The new Pewter Report Roundtable will debut every Tuesday during the Bucks regular season. Every week, Pewter reporters tackle a different tough question. This week’s prompt: What is the biggest problem with the Bucks’ defense?
Scott Reynolds: Bucs’ four-man pass rush is a huge disappointment
The Bucs’ lack of pass rush this year has really hurt the team, especially on the defensive line and outside linebacker front, where the majority of the sacks and pressures should come from. The Bucs have 21 sacks through eight games, which is less than three sacks per game. With this, Tampa Bay is on track to record 44 sacks this season, which is the lowest sack total in the Todd Bowles era dating back to 2019. What’s even more troubling is that five of those sacks came from inside linebacker Lavonte David (two sacks). Devin White (1) and free safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (2).
This means that defensive linemen and outside linebackers contributed just 16 points in eight games, averaging just two points per game. Nose tackle Vita Vea still leads the team with 3.5 sacks, followed by outside linebackers Shaq Barrett and Joe Tryon-Soyinka with three each. Barrett no longer has the sudden explosiveness to threaten offensive tackles on a down-in, down-out basis. Tryon Soyinka looks more like an athlete playing football than an instinctive pass rusher.
New outside linebackers coach George Edwards has been disappointing and has had no impact on this unit. According to , Tampa Bay’s overall team pass rush grade is 69.2. pro football focus, They are ranked 22nd in the league. Reserve outside linebackers have only five total sacks, led by Anthony Nelson’s two sacks. The Bucks only had three strip sacks from the defense and committed just one turnover. Just not enough.
Rookie defensive tackle Kariyah Kancey is already the Bucs’ best pass rusher up front, recording his second career sack in Houston. He should have played more, but he essentially missed the first four games of the season, along with most of training camp and all of the preseason, which stunted his development. However, Kancy hasn’t gotten much help from his teammates. Defensive tackle Logan Hall, the Bucs’ top pick in 2022, has been disappointing, with only half of his sacks this year. Is Hall a failure or is Casey Rogers failing to develop Hall? Maybe it’s both.
CJ Stroud threw for 470 yards, an NFL rookie record, despite throwing all day Sunday without a pass rush. The Bucs’ secondary didn’t play well, but it burned out due to a lack of pressure on Stroud. Most QBs want to throw the ball within 2.5 seconds. Stroud held the ball for an average of 3.11 seconds as he spent more time in the pocket. That proved fatal for Tampa Bay’s defense.
CJ Strouse averages TTT on Sunday. It was 3.11 seconds. It was the second longest game he played all year. He stayed clean on his 70% of his DB’s and with 3 BTT and his ADOT of 13.0 he recorded a passer grade (PFF) of 92.8. 24-32 with 405 and 5 TD…3 drops!
— Joshua Quaipo (@josh_queipo) November 7, 2023
Matt Matera: Lack of interceptions by starters in the secondary
This Bucks defense has been built over the years by playmakers. Antwon Winfield Jr. is the only playmaker in the secondary, but even he hasn’t intercepted a ball. Now, Winfield got the pass because he literally did everything for the defense, including forcing three fumbles and recovering them, but what about the rest of the group? I wonder?
Part of the frustration with the Bucs’ starters getting the ball in the secondary is that Tampa Bay is spending a lot of money on Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean. What did the team get in return? Davis has one interception in his last 31 games. During the same period, Dean recorded his two, but they were from the same game in Week 2 last year. Both of these players are currently out of contract.
Part of the reason is that Todd Bowles is making too many zone calls when these players are best man-to-man, but the problem still remains. Strong safety Ryan Neal, the other starter in the secondary, has been discussed numerous times for his struggles in coverage.
Surprisingly, the Bucs are tied for second in the NFL with a turnover rate of +8. The Bucks stole the ball at an insane rate and forced and recovered eight fumbles, tied for the most in the league. However, advancing the ball on a fumble is often difficult because teams have multiple players diving after the football. Interceptions give teams more opportunities to get up the field and make big plays.
The last interception recorded by the Bucs was by defensive lineman Will Goulston in Week 8 against the Bills. That was the beginning of Golston’s career. His only pick is more than Winfield, Neal, Davis, and Dean combined. Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett also outperformed them all with a pick-six near the goal line in Week 2.
Slot corner Christian Isien has a team-leading two interceptions on the season, but he is not part of the base package and is also a rookie. And backup Dee Delaney also has two picks this year. They’re making plays, but the other players are not making plays, except for Winfield. Other than the fluke selection of Goulston, the Bucks haven’t intercepted the ball since Week 4. This situation needs to improve if we are to win the next game soon.
Bailey Adams: Bucs defense can’t get off the field on third down
There was a lot to be upset about about the 2023 Bucks defense. The very basic answer to this question is “almost everything.” Because defense is supposed to be the identity of this team under coach Todd Bowles, and if the defense is bad, Bowles has nothing else to offer. As a head coach.
