Wie Buccaneers Seahawks Überrannten

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Tristan Wirfs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Tristan Wirfs
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 11 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveled all the way to Germany to beat the Seattle Seahawks and ensure they sit atop the NFC South standings. Tampa Bay got up early and held on late for a nice win against a fellow division leader. The performance up front for Tampa Bay was much better than the last time I covered them here against the Panthers, and I think it was the best the offensive line has played all year.

The pass protection was solid across the board. If anyone struggled there, it was center Robert Hainsey, who gave up a few pressures. But even he was decent and all in all I don't think anyone can really complain about the pass blocking.

For me though, the real highlight was Tampa Bay's running game. It has been mostly ineffective since a strong debut in Week 1, and it was good to see the Bucs get it going on the ground again. They split the carries between Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette and the two backs combined for 162 yards on 36 carries. It was a strong performance that I'm excited to highlight.

The Bucs had most of their success with gap plays like the one above. Here, Shaq Mason (69) is pulling across to lead in the hole on a single-back Power concept. Mason does a great job of coming across and knocking the linebacker, who fills too wide to begin with, even further out of the hole.

The play-side double team between the left guard and tackle is also good. Donovan Smith (76) at tackle and Nick Leverett (60) at guard completely collapse and knock down the defensive tackle. The one thing I don't love is how Smith turns his shoulders when he starts to see the defensive lineman's hip disappear. The defender already wants to go inside, don't turn your shoulders inside and chase him. You have to fight to keep your shoulders square so you can climb up to the second level. Smith chases too far inside which leads to the knockdown of the defensive tackle, but it also means Smith can't redirect up field and pick up the linebacker (Jordyn Brooks, 56). The play still goes for 7 yards, but it could have been more.

This was another well-blocked play that could have gone for even more. The Bucs are running Duo here and I want to highlight what Tristan Wirfs (78) does here at right tackle. He's double teaming with the tight end (Ko Kieft, 41) up to the linebacker.

Let's start with his footwork. Notice Wirfs takes a very small step with his inside foot first; that's because your power comes from that second step out of your stance. So you want to get that first step down quickly so you can explode through with your second step. The other key is how square he stays after the snap. Remember how Smith turned his shoulders into the down lineman the play before? Wirfs doesn't do that at all here, and he keeps his inside arm free from the block.

Good footwork and square shoulders allow him to come off immediately to a linebacker that's trying to shoot his B-gap. Wirfs sees it and is able to pick that linebacker up, displacing him from the B-gap and collapsing him into the A-gap. Not only that, but the force of Wirfs and the linebacker knocks the nose tackle to the left and creates a huge hole considering this is a short-yardage play. The difference between just picking up the linebacker and wiping him completely out of his gap is the difference between gaining 2 yards on a third-and-1 and giving your back a chance to spring a touchdown.

I do want to point out the tight end Ko Kieft here that's working with Wirfs. Because the linebacker attempted run through, Kieft doesn't get much help from his tackle. That's a tough block to get inside that defensive end and seal him off, but Kieft makes it. Look at how he emphasizes driving his inside leg up the field, fighting to keep it in front of the defender. That's a hell of a job from the tight end.

The Bucs are running a single-back Counter here, and it's another nice gain for them. Before we get to anything else, I want to highlight Chris Godwin . Last time I wrote about the Buccaneers I talked about how Tampa Bay's wide receivers killed a fourth-and-1 play that should have been there by not blocking anyone. So I do want to make sure I acknowledge a really great effort by the wideout to chase down the safety (Quandre Diggs, 6) and knock him past the play. Running the ball well takes all 11.

Of course, Godwin wasn't the only one to make a block here. Donovan Smith does a great job of tracking the backside linebacker (Brooks, 56) and knocking him on his ass when he gets there. Leverett does a good job of sealing the nose (Poona Ford, 97). I also really like what Wirfs does here. That's a wide 3-technique (Quinton Jefferson, 77) that the center has to block back to, which means he has a lot of ground to cover. So Wirfs comes inside and holds the defensive tackle up and allows Hainsey time to get there before pivoting back outside to pick up the edge defender (Uchenna Nwosu, 10) so he can't crash down the line and make a tackle. Great teamwork.

