Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs defense braces for Eagles' fast-paced offense

TAMPA — Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy snapped his fingers — one-two-three — trying to keep up with how quickly the Eagles offense ran plays as he watched game recordings this week.

"I'm like, 'They can't be running plays this fast,' " McCoy said Wednesday, speeding himself up in preparation for Sunday's game against Philadelphia and first-year coach Chip Kelly, who installed the uptempo offense he ran at Oregon.

The Eagles' 68.8 plays from scrimmage per game don't lead the league — six teams average more — but nobody moves faster; one play about every 22.7 seconds.

That's nearly five seconds faster than the Bucs, which means five fewer seconds for a defense to regroup and prepare for an offense that gains 6.6 yards per play (third in the league).

"They're the most uptempo team … in our league," said Bucs coach Greg Schiano, whose team's 4.3 yards per play is better than only the Jaguars' 4.0. "They're humming right now; a well-oiled machine."

Bucs rookie receiver Russell Shepard, who spent four months with the Eagles before being cut in late August, said the best way to beat the offense is with physical play: "You hit (them) in the mouth."

His coach likes that approach as well.

"There aren't any tricks," Schiano said. "We don't control the tempo. They do. Now if you hit them hard, that helps. They don't get up as fast.

"Make no mistake, it's a big challenge. Right now, we're talking about stopping that offense, which right now is … at historic levels if it continues at this pace."

Another way to slow down that offense? Keep it off the field. One unit that has piled up more plays than it is … the Eagles defense, which has been on the field a league-high 73.6 plays per game. Only the Redskins have allowed more than the Eagles' 434.0 yards per game, and only the Giants and Jaguars have given up more than their 31.8 points per game.

So the Bucs offense can help its defense by playing keepaway.

"They're definitely an explosive offense," said Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, who will make his second start. "We know we're going to have to do our share on offense to score points and stay on the field as long as possible."

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is on pace for 2,240 yards of offense, and receiver DeSean Jackson already has 525 yards, combining for serious big-play potential. While the Eagles are second in the league in yards per game (454.8) and eighth in points at 27.0, they are second-to-last in time of possession, which is to say they are efficient in moving the ball.

Most good defenses preach swarming to the ball. But this week, the Bucs might actually have to swarm away as well.

That's the lesson Bucs rookie cornerback Deveron Carr learned at Arizona State in facing Kelly's offense. Arizona State players were instructed to hurry back into position so as not to be caught off-guard by the next play.

"If a corner, if a D lineman's not where he's supposed to be, they're going to capitalize on it," said Carr, whose Sun Devils allowed an average of 42.5 points in four losses to the Ducks.

At Washington, Bucs linebacker Mason Foster also faced Oregon four times.

"He's like an evil genius," Foster said of Kelly. "He's always finding ways to get linebackers isolated in space on one of his fast running backs. I look forward to the challenge. It's always exciting to play against a high-powered offense like that."

Foster's Huskies allowed 48.8 points in four losses to the Ducks.

"It's definitely tough," he said. "It forces you to be on top of everything."

Schiano sees quickness in every detail — how plays are signaled in, how players return to the line after a play, the way the ball is handed to officials — combining to cut fractions of seconds off the time the defense has to adjust between downs.

"When you see the big plays, it's not like some … extravagant scheme," Schiano said. "The (defensive) guys aren't quite in their stance. They're in the vicinity, but they're not quite ready to go. And when (LeSean McCoy) has the ball in his hands, at times, it looks like a video game. Some of the cuts he makes, humans aren't supposed to be able to do that, so it's pretty special."

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

.Fast facts

Bucs vs. Eagles

1 p.m. Sunday, Raymond James Stadium TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM, 95.3-FM

Bucs defense braces for Eagles' fast-paced offense 10/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 10:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. James Wilder Jr. back at running Canada


    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  2. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  3. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  4. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108