Buccaneers Returning To the Tampa-2?: Players React

Oliver EllisCorrespondent INovember 25, 2009

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 22:  Running back Lynell Hamilton #30 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by linebackers Quincy Black #58 and Geno Hayes #54 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Buccaneers' defense is apparently moving back to wards its older scheme, the one that made them famous—the Tampa 2.

A version of the Cover 2 defense dreamt up by former Buc head coach Tony Dungy and longtime former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, the zone-based scheme leaves defensive linemen responsible for plugging one gap, linebackers allowed to run sideline to sideline and safeties split the deep halves of the field in half in an attempt to limit the chances and prevent big plays.

Nicknamed the Tampa 2, the Cover 2 scheme requires for players to rely more on speed and athleticism than size and bulk. It is the system many current Bucs defenders, from tackle Chris Hovan to linebacker Geno Hayes, were brought here to play.

Demoted coordinator Jim Bates, 63, installed what was supposed to be a blitz-heavy, man-coverage scheme that often asked for the linemen and linebackers to read and anticipate plays instead of simply crashing through the line to make a stop.

"There's a reason why they call it Tampa 2," Chris Hovan said. "Am I more comfortable? Yes. I'm not a two-gapper. I'm never going to be a two-gapper. I can gap and a half. My abilities are to run, penetrate, and create at the line of scrimmage. With that being said, some of the guys are comfortable. But at the same time, we've got to go out there and just run the defense that is called.''

"Even when Monte Kiffin was here, you saw us dabble with quarters (coverage), with man (coverage) and with two-match (coverage),'' Raheem Morris said. "That's where we wanted to go. I thought we could be that super mega-morph (defense) and that we could get this thing going this year, and I still think we can.

"That's why I put myself in charge of it. There won't be much of a change. There will just be a little more of a Raheem Morris influence. That's what I'm planning to do."

"It's funny. You were hired to be defensive coordinator two weeks before you were hired to be the head coach and you have some ideas and you've got your plans out there,'' Morris said Tuesday.

"Why throw (linebackers coach) Joe Barry out there and let him try to fix it the next six weeks when you think you can? I feel like it's my responsibility, I feel like I have to do it, I feel like it's what I'm supposed to do as a head coach and a man on this football team.

"It's what I owe this organization, it's what I owe this town, what I owe this ownership, what I owe (general manager) Mark Dominik, everybody that's involved with me. It's my job to fix it and that's what I've got to go out there and do.''

"Obviously, we're 1-9 and we've been struggling," middle linebacker Barrett Ruud said. "Hopefully a change will provide some good things. Is it the right move? It remains to be seen. We're going to go in and play and hopefully it turns out to be the right move because we need to get some wins, 1-9 is definitely not good enough.

"One and nine is a wild ride. When you lose, you learn about character. You learn about the guys that are going to play through a lot of adversity. That's one thing our team has never lacked is effort. We haven't executed very good, but the effort has always been there."

"The building is not falling down,'' veteran cornerback Ronde Barber said. ""We're good. This team will stick together as it has all year when we've went through these tough patches. Don't worry about it. We'll find a way.'