Long time Bucs fans who are expecting to see a familiar Tampa Two Defense on the field this year may find themselves a little unprepared. What we saw back in the day was the Tony Dungy/Monte Kiffin version, which morphed into the Only Kiffin version, a forever Cover 2 (3 actually) version that wouldn’t blitz a sole, while a Peyton Manning carved the team down the field with 10 play drives all day long like was done in 2005.
Lovie Smith changed that defense when he left Tampa Bay to be Defensive Coordinator of St.Louis. Then he changed it up again when he went to Chicago, where he blitzed more from the linebacker slot, a place Kiffin rarely tried.
D.J. Moore, who played nickel corner for Lovie Smith from 2009-12, says current system has basis of Chicago, but only foundation layer. As the offseason goes on, more layers are probably to come.
It’s not as if Smith is the only one on the staff who is familiar with the Tampa 2. Lezlie Frazier played same scheme at Minnesota, Linebackers Coach Hardy Nickerson excelled in it as the Mike LB, and now Defensive Lineman Steve White who will be an adviser played in the Bucs heyday years.
What other changes will there be? We don’t know, but we do know some things that are cannon:
The engine of the Tampa Two is the DT playing the 3 Technique. Thats lining up between the guard and tackle, shooting that gap on the way to the QB, and stopping at the Rb if he happens to be the one with the ball. Gerald McCoy replaces Warren Sapp. Check.
A Sideline to Sideline capable Weakside linebacker. Lavonte David will play the role of Derrick Brooks. Check.
A middle linebacker that can drop deep cutting the field into thirds that the safeties will also cover. Hardy Nickerson and Shelton Quarles have mastered this position, and both are still involved in the Bucs organization. Mason Foster was drafted to fill this position in Raheem Morris’s defense in 2011. Check? We will see, but the outlook is optimistic.
Were starting to get away from the MUST HAVES of the Defense, and where it can be tweaked. To be honest, the last one is the least critical if your going to find a different way to run it though. The next part is the role of the corners.
The Bucs had two Solid Tackling corners that came up to take away the underneath stuff. The new Bucs have BIG guys at the corner position, and Lovie has already determined that a Nickel Corner will have its own position and coach, its that vital to the defense. Will it defend the slot? Have its say in blitzing?
One thing we can pretty much say we know for sure, the new Bucs will be competitive and will probably be in every game they play, and in the heart of the playoff race during at least most of the fall.