-Coach Koetter said on Monday that the biggest issue facing the Bucs from the Carolina game was just poor tackling. Schematically, they had guys in position to be able to make tackles at the line or even in the backfield, but just couldn’t wrap up.
“We actually did start fast yesterday on defense and then on those five straight drives where they scored, on three of those drives we put them in horrible field position – the interception, two sacks and a punt return and a fake punt put them in bad [position],” Koetter said. “We just tacked horrendously on those two long drives they had in the first half and we come out the second half and started off great. Played three excellent series in a row – got ourselves back in the game. Tackling was the main issue yesterday.”
While no NFL team is taking their own players to the ground while tackling on the one day a week the players wear pads during the season in practice, there are still technique drills that the team can do and you can bet on the Bucs making that a priority this week.
-It’s something Coach Koetter has said multiple times before: he’s not a fan of the ‘target’ stat when it comes to evaluating how much a player is involved because all targets don’t show up on the stat sheet. I’ll give you an example. Coach said that the very first play of the game against the Panthers, the long pass that went incomplete to wide receiver Mike Evans, the play itself was designed to go to either Evans or wide receiver DeSean Jackson. That means Jackson was in on the play but a target won’t show up on the stat sheet because the ball didn’t go to him, even though it very well could have. The issue there was that there was pressure so quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t get the ball to Jackson and instead went to Evans. A quarterback needs to take what the defense is giving him and it’s something Fitzpatrick is especially good at. You can’t force the ball to a receiver because he hasn’t gotten enough touches. But he’s probably still involved, which is why a stat sheet isn’t everything.
-Here’s something I feel like is getting lost when talking about defensive pressure and getting to the quarterback. Pressuring the quarterback isn’t all about blitzing. One more time: getting pressure on the opposing quarterback isn’t all about blitzing. Defensive tackle Beau Allen went into this a little bit, saying that all-out blitzing is good in certain situations, and he’s the first to say they need to do a better job of pressuring the quarterback but it really starts with getting teams to third-down and making sure they’re third-and-long situations. Those are the situations that are more conducive to bringing pressure. To get teams into third-down, you have to stop the run and those short screen passes. Those kind of plays are built to help a quarterback evade pressure and don’t give linemen enough time to get to the quarterback. So, if you’re blitzing with let’s just say the minimum five-man rush type deal, you’re only allowing six men in coverage. That leaves just two or three guys underneath to defend against short screens or if a running back is able to get to the outside and past the line. It leaves the defense vulnerable. But, if you shut those things down and force a quarterback to have to make a big play on third-down, that’s a whole different kind of pressure, but it’s just as effective.
-Beau Allen was on the Bucs Total Access radio show last night, which happens every Monday at Hooters on Hillsborough. As a former member of the NFC East’s Philadelphia Eagles, he’s all too familiar with Washington who is coming to town on Sunday. Granted, there have been some major changes to the team since last season when he last played them, but he still had some great insight into what they may do come Sunday.
Allen said that they’ve been a team that wants to run the football, but with a new quarterback, there will probably be a lot of changes from the Washington team he played as a member of the Eagles.
“Pressuring the quarterback, in my mind starts with stopping the run and getting our defense into third-and-long, things like that,” Allen said. “That means we have to stop Adrian Peterson. He had like 30 rushing yards last week so he’s going to be coming out ready to go. He’s a good running back, he’s been doing it at a high level for a long time. I know their quarterback is capable of doing a lot of the zone-read stuff that we saw in Carolina. I know he has experience doing that in Kansas City and then in San Francisco as well so that’s one thing that might come up. What I expect to see from them is that they are going to try to establish the run early.”
He had some more to say about new Washington quarterback Alex Smith as well.
“You have players that have individual tendencies, what they’re like as players. Take a quarterback for example, whether he’s a mobile quarterback or a pocket passer, that’s probably not going to change too much but then obviously, you need to take into account the offensive scheme they’re running. How they’re going to try to attack us defensively and stuff like that. I know he’s got a good arm. I think he does a good job of running the offense and he knows what kind of player he is. I’m excited to check him out on Sunday.”
More Beau Allen (because you can’t ever get enough of this guy):
-He also talked about his acting debut on Bucs Total Access. He was a guest star, along with former teammate Jason Kelce, on the popular show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He said they filmed the episode right after the Super Bowl, but it just aired a couple weeks ago. He hasn’t watched it yet, saying that he’s hesitant given his acting inexperience and has had mixed reviews from friends and family members.
-What was really funny to hear was his journey to 327-pound NFL defensive lineman. Believe it or not, he was actually only eight pounds when he was born… because he was five weeks early. He went from preemie baby to being about 250 pounds in middle school. He shared a story of his middle school awkwardness with Casey Phillips and having everyone watch his weigh-in prior to football season and realizing how big he was. He started four years on the varsity football team in high school where he went from that 250-pound weight to 315 his senior year. There’s a reason he played all 13 games for the Wisconsin Badgers in his first season, and continued to play every game for them through his senior year before entering the draft.