But to narrow it down, I’m listing third-down defense as the most frustrating aspect of the Bucs’ defense this year. The unit has allowed opponents to convert on third down at a rate of 48.2% this season, ranking 31st in the league. That’s right, you already have a losing recipe before you add in all the other drawbacks.
In the Week 3 home loss, the Bucks allowed the Eagles to convert on 10 of 16 third downs. Tampa Bay, which lost to Detroit in Week 6, allowed 9 of 16 on third down. In the next two losses, the defense allowed 7 of 13 on third down to the Falcons and Bills, respectively.
Ironically, the defense’s best third-down performance in a loss came last Sunday, when the Texans scored 39 points while going just 3-of-11.
It’s not just 3rd place and 1st place, 3rd place and 2nd place. Tampa Bay is constantly giving up third-and-long. Lack of pass rush, missed assignments, plays out of coverage, poor communication, anything that allows opposing offenses to keep the chains moving and gain enough yards to keep the Buccaneers offense off the field. There is always.
The Bucks are 21st in average time of possession, and while the offense is doing its part by going three-and-out often, the defense can’t get off the field when it has a chance, giving other teams games. It’s under control. .
Josh Quapo: Starts at the top with Todd Bowles
Long known as the mastermind of the defense, has the NFL discovered potential in Bucs head coach Todd Bowles? Looking at my colleagues’ answers (all of which are very well supported and worth considering in their own right), I see that the biggest problem is…the whole defense. The pass rush hasn’t returned, even though the Bucs once again had the NFL’s highest rate of rushing offense.
The Bucks are 5th in the NFL, according to pro football reference, The electric shock success rate is 35.2%. However, his pressure rate of 20.8% is 21st in the league. And the more defenders you throw into the rush, the less you’ll be left in coverage, where the Bucs’ back seven has been mostly abysmal in recent weeks.
Ryan Neal is beyond defensive and will likely be benched for the rest of the season, while Zion McCollum, Jamel Dean, and Chris Eisien all had terrible games against the Texans. And then there was Carlton Davis III…
This is truly the worst game for CD3. Par PFF:
8 targets, 7 catches, 112 yards (16.0 yds/rec), 3 TDs. Is one incomplete? Tankdel drops…
Dell’s 6-114-2 line could be even bigger without the 2 drops…
— Joshua Quaipo (@josh_queipo) November 7, 2023
And finally, you have to question your game planning as well. The Bucs get their backside from an offensive coordinator who has outsmarted Bowles in both of their past two matchups. In Buffalo, Josh Allen was able to get the ball out of his hands within two seconds on 30 of his 39 dropbacks. This was because the Bucs had miles of separation between them and the Bills’ receivers, so he had an easy option to throw.
And the Texans had receivers open, or wide open, on almost every pass. It was bad, but as bad as it was, a couple of CJ Stroud’s inaccurate passes in the first half and his four drops by receivers saved the Bucs’ defense from getting even worse.
In summary, the pass rush, which has long been a feature of Todd Bowles’ scheme, is not returning. The secondary, in which they invested several second-day picks and just under $100 million, is having the worst year overall outside of Antoine Winfield Jr. They can’t get off the field on third down. Their star players rarely make splash plays.
Every pewter reporter is right.But when all It’s an indictment of what’s going on… against the man who is controlling and leading the whole thing.
Adam Slivon: Lack of support firepower on Bucs defense
When you look at the Bucks’ defense this season, there are a lot of problems. Prior to the Texans game, head coach Todd Bowles talked about the unit’s efforts. We have to get better and start making sacks and turnovers.. Well, that didn’t happen and it was the worst performance ever.
Antoine Winfield Jr., Lavonte David, and Vita Vea were more than capable of supporting the defense. There isn’t enough consistency outside of them, and the rest of the starters do little to provide the next line of defense, so to speak.
In the secondary, Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean both underperformed, with Davis in particular having a terrible 60 minutes in Houston. Despite earning similar salaries to the NFL’s top 15 cornerbacks, they were average at best and not worth their respective prices.
Speaking of the secondary, Zion McCollum has had some ups and downs in his second season, while Christian Isien has settled back in after having interceptions in the first two games. Ryan Neal was hoping to land a free agent bargain, but struggled until Sunday when he sat on the bench in place of Dee Delaney. This is a group that has the communication skills and high football IQ that Todd Bowles has touted, but that hasn’t been fully demonstrated on the field yet.
Looking at the front seven, the group is underwhelming with the exception of David and Bear. Shaq Barrett has been good, but nowhere near the level of greatness he reached between 2019 and 2021. Kariya Kanshi is expected to be a disruptive player, but he is still developing as a rookie.
Like Logan Hall, Joe Tryon-Soyinka also appears to be far from a long-term starter. In Devin White’s case, he was Devin White. He has his “liveable” moments, but not enough to warrant a new contract with the Bucks.
The Bucks’ defense has plenty of firepower, but many starters can’t get the job done and have plateaued or regressed. That’s the biggest challenge for defensemen who have to get their team together quickly.