Adjustments help Bucs' defense contain ground game
Roy Cummings, The Tampa Tribune, published 20 September 2010

Something had to be done. After all, in their past three games, the Panthers had run for an average of 241 yards against the Buccaneers. So Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris went to the drawing board.

What he came up with was a series of new "packages'' designed to stop Panthers backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. It didn't take long on Sunday, though, for Morris and the Bucs to learn their new packages were getting them the same old results.

So, it was back to the drawing board again for Morris, and this time, instead of something new, Morris pulled out something old and, lo and behold, it worked.

"We just went back to doing stuff we knew,'' cornerback Ronde Barber said of the adjustment the Bucs defense made after allowing Williams and Stewart to gouge them for 80 yards on 15 carries in the first half of a 20-7 victory. "The new stuff we put in during the week for this game, it just wasn't working. So, we came back with what we knew and, once we did that, it made all the difference in the world.''

It made a difference all right. In the second half, the Bucs limited Williams and Stewart to just 13 yards on 10 carries while holding the Panthers to just 38 yards on 17 carries. The rebound marked the second time in as many weeks the Bucs have bounced back from a sluggish defensive start to shut out their opponent in the second half.

"Sometimes it just takes a little while to get going,'' Morris said. "Sometimes it's jitters. But we made the adjustments. It's about coming together, talking about the adjustments we need to make and going out there and doing it.''

It wasn't just the rush defense that made some key adjustments. For a second week, the Bucs adjusted their pass rush and, this time, it really paid off as the Bucs recorded four sacks.

Tim Crowder had two sacks while Stylez G. White and Quincy Black had one each. They were the first sacks of the year for a Bucs defense that has been pressuring the quarterback better than the statistics indicate.

"We didn't get any sacks but we were still getting into the quarterback's face and that accounts for a lot, too,'' White said of the Bucs' effort against the Browns in Week 1. "Still, it was nice to get the sacks (Sunday).''

It wasn't just sacks that Bucs racked up on Sunday. They also racked up another couple of turnovers as Barber and fellow cornerback Aqib Talib had interceptions. That brings to four the number of interceptions the Bucs have produced this season, including three in the second half. Through two games, Tampa Bay has allowed a total of 255 yards and no points in the second half.

"Hey, it's a bend-but-don't-break defense and we didn't break,'' said Black, whose fourth-quarter sack of Matte Moore knocked the Panthers quarterback out of the game. "That's what we're about.''

The Bucs have always been about defense, and it's starting to look like this one may be strong enough to carry them. That is, if they can somehow figure out a way to start a little faster. "When we sit down and watch the film, I'm sure it'll show that we didn't always play great,'' Black said. "But we did play well enough to get a win, and that's what we're out to do."