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Slowing it Down: Laying the wood on 3rd and Long

For weeks I was working on a big piece about the defense. Compiling numbers and analysis to show you just how bad we were. Morris made an easy decision by taking over as the defensive play-caller and things have started to change. There are many factors working in this, the offenses we have played versus whether or not the play-calling has improved. Regardless, the numbers are light-years better.

Over the season the Bucs were allowing opponents to convert on over 40% of their third-down conversions. It was good enough for 22nd in the league. However, the past 3 weeks it has improved to 34%, which is about where the 7th and 8th ranked teams are. That is tremendous. This weeks slow-motion is a 3rd and 7 for the Panthers from their own 23 Yard line.



Notice how tight the Panthers team is to the ball. They have a single-set back with Two WR to the top and Charly Martin along with TE Daunte Rosario at the bottom of your screen. The Bucs are confusing me slightly, but it seems they are in some sort of Cover 3 or Cover 4 Defense. The CB's are loose and both release the WR to their side. Their is a S deep but Tanard Jackson doesn't seem concerned about covering anything deep. The LB's first step is back and they are getting their drops, which is about 5 yards and curl. Also look at the DL. Jimmy Wilkerson is lined up as a DT. This is something we would have never seen a month ago. They all get a nice pass rush, but it is a fast-developing play and only a 3 step drop.


Daunte Rosario and Steve Smith steak down the field while Muhammad runs a 15 yard Corner and Charly Martin comes right across the face of the linebackers. My guess is Muhammad is the first option in this. Take away the S, suck the linebackers in and hit Muhammad for a first down. Barber does a nice job of taking this option away. Martin is wide open, but intentionally. The Linebackers know that the Panthers must get the first down. Ruud stays in his zone taking away Rosario as an option. They are giving the underneath and protecting the field. This is also evident by the reaction (or lack there-of to Stewart as a dump off. He was wide open as well. Tanard Jackson makes an incredible read and jumps this route quickly. Matt Moore stared down Martin (watch his head, it barely moves). Jackson, who isn't known as a big hitter, lays an incredible hit on Martin and stops him 2 yards short of the first down.

What I take from this: Morris trust his defense to make plays. He gives Carolina options and knows his LB's and Safetys can make a tackle underneath the First Down when called upon.