“We Are Letting Our Elephants Be Elephants”

January 16th, 2024

Bucs DBs no longer in the wild.

An often-read and often-heard complaint from Bucs fans, a valid complaint, was that the Bucs had Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean playing a bunch of zone.

It irked Bucs fans that the two starting corners gave up so much space at the line of scrimmage to receivers. And it rightly irked Bucs fans even more that as a result, Davis and Dean were not playing good ball.

Earlier in the year, Bucs coach Todd Bowles was asked about this and he said the Bucs had players on the field that could not play man-to-man defense well so he had to move to a zone.

The collateral damage was it neutered Davis and Dean.

Well, here comes Zyon McCollum to the rescue. Bowles is using McCollum sort of as a joker meaning he is playing all over the field. One play he may be a safety. The next play a corner. The next play a nickel corner.

This has allowed Bowles to play more man-to-man defense. Last night in the win over the Eagles, Davis and Dean may have had their best game together this season, Dean especially. He had 10 tackles, a pass defensed and a tackle for loss.

The Eagles clearly were picking on Dean but he manned up.

Bowles mentioned McCollum being able to wear multiple hats and play well was the key in the secondary last night.

“Zyon moving around from nickel to safety to corner, so not really knowing where he is,” Bowles said. “He’s kind of an enigma right now.

“We just have to make sure right now we don’t confuse him. I think that helps in coverage when we’re trying to play a little more man because now we have our three best cover guys out there.”

So Davis and Dean not playing as much zone, Bowles seemed to have an interesting way of describing that and the improvement in the defense from when the Bucs first played the Eagles in Week 3 back in September.

“We are letting our elephants be elephants and our giraffes be giraffes,” Bowles said. “Meaning, our blitzers blitz and our cover guys cover.”

We saw the difference last night. Yeah, DeVonta Smith got his. He’s a damn good receiver. He can burn the best of teams. The rest of the Eagles’ receivers? Meh.

28 Responses to ““We Are Letting Our Elephants Be Elephants””

  1. Capt.Tim Says:

    Bowles achilles heel has been his stubbornness.
    Looks like he has learned, and grown.

    He sure did some great coaching Monday Night.
    Cant wait to see what he has in store of the Lions

  2. zzbuc Says:

    My problem with both CB is no other than their phobia for tackling….Makes me mad.

    I understand that yesterday CDIII made ONE good play, and Dean made several…

    But my main concern is their relationship with tackling, seems to me both have a kind of allergy to getting hit…

    They get exposed!!!

    But again Dean yesterday had a great game…..

  3. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I saw Dean absolutely lost and burned a couple times last night.
    Zyon is progressing nicely……… but please,
    Slow the roll on the CB praise.

  4. Beeej Says:

    Fascinating what he did last night, we had four, five, six linemen in there all at once in addition to the edge rushers

  5. m milligan Says:

    Gonna need to get the same kind of pressure on Goff for sure

  6. BuxfaninTX Says:

    Cool moment last night when the McCollum twins exchanged jerseys after the game

  7. adam from ny Says:

    yeah zyon has turned into a no joke piece for the team…

    “jared gaffe” could be in trouble sunday

  8. TomBucsFan Says:

    Zyon was better than Ryan Neal at Safety

  9. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Dooosh

    I agree re Z. McCullom.

    However I also believe that collectively our DBs had one of their best games of the season last night.

    Maybe it was because Philly was only playing with one receiver and one TE… lol.

    But regardless with the exception of 3-4 plays they were solid last night. The Bucs were blitzing on nearly every play so there was a ton of man coverage going on and our guys held up very well.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Bowles … ‘Earlier in the year, Bucs coach Todd Bowles was asked about this and he said the Bucs had players on the field that could not play man-to-man defense well so he had to move to a zone.’

    Makes sense. He knows the players capabilities much better than any of us do. Last night was a very creative way to get the best players on the field AND confuse the Eagles in the process.

    Noticed that several guys who were getting a decent number of snaps previously got very few last night. For instance, Dee Delaney got 0 def snaps, Ryan Neal got 0 def snaps, Josh Hayes got 0 def snaps, Kaevon Merriweather got 3 def snaps, and even Christian Izien only got 31 def snaps (about 50%).

    In contrast, Jamel Dean was on the field for all 59 def snaps, as were Carlton Davis & Antoine Winfield. Zion McCollum got the lion’s share of the rest with 42 def snaps (71%).

    Just looking at those numbers, it appears that Bucs went with a 4-man Secondary almost all night, although it was hard to tell because kept seeing at least 1 of the CB/Safeties playing up with the LBs. Also looks like we used 2 ILBs almost all night too, but in a rotation, based on LVD getting the full 59 snaps, Britt 33 snaps & White 26 snaps. No wonder those formations confused the Eagles. Great job Todd Bowles.

  11. SB~LV Says:

    Keep em guessing and off balance

  12. Dave Pear Says:

    Better late than never, Todd. Your comprehension of wild beasts is impressive. Wish we’d seen it against the Texans but, hey, you did it just in time.

    I’m gonna smoke the next batch of crow after cider brining it for 12 hours. Yum.

  13. gotbbucs Says:

    I’d much rather live by the sword or die by the sword.

    The zone coverage death by a thousand paper cuts is just a drawn out agonizing death.

