was a big part of the “stubborn” accusations earlier this year.

    Maybe, just maybe….

  4. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Dungy Dance: Absolutely.

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    Sometimes you end up losing a battle to win the war. Todd Bowles knows his players MUCH BETTER than any of us do. He was dealing with 3 experienced guys in the Secondary … Davis (12 games, 715 snaps), Dean (13 games, 713 snaps), Winfield (17 games, 1100 snaps) who missed 9 games total … plus a ton of youngsters … Izien (17 games 719 snaps), McCollum (17 games, 785 snaps), plus Merriweather, Russell, Hayes, Pitts who all needed to gain experience in this complicated defense. Add in Neal (a liability who got over 50% of the snaps) and Delaney (a strength who got 40% of the snaps) and that Secondary was a real challenge.

    It looks like Bowles’ strategy in most games was to give up territory (yardage?) but limit the damage (points?) by playing solid run defense, hoping for turnovers (our 26 T/Os did rank us #12) and playing tighter Red Zone defense (our Red Zone TD % allowed of 42.6% did rank us #3 in the NFL). Overall we sucked at Pass Defense (#29), but were very good at Run Defense (#5) and did very well at limiting the damage (#7 in Points Allowed). His strategy worked. although it was mind-bogglingly frustrating to watch I will admit.

  6. FrontFour Says:

    @Defense Rules – appreciate the numbers to explain Bowles approach. Also explains why he brought along Diaby until he could figure out the whole scheme. Pretty sure you could do the same thing for the offense. Looking at our roster I think Bowles has done a good job.

  7. orlbucfan Says:

    Thanks again, DR. Go Bucs!!

  8. Marky Mark Says:

    Yea, all the coaches in the different pro sports make such Animal comparisons. Lightning..Let our Polar Bears be polar Bears and our Moose be Moose”. Rowdies. Let our Ronaldo,s be Ronaldo,s and our Messi,s be Messi,s…Oops not the same comparisons exactly but Ronaldo is tall and Messi is not. besides Messi plays in the state of Florida.

  9. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    And let Lions be Pussy cats.

  10. Jmarkbuc Says:

    This game is going to largely rely on what Dean and Davis do and don’t do.

  11. stpetebucfan Says:


    Another great post.

  12. Austin Says:

    Man if we can let Davis and Dean get up in their grills and play sticky man like we want/need them too that would be aaaawesome… thats even their main skill! Let them play their ball, it’ll be better

  13. Jeremy Goins Says:

    Go BUCS!!!!! Let’s hope HC TB has a nice defensive scheme that shuts down Detroit. That’s what he did last week and it worked great. He did the same in the Superbowl and we see how that went

  14. Walkthe plankbuc4life Says:

    We are playing with house money! I expect the Bucs to loose anything more is icing on the cake. We shouldn’t even be here but we are. I hope the defence can keep it close, because a close loss would be real stepping stone for next year. Nobody talks about it, but I am pretty sure we have the best special teams in the league. Defence keeps it close and great special teams and Baker wakes up dangerous, who knows. GO BUCS!!!!!

  15. Bucs'n'Bucks Says:

    Great post! And you’re so right about being frustrating. Rooting for the Bucs reminds me of my golf game. You get that one perfect birdie (great drive, great approach, awesome putt) and you imagine that on every tee from then on. That’s what keeps you coming back….hope.

    So today, let’s all hope for another great Tampa Bay win!!

  16. 941Boltsfan Says:

    & Bears! OH MY!

  17. Rod Munch Says:

    Defense Rules – But you’re looking at season numbers, when the Bucs defense has basically switched schemes since midseason.

    Any breakdown on the amount of zone/man they played vs the Eagles – you see that number anywhere?

    Certainly by the eye test it appears much more mixed now – when early in the season they were literally playing zone over 95% of the time.

    But the Bucs defense under Bowles generally gives up yards, in exchange for turnovers and pressure and limiting scoring in the redzone.

  18. HeavyE Says:

    Davis and Dean, are overrated and overpaid, they say they like man 2 man, but still give up catches and yards, every week! Both of them can’t catch either, and what makes matters worst, they both play off at least 10-12 yards, and still can’t cover. We have to get better corners for next year….Go BUCS!!!!