Bucs Defense Is Good, But Needs To Be Great In 2022

The Bucs had their finest common season in group historical past in 2021. In Bruce Arians’ ultimate season as head coach, Tampa Bay received a franchise-record 13 video games. That 13-4 report was ok to earn the NFC South title, which hadn’t been received by the Bucs since 2007. Tampa Bay additionally claimed the No. 2 seed within the NFC playoffs.

However all of that wasn’t ok, because the Bucs misplaced to the eventual Tremendous Bowl champion Rams within the NFC Divisional Playoffs, 30-27. What made it worse is that it got here at dwelling at Raymond James Stadium, and Tampa Bay had clawed its manner again from a 27-3 deficit to tie the sport at 27-27. But, with simply 42 seconds left in regulation, Matthew Stafford hit All-Professional receiver Cooper Kupp with two massive cross performs, together with a 44-yarder to place Los Angeles in area objective vary for the game-winner.

Bucs DC Todd Bowles and HC Bruce Arians – Photograph by: Cliff Welch/PR

The truth that the Bucs misplaced the sport with the protection on the sector has gnawed at new head coach Todd Bowles and his workers all offseason. Bowles, the group’s defensive coordinator, known as an all-out blitz on the Stafford-to-Kupp bomb and it wound up backfiring on Tampa Bay.

Bowles will nonetheless be calling performs as head coach. However he promoted inside linebackers coach Larry Foote and defensive position coach Kacy Rodgers to the position of co-defensive coordinators. Foote will coordinate the again finish of the protection, whereas Rodgers will think about the defensive entrance.

The entire Bucs’ assistant coaches spoke to the media on Tuesday and that recreation remains to be recent of their minds.

“We’re very shut,” Foote stated. “I do know that was a tough recreation, however we obtained again in it. We’re very shut. I do know accidents performed an enormous half in it. Hey, the time is now. The time is now with veterans, particularly on the again finish. We’re not younger anymore. I imply we now have a variety of four-year guys, so I’m anticipating them guys on protection to make an enormous step and I’m trying ahead to it.”

The Bucs protection weathered the storm of a variety of accidents within the secondary final yr. And star linebacker Lavonte David performed within the playoffs with a critical foot damage. He ought to be able to go by coaching camp, and everybody else on the protection is again to full well being.

Regardless that the Bucs received 13 video games, it wasn’t ok. The Bucs fell in need of beating the Rams, a group that has now beat them thrice in a row, and successful back-to-back Tremendous Bowls.

For Foote, the Bucs want to enhance their give attention to protection in 2022. That begins within the assembly rooms throughout movie research and on the follow fields throughout the offseason.

“I inform these younger guys it’s a must to focus, too,” Foote stated. “That’s a muscle that it’s a must to maintain getting stronger and stronger. We reside in a world with social media, so I’ve to offer them guys breaks, however in case you focus longer, you’ll make that play. It’s a recreation of inches.”

Jets RB Michael Carter and Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Jets RB Michael Carter and Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr. – Photograph by: USA At present

Tampa Bay had the league’s No. 1 speeding protection (80.6 avg.) in 2020 whereas successful the Tremendous Bowl. The Bucs additionally ranked sixth in yards allowed (327.1 avg.) that yr.

Final yr, Tampa Bay slipped to the No. 3 speeding protection (92.5 avg.) and had the No. 13-ranked complete yardage protection (332.1 avg.). That’s nonetheless actually good, however the Bucs are aiming to enhance throughout the board on protection this offseason.

“Consideration to element and fundamentals,” Rodgers stated. “As we’re going by means of the cut-ups, it wasn’t us getting beat as a result of we weren’t ok. We had been getting beat as a result of we had been making a psychological error on the improper time or we weren’t accountable, or approach or fundamentals. We’ve obtained proficient guys. We simply should be higher technically.”

Bowles blitzes greater than another defensive coordinator within the league. Tampa Bay blitzed on a league-high 40.8% of its snaps, and had a strain fee of 28.6%. However there have been too many missed sacks.

The Bucs completed with 47 sacks, which was the identical quantity they’d in Bowles’ first yr in Tampa Bay in 2019. The group had 48 sacks within the 2020 common season and added one other 10 within the postseason. However the protection fell in need of its objective of 50-plus sacks throughout the common season final yr.

New outdoors linebackers coach Bob Sanders put collectively a reel of missed sacks to indicate the protection this previous week. The message was to hone in on approach and fundamentals as soon as the gamers hit the sector.

“I don’t keep in mind the precise quantity [of missed sacks] on the tape, but when it was shut I went forward and put it on there as a result of they may see how shut we had been,” Sanders stated. “A few of them, the ball got here out, however we had been shut.

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photograph by: Cliff Welch/PR

What I at all times attempt to inform the fellows is that I’m looking for you that 1/1,000 of a second. That’s what I’m looking for you. Whether or not it’s your stance or your begin, your footwork or no matter it might be. I’m simply looking for you no matter time-frame is [needed] to get you dwelling. Can we come tighter? Is our angle tighter? Can we flip our hips? Can we come decrease?”

If the Bucs can enhance on sacks and strain fee, then defensive stats enhance and maybe performs like Stafford’s 44-yard strike to Kupp don’t occur. The important thing to Tampa Bay’s enchancment is already underway within the assembly rooms. Now, the coaches want it to translate to the follow fields after which carry over to recreation days.