Tampa Bay Buccaneers blitzes are a mixed bag

Streeter Lecka

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been extremely blitz-heavy, and its cost them - but it has also helped them.

Bucs fans have repeatedly cursed the blitzes Tampa Bay has sent out there. The Bucs have arguably lost two close games because their blitzes couldn't hit home, as they failed to contain Robert Griffin III and Eli Manning late in close games. The lack of pressure has been especially frustrating, as the Bucs' blitzes have been routinely blocked by opposing offenses.

That's what you get out of blitzes: it's a feast or famine approach, especially so when you have trouble getting to the quarterback and covering on the back end. But its also been a positive for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as they've played a big part in the league's best run defense.

Former Bucs defensive lineman Steve White has an excellent breakdown of a number of blitzes against the Carolina Panthers, and a few interesting statistics. He notes that the 30 blitzes the Bucs called throughout the game led to 11 run stuffs, a sack and five incompletions - but that Tampa Bay also gave up seven plays of ten yards or more as well as a big pass interference call.

Whether you look at this from a purely statistical side or you look at the film you realize that it's a mixed bag. That's what worries me about the defense because they are living a feast or famine lifestyle right now. The blitzes definitely help against the run but it puts a lot of pressure on the secondary against the pass.

The one thing that worries me the most, however, is that for the Bucs to blitz that many times, yet again there weren't a lot of hits on the quarterback to show for it. If they are getting sacks and pressures that can accumulate over the course of a game and throw a quarterback off rhythm. If not those defensive backs are going to be sitting ducks and sooner or later they're going to get cooked. In the spirit of real keeping its also obvious that at times in every game one or two guys aren't sure what they are supposed to do on some of these blitzes, especially when the offense does shifts or motions or both.

Steve White does like blitzes, though. Just not when they don't work.

I want to reiterate, I have no problem with blitzing. The truth is I laugh every time I hear people talk about the good old days when I played here and act as if we played "Tampa 2" all game. In reality we zone blitzed a ton back then but the difference is those blitzes also tended to generate a lot of pressure and even when we didn't get there teams had a hard time exploiting it for big gains because we played zone coverage behind it.

Too many times the Bucs send pressure that doesn't...pressure. That's too much to ask of your secondary when you have them back there in man to man. I know I sound like a broken record but it's hard to believe in this defense until they fix it.

The bottom line is simple: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will blitz, and they will do so frequently. That's what Greg Schiano believes in. But blitzes put pressure on your secondary, and the team's defensive backs are either injured or simply not good enough. Moreover, the blitzes aren't getting home, and they rob the defensive line of straight pass rush opportunities, calling on Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy to loop around for contain or move across the defensive line to open blitzing lanes.

Quite frankly, the Bucs are not a good blitzing team right now. They should probably call fewer blitzes and give their defensive line a chance to win by rushing four, something they've done repeatedly this season. But realistically, that won't happen: it's not what this coaching staff believes in. So we had better get used to these blitzes, and hope the coaches can get the team to be better at blitzing through the magic of, well, coaching.

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