Bucs run defense recovers after Torain's fast start
There was a time in Sunday’s game when it appeared Redskins RB Ryan Torain might shatter records that stood for decades. Perhaps he would have, had the Bucs not made some critical adjustments against Washington’s zone-blocking run scheme.
Rather than using the man-to-man blocking scheme the Bucs use, the Redskins employ a tactic in which the offensive line moves laterally, in concert, creating creases for running backs.
The Bucs, who this season haven’t played a team that runs the scheme exclusively, were gashed by Torain for 158 yards in the first half.
Coach Raheem Morris, also the defensive coordinator, said he never flinched.
“It’s all about finding a way,” he said. “We were able to do that. We moved Michael Bennett inside for some more quickness to counter the zone scheme and how quick they are and how well they play and are able to execute. He did a better job in the second half. We also came in at halftime and put a few wrinkles in and were able to do a few things there to be able to get us a little bit better opportunity to cover some things. Frustration is never a word that goes across my head.”
Among the things Morris references were run blitzes. The Bucs also tackled better after missing a number of tackles in the first half.
The key to stopping the zone scheme is, Bennett said, “getting penetration. Everybody has to get in their gap. When they do that, then we’ll stop it every time.”
That’s where Bennett’s role was critical. A defensive end, Bennett used his speed to beat interior offensive linemen off the ball and create havoc inside. Roy Miller also got more penetration in the second half. That meant the Redskins got little to nothing on second-half rushing attempts, putting them in long down-and-distance situations that forced the Redskins to throw. They were limited to 14 yards on six rushing attempts in the second half.