Bucs vs Cowboys: Sketching out a Gameplan for Tampa Bay

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterSeptember 20, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 16:  Head coach Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers directs his players in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants on September 16, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense has given up 813 passing yards through two games.

There’s a cry for help there. Everyone can hear it.

Cam Newton attacked the Buccaneers secondary and came away with 303 yards passing in Week 1. Eli Manning bombarded the Tampa Bay defensive backfield for 510 yards.

No other defense in the NFL has even given up 700 yards through the air.

If the coaching staff want to find ways to slow down opposing quarterbacks, that would be good use of time towards establishing a game plan for the Buccaneers this week.

In lieu of listing five of six ways Tampa Bay can beat Dallas on Sunday, let’s just focus on slowing down Tony Romo. The Dallas quarterback ranks seventh in the league in passing yards. The Bucs' first two opposing quarterbacks rank eighth (Newton) and first (Manning).

Things will get ugly on Sunday in Jerry World if Tampa Bay doesn’t stop the bleeding.

How can Tampa Bay do that? Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan thinks the matter is as much the responsibility of the linebackers and the defensive line as it is the secondary, according to a Pewter Report article.

“The front seven is equally as responsible for those things and they understand that,” Sheridan said. “It is not an easy task to be out there playing on an island. When we call pressures we expect guys to execute and get on the edge of blockers and affect the quarterback. And their quarterback handled it better than we were able to put pressure on them the other day.”

Sheridan feels the defensive coaching staff may have game planned a bit too much, especially along the front-four. The defensive line was asked to stunt quite a bit Sunday, either falling back into coverage or switching rushing lanes. Nothing worked, as Manning had gobs of time to throw the ball and Tampa Bay never sacked him once.

Here, you see defensive tackle Roy Miller drop back into coverage, looking to attack anything short over the middle.

The Buc only rushed three players here instead of taking a linebacker or defensive back and pushing forward with them. A wide-open rookie David Wilson dropped Manning's pass. Had he not dropped it, Miller would have been forced to make the play.

On this next stunt, defensive end Adrian Clayborn lets defensive tackle Gerald McCoy step forward before Clayborn come around the back side into McCoy's rushing lane.

Neither McCoy or Clayborn got anywhere close to Manning, who completed a 12-yard pass to Domenik Hixon.

For all the stunting and defensive line tricks employed Sunday, no one got to Manning. This may have frustrated the Bucs' current linemen, but it was former Tampa Bay lineman Warren Sapp who spoke up.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Sapp spent time with McCoy Monday watching film. He then had a deep conversation with McCoy about telling his coaching staff he didn't like all the stunting.

"I told Gerald, the orders come from the sideline, but the general on the field has to be able to direct that stuff. Sometimes you do like this here: "Nah, I'm not doing it,' Sapp said shaking his head.

Sapp on Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan attacking the Giants offense with stunts and games on the defensive line, which failed to register a sack. The Bucs gave up 510 passing yards to Manning.

“You can’t put me in that double bind and tell me we’re playing run when he’s in the gun,'' Sapp said. "I’m going to pin these ears back and I’m gone. You figure this out after 51 passes and 510 yards, I’m going to figure it out while it’s going on. I’ll be damned, he’s not running the ball. I saw two runs out of the shotgun. I want your quarterback.

Schiano on Monday told the Tampa Bay Times that while he didn't feel the Buccaneers were a blitz-happy team, he wasn't going to dial down the current level of aggressiveness shown by Sheridan through two weeks.

That means when the Buccaneers blitz their secondary will be in a lot of single coverage. If they are going to escape from lots of single coverage unscathed, there needs to be more pressure on the quarterback.

Instead of dialing down the blitzes, maybe Sheridan needs to let his defensive line push forward without stunting.