We all know that the Cover 2 didn’t originate in Tampa with Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin. We know that Bucs never exclusively used the Cover 2 Shell or completely stayed away from Blitzing. But for various reasons The Bucs use of this 4-3 Zone, No Blitz scheme has entered the popular consciousness as one of the fundamental defensive philosophies. Many other teams adopted it. Dungy’s coaching tree flourished, and it wasn’t so long ago that we were seriously putting about the “Greatest Defense of All Time” talk around the Bay Area.
But now the popularity of the Tampa 2 has been in remission around the league. More and more teams are going with a 3-4. Looking at Dungy’s coaching tree, you see that Herm Edwards is out of coaching, Ron Marinelli lead the Lions to the first ever 0-16 season and has joined Lovie Smith in Chicago (we should have brought him home).
Over the years Lovie Smith has built a very similar team to the old Bucs with an outstanding defense and very tepid offense. He’s held on long enough to turn over much of his roster and continues to have good to very good defensive success, but no Championships. The best success of the Tampa 2 has been with Dungy himself and the Colts. He created a watered down version of the Bucs glory years defense by focusing on acquiring talented pass rushers and playing with a strong, well organized team identity, to balance against an offense that is always going to put up a bunch of points.
The most Apt former Bucs coach to look to Mike Tomlin. He is RM’s friend, and in many ways his mentor as well. In Minnesota he ran a 4-3 with much larger players in his Defensive Front 7 then Dungy and Kiffin ever used. For this he sacrificed some team speed, but he certainly created a formidable D. Now that he’s taken over the Steelers (ironically where Tony Dungy says the T2 is really from) he has Dick Lebeau running the D with a very different 3-4 Zone Pressure philosophy.
Now that Kiffen is gone and Raheem has taken over as both coach and D Coordinator, what is our Defense going to look like going forward? RM has already been experimenting with 3 man fronts (without a 3-4 Nose Tackle), different pressure packages, and seems to be adding personnel that may be outside of our usual physical parameters. He clearly stated that he wants to “be more physical” and that “it’s violent game.” I’m not sure what that means, but I welcome a creative coach who can adapt.
What do you think BucsNation? Is it time to change or do we just need to bring the Tampa 2 back in style?