Bucs DC Leslie Frazier spoke about the importance of gap integrity this week. - Photo by: Mark LoMoglio/PR
Missed tackles are easy to highlight and the Bucs certainly had a few too many last Sunday in Houston. But it was hardly the first issue Tampa Bay had while trying to slow down the Texans ground game that totaled 186 yards in Week 3.
The first step in stopping the run is getting a solid push from the defensive line, with all four players staying in their own gap. The Bucs lost their gap integrity at times, leading to other linemen overcompensating. As a result, lanes opened up and linebackers were often left taking running backs head-on at full speed.
On Thursday, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier laid out the basic steps of run defense and the slippery slope when not followed.
“Tackling and making sure we’re in our gaps, those are the key ingredients to good run defense,” Frazier said. “Tackling, staying in your gap and not feeling like you have to do anything extra. We had some of that last week in the fourth quarter and now you run the risk of a three-yard play becoming a 10- or 12-yard play.”
Expected to lead the front four and set the tone on defense is interior tackle Gerald McCoy. As dominant and threatening as McCoy is to every offensive lineman, he still emphasized the “Do Your Job” mantra that’s been made famous by Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
“Guys just doing their job as opposed to trying to do too much,” McCoy said, asked how they can be successful against the run. “When I say ‘too much’ – I don’t have the A gap. My job, as the three-technique, is the B Gap. It doesn’t matter if it moves. You just stay in your gap and, if you have an assignment, just do your job. And then I think we’ll improve.”
That said, not every play will go accordingly and the Bucs know that. When running backs break through into the second level, it’s up to linebackers and safeties to make the difficult stop, which is another area Tampa Bay expects to improve upon from last week.
The key, as head coach Lovie Smith would point out, is to limit those occasions while relying on the linebackers and secondary to run to the ball and gang tackle.
“When you’re in a disciplined defense you have to be in your gaps every time,” Smith said. “But that’s hard to do. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game where a guy has been in his gap every time. When a guy isn’t in his gap, though, if everyone is running to the football, you can compensate with pursuit and things like that.”
Nonetheless, the recipe for success against the run starts at the line of scrimmage, with all four players responsible for their own gap and getting consistent penetration.
“We had a couple plays where we weren’t in our proper gaps and normally you get burned,” Smith said. “You just keep working on it, keep calling guys out, holding them accountable and normally you get that taken care of. That’s how we want to see it this week. We want to be sound in our gaps for all the different things they try to do to you offensively.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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I’ve said and thought the same that the biggest issue is not staying gaps and trusting each other and the system. Yea tackles were missed and will be missed when the offense never puts a drive together too and they are on field too much. It’s not because the LB’s are too small like some are saying. So let’s go back and get a Mason Foster who was bigger and thumper against run, but couldn’t cover my grandma and left middle of field wide open all year! Time of possession was crazy and you can’t win like that. I do think though the defense was more to blame in Houston and against Titans. We can argue about if it’s the players or coaches all day. Combination of both I’m sure but who picked these players? Also a very undisciplined team. Penalties on offense and defense are preseason sloppy 3 games into season.
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My option I hope is to every buc fan opion. I can see that the bucs is getting better each week. I believe that next year that Tampa qb should rotate qb’s each pre-season. I see that the defense is getting better. even the injury bug. I come to the aid of Jameis Winston. The Receieving corp TE as well as WR and RB should catch the ball. If they can’t start looking next year for TE,WR and RB. I believe that next year Tampa should select a DL, CB,WR,TE &RB and not in that order. Maybe Tampa could trade down to select the players they are wanting for 2016 GO Bucs
Time to shut up and win some games.
Concentrate and quit making stupid penalties and the same mistakes over and over again.
Get some pride in your team and quit being the same old Bucs.
This team has the talent and the coaching to beat 2/3 of the league including the Panthers.
Lovie needs to swallow his pride and stop insisting the MLB has to call the defense when you have a talented but green Rookie playing MLB. David did it well for years and should be calling the adjustments against the Panthers who David knows well. David also needs to play at the level his new contract is paying him to play. No more missing sure tackles like last week. Lovie also needs to mix in a run blitz every once in awhile too. How many times did our former all pro DB now in the booth fire down the line of scrimmage and take down running backs before they get started? Conte is very capable of doing that today. Crush those Stinking Panthers today and get your old time swagger back Defense! Go Buc’s!!!
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