Dear Coach Morris: Please Stop Blitzing - Evaluating the 2010 Bucs' Blitzes

Raheem Morris blitzed (when defined as rushing 5 players or more) on 28% of all passing downs last season. As with all the rest of the numbers in this post, that's according to Football Outsiders numbers. It's a decent amount, it's not near the bottom of the NFL, but it's still below average. Teams blitzed an average 34% of the time last season. Still, Raheem Morris needs to start blitzing even less given the shocking lack of success he had with the defensive strategy last year. 

At first glance, it might not look so bad. The Bucs had trouble pressuring the quarterback, with only 103 pressures on 563 passing downs. But when blitzing they did a lot better, producing 42 pressures on 158 blitzes. That's a rise from 18.3% to 26.6%. But the actual results of the plays dropped dramatically. Without the blitz, the Bucs gave up 6.07 yards per play. That's not great, but it's certainly better than what the Bucs gave up when they blitzed: 7.38 yards per play.That's not all: it gets worse. 

On third downs when the Bucs didn't blitz, they gave up a first down on 44 out of 132 plays, 33.3% of the time. But when they blitzed, that number soared to 61.4%. The Bucs blitzed on 57 third downs, and gave up a first down on 35 of those blitzes. That's ridiculously bad, and it's an indictment of both the Bucs' cornerbacks in man coverage and the design of Raheem Morris blitzers. How often did you see a blitz produce a free rusher last season or a quick sack or turnover? 

We can go beyond that, too. What about the zone blitz? I remember Stylez G. White ending up in coverage on Calvin Johnson. That's not something I ever want to see again. But zone blitzes weren't that horrible. The Bucs gave up just 5.32 yards per play on 57 zone blitzes last season. On third downs the picture wasn't so bright, though: they gave up 12 first downs on 17 plays, although that's obviously an exceedingly small sample. 

While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to get to the quarterback last season, blitzing didn't really help. I like Raheem Morris' coverage schemes and his creativity in the back end, but his blitzes have not been successful in any way. Some of that has to be put on personnel, but Raheem Morris is a big reason for it. 

So please, Raheem, do us all a favor and stop blitzing. 

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