Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need to Reconsider Defensive Philosophy

J.J. Rodriguez@ActofRodContributor IIDecember 24, 2012

November 25, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA;  Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) catches the pass for a touchdown as Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Leonard Johnson (29) defends during the second half of the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

We knew there would be an acclimation process for the players to learn the coaches and vice versa. We also accepted that the transformation would not occur overnight and the playbook and scheme would also take time to sink in.

But is it really asking too much of the defense to not allow a tight end to streak 80 yards down field—untouched—for a touchdown on the first play of the second half of a late-December game?

What concerns me is not so much that it happened, but the fact that we've seen it time and time again this season. Four times opposing players have beaten the beleaguered Bucs defense to the tune of 80-yard plays. On seven other occasions, the defense has allowed plays of 40-or-more yards.

And while some may want to debate whether scheme is the issue or if it falls on the shoulders of the personnel, I'm inclined to think it's a combination of both.

In short, whatever 'this' is, isn't working. Neither did that or the other thing they've tried.

Come to think of it, the Buccaneers haven't had much success on defense for the better part of two seasons and unless the organization changes its defensive philosophy, it won't for the next few seasons, either.

Look, I'm not going to pretend I'm smart enough to have the answers to fix what ails them. Then again, I'm not being paid to solve those issues. On the other hand, Greg Schiano, Bill Sheridan and staff are.

Oh, and no pressure guys, but patience is running a little thin around here, just in case you haven't already noticed.

They can start by scouting better and drafting wiser.

Anthony Gaitor and Leonard Johnson show promise, but promises only get you so far. Results are the name of the game and right now, the results aren't pretty.

E.J. Biggers and Brandon McDonald seem like a nice enough guys off the field, but they've been flat-out awful on it.

Speaking of nice guys, maybe that's the issue—maybe there aren't enough mean, get-out-of-my-way kinda guys on this team. You know, the kind whose mere presence is noticed by opposing players? How many of you caught the San Fran-Seattle game on Monday night? My goodness, those two defenses looked and hit like extras from The Longest Yard.

Maybe the Bucs need a little mean. Maybe they need a little attitude and nastiness. And maybe they need to show a little fight—on the field, not the sideline.

Perhaps it's scheme. Clearly the whole man-on-man, alone-on-an-island defense isn't what these players are suited for. That said, what are the choices? 3-4? 5-2? A hybrid of multiple defensive looks?

Here's an idea: what about going back to the Tampa-2? This is, after all, where said defensive scheme came to fame. I watch Chicago's opportunistic Tampa-2 defense under Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli and can't help but harken to thoughts of Sapp, Brooks and Lynch patrolling Ray-Jay.

You know, the good ol' days.

Schiano was right for changing the culture by bringing on "Buccaneer Men" who play the 'right' way, but it won't matter to fans how morally-upstanding they are if they're finishing in last place year after year.

Whatever the case, what they cannot do is more of the same because quite frankly, blitz after blitz has seldom resulted in sack, after sack this season. Einstein once said, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

And judging by the historically awful results we've seen this season, I believe the Bucs are in need of a change in philosophy.

I know—crazy, right?

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