Auditions for Sapp start now at One Buc
by Nick Houllis
If you were like me, you probably cheered when you heard the news that the Bucs were going to go back to the defense that put the Tampa in Tampa Two.

We won't be the only ones, as the Saints we just played showed us a form of our modified version of a Cover Two that several teams around the league have tried to copy over the last decade or so. The problem is you can emulate, but you canít duplicate.

That's because the Tampa Two was more than just a Cover Two modified by Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin. It's a defense that was run by Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Simeon Rice, Shelton Quarles, Hardy Nickerson and others who helped create the reign of this remarkable unit that finished 10 of 12 seasons ranked in the top 10.

The heart and soul of the Tampa Two is the pressure you get from the front four, something that has not happened on a regular basis since Warren Sapp was let go from the Under Tackle position where he revolutionized the Three technique.

So what is the Three Technique? What exactly is the difference between the Tampa Two that we've heard about the Bucs running here and there the last few weeks and the version we used to play?

Quite simply, the three technique means the defensive tackle lines up in the 3 gap, between the guard and tackle. Only, he lines up right on the shoulder of the guard, and explodes into the 3 gap penetrating the line.

The Tampa Two is predicated on getting pressure from the front four. Blitzing ruins the scheme, which like the typical cover two brings corners up to cover the flat, with safeties in charge of the deep sides of the field. Ball hawking safeties capable of stripping the ball from a carrier with a solid hit like John Lynch.

The deep middle is protected by a fast, skillful, covering linebacker, the Middle or Mike linebacker. Hardy Nickerson was first to dominate this position, and after Jamie Duncan and Nate Webster, Shelton Quarles excelled at it and passed the torch to Barrett Ruud.

Even though you've heard the Bucs have been experimenting & using the cover two lately, they mean the linebackers and secondary have been, but the front four have been following Bates scheme, which is for the lineman to line up directly in front of an offensive lineman, and clog up the middle while being responsible for two gaps instead of just one. It's a system usually reserved for huge men who are not easily moved, men who usually play the 3-4.

The Bucs however have been drafting linemen for the Tampa Two system for years now, which are not as heavy, yet are fast and explosive. The return to the old system will now take advantage of the young linemen's best attributes, while not punishing them for their lack of girth.

So fair question then; who is going to play the roll of Warren Sapp? Kyle Moore may be given a shot, as could Miller, Bennett, Crowder and others who could find themselves winners in the Buccaneers talent contest; before the hopeful drafting of Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh.

Suh is a 305-pound specimen who is capable of lining up in the three technique. Aqib Talib seems to be as sure handed a tackler as Ronde Barber, and more than likely Barrett Ruud will find himself less often in trade rumor conversations, and Geno Hayes & Quincy Black in sentences less likely to compare their size and weight to past linebackers in Jim Bates defenses.

Ultimately, Mr. Bates has no need to hang his head in Tampa Bay; he was brought here and given the wrong players for his system. Now the system has changed back to the old system. What was the line? Meet the new boss; Same as the old Boss.

About the writer
Nick is also the editor of Bucstop.com which is a superb website described as a site where you get lost in time watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers video clips from 1977 to 2010. He was selected to the Bucs UK Hall of Fame in 2009 and has joined myself and Phil Jones on the sideline at Buccaneer games in recent seasons as thanks for the lengths he goes to in supporting the Bucs UK. Nick writes regular daily comments on the Bucs and the NFL on the site and it is well worth adding to your list of Buccaneer bookmarks.