A lot of people — fans and media members — have scrutinized the Bucs for their defensive line stunts and rightfully so. Whether watching them from the press box or on film, Tampa Bay’s defense is allowing their opposition to tear them apart. Now that’s not the case in all instances, but when an offense is against their stunts, they execute with ease.
Breaking down the game from Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, the Bucs did not run as many stunts on defense as they were at the beginning of the season. It was Gerald McCoy who asked for changes a few weeks back and got them. It appeared as if they reverted back to their old ways in Charlotte but that was not the case at all.
Out of the 63 offensive plays that the Panthers ran Sunday, the Bucs only ran 15 stunts. That certainly is not that bad of a ratio given the fact that defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan lives and dies by line stunts. Then again, changes have been made.
The problem is these said stunts, when they’re run, are hurting the team defensively. In Week 8 against Carolina, quarterback Cam Newton picked up a first down on a third-and-12 after running for 16 yards. That was possible because Bucs’ defensive Adrian Clayborn ran a stunt inside leaving the far side of the field wide open for Newton to tuck it and run.
That was similar to this past Sunday. Cam Newton’s 56-yard run happened because Clayborn’s side of the field was left open after he stunted. But that wasn’t the only big play on the stunts.
In 48 of Carolina’s offensive plays where the Bucs did not run stunts, the Panthers gained 230 total yards for a 4.6 yards per play average. Within those plays, Newton ran for a touchdown, threw for two touchdowns and two interceptions and was almost sacked on two occasions. He was 9-of-17 passing for 127 yards while Carolina rushed for 91 yards on 30 carries.
Here is where it gets interesting.
In 15 of Carolina’s offensive plays where the Bucs ran stunts, Carolina gained 196 yards for a 13.1 yards per play average. Newton was 9-of-12 for 136 yards and Carolina rushed for 72 yards on three carries, which includes Newton’s 56-yard run.
After the analysis, it’s clear that Carolina and their third-year quarterback took advantage of Tampa Bay’s stunts. Although the Panthers’ touchdowns came on non-stunted defensive plays, the two passing touchdowns could be drawn up as miscommunication in the defensive backfield but the fact is they happened.
The Bucs’ defensive line is not built to run stunts. The numbers show that. The pressure came from straight ahead rushes, which is something that has already been discussed in many circles.
Sure a lesser amount of stunts are being called. The difference is teams are taking advantage of it since it gives quarterbacks more time in the pocket.
Follow Gil on Twitter: @GilArciaTBC