Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' lack of edge rush creates several problems

TAMPA

Gerald McCoy could use some help. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle leads the Bucs in sacks with six, but because of the poor pass rush production of their ends, defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan routinely dials up stunts and pressures on third down to bring heat off of the edges.

Tampa Bay is tied for 28th in the league with 24 sacks. More glaring, only six have come from outside pass rushers, including four by Adrian Clayborn.

"I think on first and second down, it'd be very easy to cut guys loose and let them scream up the field. And I think most defensive ends would love to do that," Sheridan said. "Unfortunately in our league, first and second down are (usually run plays) — unless you get into second and long. So we ask a lot of those guys from a run fit and a run technique and a run support standpoint, which doesn't lend itself to screaming off the edge. And then on third down, we pressure a lot. So we have different guys coming off the edge.

"A lot of it is second-level players, linebackers and DBs coming off the edge. I think our D-ends are doing a good job, and I know they'd love to just … pin their ears back and tear off the edge all the time. But we require them on first down and second and 1-5 to really play run techniques first because we want to get into longer downs where we can pressure or turn them loose."

On a second and 11 last week, one pressure resulted in a 56-yard run by Panthers QB Cam Newton. The Bucs must be mindful not to leave huge running lanes today against Bills rookie and former Florida State QB EJ Manuel.

"At the early part of the down, when it cracked the line of scrimmage … you had coached different components of the front; even the guys coming from the other side trying to get through and execute their pressures to the guys who are setting the edge opposite the direction we were pressuring from," Sheridan said. "And then when it breaks out, on the back end, you're counting on your back end guys to just kind of corral it and get it knocked down for what might have been a 15- or 20-yarder.

"But the one thing about it is … we're very cognizant of guys like Cam who can scramble and potentially be a nightmare when you're trying to pressure. But if you don't, you're really just going to be playing back on your heels and just try to rush with four guys the whole game. And to me, you don't want to let a quarterback ever get that comfortable. It's a risk-reward that you've got to weigh and, obviously, that totally came back to bite us and set up their first score. We normally wouldn't go into a game and just say. 'Hey, we're going to rush three guys and not worry about him getting out of the pocket and all that stuff.' We're actually trying to move him off the launch point and actually get to him so we still try to mix it even though we're playing an athletic quarterback."

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

Comments
Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week."I most definitely ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — With less than a week to install a playbook, offenses can have it tough in college showcase games.And for 58 minutes on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown.But...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Sunday’s NFL conference championship game previews

AFC: Jaguars at Patriots, 3, CBSLine/OU: Patriots by 7½; 46The big drama leading into this game is whether, or how much, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be slowed by his injured right hand, which kept him out of practice Thursday (see 6C for more...
Updated: 11 hours ago

NFL playoffs schedule

AFCCONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPJaguars at Patriots, 3 p.m. today TV: CBS Line/OU: Patriots by 7½; 46NFCCONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPVikings at Eagles, 6:40 tonight TV: Fox Line/OU: Vikings by 3; 38½Super Bowl LIIJaguars or Patriots vs. Vikings or Eagles, 6:30 p...
Updated: 11 hours ago
NFL Playoffs: Reconsidering the franchise quarterback imperative

NFL Playoffs: Reconsidering the franchise quarterback imperative

TAMPA — So much for needing a franchise quarterback to reach the Super Bowl.Sure, the Patriots Tom Brady is back in his seventh straight conference championship game and his 12th overall. But check out the other schlubs under center SundayIt's ...
Published: 01/19/18
Happy 15th anniversary to the greatest play in Bucs history: Ronde Barber shuts down the Vet

Happy 15th anniversary to the greatest play in Bucs history: Ronde Barber shuts down the Vet

Fifteen years ago today, cornerback Ronde Barber made what's considered the greatest play in Bucs  history, returning an interception of Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb 92-yards for a game-clinching touchdown in a 27-10 win in the NFC Championship...
Published: 01/19/18
Jameis Winston shares MLK’s message: Don’t lose infinite hope

Jameis Winston shares MLK’s message: Don’t lose infinite hope

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, only weeks removed from a disappointing 2017 season, had a relevant but larger message for teenagers on Friday morning: Don't let small setbacks keep you from your dreams."If you have a phone, if you have a pen and pa...
Published: 01/19/18
Greatest moment in Tampa Bay sports history happened 15 years ago today

Greatest moment in Tampa Bay sports history happened 15 years ago today

Happy Friday, Tampa Bay.Fifteen years ago today, Ronde Barber intercepted Donovan McNabb to shut down Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium and send the Bucs to the Super Bowl. Times columnist Tom Jones and many others consider this the greatest moment in ...
Published: 01/19/18
Rick and Tom podcast: Super Bowl berths on the line

Rick and Tom podcast: Super Bowl berths on the line

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones look back at last week’s playoff games to break down the upcoming conference championship games.Rick and Tom agree that New England should roll over Jacksonville but disagree on Minnesota-Philadelphi...
Published: 01/19/18
Rick and Tom podcast: What does it mean when Bucs GM cringes at expectations?

Rick and Tom podcast: What does it mean when Bucs GM cringes at expectations?

Bucs general manager Jason Licht told Rick Stroud that he cringed at some of the preseason expectations last season, and the outrage from some fans has been more than he expected.In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down what it a...
Published: 01/18/18