  14. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    Some of those defensive formations were crazy… At times it looked like the Bucs were sending 9 guys and 3-4 of them drop into coverage constantly switching up were the pressure was coming from.

    Bowles is a true master at disguising his blitzes.

    Feel bad for J. Hurts. He is taking heat and there really wasn’t much more he could do last night.

  15. NJBUCS Says:

    Joe – asked the question about weather in Detroit?

  16. NJBUCS Says:


  17. stpetebucfan Says:

    “DeVonta Smith got his. He’s a damn good receiver. He can burn the best of teams.”

    Exactly Joe! He made a couple of catches that were pretty sick including one where he was covered very well.

    It seemed the only big mistake was that of Winfield in Centerfield on the big bomb and drawn two steps out of position. Troy pointed that out but they also know that might have been Winfield’s ONLY mistake this season.

    I’m honestly looking for a good game against the Lions. I think the Lions are about a year ahead of the Bucs. They played last year kind of like the Bucs this year. Once they figured out Goff was the real deal they gave him a good OL, solid running game, they are well coached. I’m not sure I see any glaring weaknesses but if all the Bucs play with their hair on fire and no drops or bunches of missed tackles I’m hoping the Bucs can give them a real challenge.

  18. Let em bake Says:

    Bowles coach of the year not looking unreasonable today…I don’t understand the nuances , but dr makes a great case for trusting in Bowles on the defensive side if the ball.

  19. orlbucfan Says:

    I agree with stpete. The Lions are a solid, well coached team. They also have tremendous motivation in that they have never won a SB. The Bucs are getting there, but I would give it one more year. This next game will be a good teacher for both the SB vets and the youngsters. Either way, the Detroit stadium is a dome and it will be rocking. I want the Bucs to look good, and give the Lions fits. I am so proud of my team.

  20. Dubcity Says:

    Man.. I’ve been screaming from the roof tops to give Bowles time. He’s a fine coach players trust and respect and play hard for.. he is an expert on the defensive side… He has proven he can coach. Build a championship caliber team and his defense will drive other teams crazy.

    Bucs are not gonna win a championship every year, but Bowles will always have a competitive NFL team capable of scary things in the playoffs if they have the pieces.


    if we aren’t aggressive as yall have wanted Bowles to be with the offense, yall have never asked yourself if the offense was even there yet… teams need time to gel and develop chemistry…

    This entire year is a testament to what actual good coaching looks like.. and fans still kick and scream the entire way.. just relax and appreciate some winning seasons.. even if this is Dungy 2.0, on this go around, I’d trust Dungy, and I trust Bowles… to learn… to develop.. and to get better… he’s the right man for the position.

  21. Rod Munch Says:

    DoooshLaRue Says:
    January 16th, 2024 at 4:29 pm
    I saw Dean absolutely lost and burned a couple times last night.
    Zyon is progressing nicely……… but please,
    Slow the roll on the CB praise.


    Chris Meyers would be so disappointed in you and your negative attitude right now.

    As for the corners – it’s 2023, if you’re playing man-to-man, you’re going to give up some big plays, but you’re also going to make some plays.

    If you had your way they’d be sitting back in a zone giving up 500 yards a game again.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    Rod … Some of those formations were wild; unprecedented. I’m convinced we were rushing 8 guys on some plays. And that we used a 4-man front a bunch last night.

    Still, Hurts threw for over 70% completions (25-of-35 for 250 yds) despite having a hurt throwing hand & being down his best receiver. And oh ya, their running game was non-existent.

    What impressed me so much last night was the complete reversal of game outcomes. In our 1st meeting, Eagles ran 78 plays and held the ball for just shy of 39 minutes. Bucs only ran 44 plays that game and barely got 21 minutes TOP.

    And yet last night the Eagles only ran 53 plays and held the ball for just shy of 26 minutes. Bucs OTOH ran 69 plays & held it for over 34 minutes TOP. No question in my mind that THAT’S the BucBall that Todd Bowles would love to play every game.

  23. JBBUCS_06 Says:

    Zyon at safety was genius by Bowles. He didn’t go back to Neal and didn’t force Delaney or Meriweather. He put the 3 best cover guys out there and went for it. I’m looking fwd to how they match up w/ Detroits WRs as they will be fully loaded vs the injured Eagles.

  24. Wild Bill Says:

    Two things really impressed me. The play of the dbs of course. But also throwing the ball on first, second and third downs. Then mixing in runs. Philly was caught off balance all night. I was stunned that Bowles finally really opened up!

  25. lanshark Says:

    Wanna know how innovative Todd was last night? On at least one play, Vita Vea was dropping back in pass coverage. Go watch the film. Blew my mind.

  26. teacherman777 Says:

    I want to Zion to be our starting FS next year.

    He’s 6-2. Runs a 4.3. He hits hard. He’s very smart.

    We need a new FS with corner back skills.

    Zion should be our starting FS alongside Winfield.

    Winfield has nickle experience.

    They can both cover like corners and tackle like safeties

  27. BucU Says:

    I’m so proud of this team man. This has been a Dec/Jan to remember!!
    GO BUCS!!

  28. BucU Says:

    I want to Zion to be our starting FS next year.

    He’s 6-2. Runs a 4.3. He hits hard. He’s very smart.

    Julio and Darious Slay would concur with you bro. Zion took them both out of the game!!