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Bucs Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates Speaks to the Media

Posted on behalf of JScott. I enjoy being the only one with daytime access. No really, I do!

Buccaneers new Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates took a break from the film room yesterday to discuss his Defensive Philosophy, Coaching Style, and Personnel packages with the Tampa Media. Jim’s opening statement pretty much sums up the current state of his coaching staff:

Bates on the task at hand: "Guys, we have a lot on the plate right now. But it's an exciting time. This is a real close group. That's important to have good camaraderie within your coaching staff because you're with each other 14-16 hours per day. There is good character on this team. The guys that are in town have all come to see us. You can just feel the passion for football. These are good character people that want to play as a team. It's going to be an easier transition." - Pewter Report

That’s the understatement of the off-season in terms of having a lot on their plates. I realize everyone wants to hit the ground running and GM Mark Dominik was not willing to say this team is in rebuild mode, but we flushed out the entire coaching staff. There is a lot of learning going on right now and I don’t think it’s realistic to expect great success this coming season. Is it attainable? Of course it is, look at the talent on both sides of the ball, but there is an insane amount of information consumption that has to occur and translate out on to the football field. Hopefully Bates can maintain the defense while upgrading it with the hopes that Jags can match the bar that will inevitably be set on defense.

Potential changes in Defensive Schemes: "We're going to use what the players were comfortable with under Monte in certain areas. The blend is going to be for the better. The fronts will change a little bit. We're a little more of a constant 4-3; we're not as much of an over and under front defense. We’ll still have the 4-3 principles that we've done. That will be a very easy transition. Terminology will change. It's a very player-friendly terminology that they'll be able to acquire without any difficulty. If one thing strikes you more than anything, it will be the corners playing a lot more bump coverage. We will play off and do some things they've done and been successful in doing in the past, but we will be a lot more aggressive with corner play and the bump technique" - Pewter Report

This sounds a lot like what we expected him to do. Basically tweak the current defense with his own ‘wrinkles’ that have proved successful over the years. CB Ronde Barber has to be chomping at the bit this off-season. Bump and Run coverage suites his skill set as he welcomes contact and often initiates it. This could also benefit CB Phillip Buchanon who would get beat at times while giving his receiver plenty of space to work with. The defensive line hasn’t produced for the past couple years so I don’t see how any Bucs fan can argue with changes that may occur there.

Will the current Defensive Tackles on the Roster work in your system? "We're looking for good football players, but size is important. In Miami we lost Tim Bowens and Larry Chester for the year, but we were still able to play our system and play at a high level with undersized tackles. It's important to have a rotation. It has been our [staple] that if you dress on Sunday you're going to play. It does two things. It adds to your practice and team as far as when you go into a room and you have a tackle that hasn't played and he's dressing out, it just adds to it. Now he knows he's going to play, so now the practice tempo picks up and the room picks up. It just brings them together. It also saves players if you're rotating them towards the end of the season." - Pewter Report

This isn’t a new concept for our defense as Kiffin/Coyer had the d-line on a rotation. We clearly need upgrades at Defensive Tackle. Bates didn’t come out and say it, but he alluded to the guys we currently have as being back-ups when he coached in Miami. We have a real opportunity to upgrade one or two spots on the Defensive Line should the Glazers be up to spending some money in Free Agency.

Do you believe in helping our stagnant pass rush with blitz packages? " If we can rush four and defend with seven that's the way we'll go. If we need to bring five or six, or all out blitz we will have it in place. If you were to ask any defensive coordinator which they'd rather be, you'd rather be a four-man rush and get after them. We do play tight match coverage, so the quarterback holds the ball. We've had tremendous success and proven a lot of sacks as far as with our four man rush. Jason Taylor had 2.5 sacks, and he went in there and had 14.5 and 17. Trace Armstrong went from single digits to 16.5 in his only Pro Bowl year. Adewale Ogunleye came in and had 16.5. Aaron Kampman went from single digits to 16.5. Now, they have to have ability. If they don't have ability we can coach into the hours and not get it done. You can take some great athletes and if they don't have the passion to play at the highest level it won't work out. " - Pewter Report

This is clearly the main difference between Bate’s and Kiffin’s systems. Kiffin would rely heavily on the front four providing pressure. When he blitzed Ruud or Barber the results would be highly successful, but those moments were few and far between. I’m almost giddy hearing about the immediate successes his defensive ends have experienced in the system. Nobody is going to confuse Gaines Adams, Kevin Carter, and Stylez White for Jason Taylor or Aaron Kampman, but they certainly have the ability/potential to be as good as they’ve proved in spurts in their careers thus far. Bates almost covers himself by saying that his ends have to have the ability. His final statement gives me hope for our current d-line corps because all of them are highly passionate players. So we’ll have to wait and see whether his past successes translate to our current crop of defensive linemen.

Bates discusses Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barbers remaining playmaking ability in closing: "We're evaluating that at this time. Those are two accomplished guys. I am familiar with them from watching them from afar. It's kind of like you guys watching Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor when I was in Miami. We are not ready to make any decisions. As the weeks go on it will be exciting for us and exciting for all of you to see how this team is coming together." - Pewter Report

Bates pretty much said all the right things in his first address to the media. I think all Bucs fans are highly excited about the coming weeks/months and what that means for the Personnel on the roster, as well as the offensive/defensive packages that will be implemented this off-season.