Lastly, I want to highlight Shaq Mason as the pulling guard. He has a real knack for wheeling on defenders who try to come underneath kickout blocks. Look at how he absorbs the defender (Bruce Irvin, 51) and flips his hips around to seal him inside. He does all that without giving up any real penetration. This takes such good balance.

We're going to end with the last non-kneel play of the game. The Bucs got the ball back with a little over two minutes left and Seattle having two timeouts, plus the two-minute warning. So getting the game to victory formation meant picking up a couple of first downs. Tampa Bay ran and threw for a few to ice the game in an impressive final drive.

Like I said, this was the final first down before the kneels. This is Outside Zone, and the Seahawks are selling out here because it's stop or bust. As a result, it kind of turns into a big mush. The key, though, is what tight end Cade Otton (88) and Wirfs (78) do on the right edge. The defensive end is playing C-gap and Wirfs does a great job of overtaking the block. Because Seattle's linebacker scrapes so far over the top, the wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) actually runs into him before the tight end can. That allows the tight end to go back to the defensive end and turn it into a true double team. That creates a big hole for White to run through, clinching and capping off a great game for Tampa Bay's offensive line.

That does it for this week. Just as a note, there will be no Word of Muth next week because of the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving.

Comments

6 comments, Last at 19 Nov 2022, 11:11pm

#1 by theslothook // Nov 18, 2022 - 10:05am

I guess BB can take a victory lap for not paying JC Jackson, but Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney being let go and unsigned seem like blunders in hindsight too.

Points: 0

#2 by RickD // Nov 18, 2022 - 11:32am

The Pats have basically no cap space.  They cannot keep everybody.  Though that comment applies more to Thuney than Mason.  The Chiefs offered Thuney a lot more than BB wanted to pay. 

Mason is the biggest dead cap hit they have.  Arguably they should have kept him, but BB decided he was declining and replaced him with cheaper rookie.  The real issues for the Pats' oline this year have been at tackle. 

I'm sure Belichick would love to run the roster like the 1980s 49ers, but that's not possible these days.  It's a fairly common occurrence that he coaches somebody up to star level, who then no longer fits into the salary cap plan.

At least he doesn't make public statements about how he really, really wants to keep somebody but never makes a competitive offer to that player.  (*cough* Red Sox *cough*) 

Points: 0

#6 by takeleavebelieve // Nov 19, 2022 - 7:58pm

You’re entirely correct (especially about how they valued Thuney relative to how the Chiefs valued him), but the caveat is that their cap issues are of their own making. They overpaid for marginal contributors like Jonnu Smith, Godcheaux, etc.; it’s hard to feel too passionately about trading a veteran guard making $10mm, but BB dug this hole himself. 
 

It reminds me a little of the Branden Cooks trades, in that we were able to get 1 year of effective WR production at a modest salary in exchange for pushing a first round pick into the future. However, the Saints used the Patriots pick to draft Ryan Ramczyk, who has become one of the better tackles in the NFL and also could’ve filled an immediate need. So each individual move seemed reasonable in the abstract, but the opportunity cost changes the picture.

Points: 0

#3 by Raiderfan // Nov 18, 2022 - 12:28pm

A great breakdown, as always.  Why do you think they are Doing better?  Technique change?  Just better familiarity with each other?

Points: 0

#4 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 18, 2022 - 2:54pm

Playing the Seahawks

Points: 0

#5 by mshray63 // Nov 18, 2022 - 3:46pm

The Seahawks guessed wrong. As beat writer Michael-Shawn Dugar wrote in The Athletic:

"The Bucs entered Week 10 running the ball just 20.3 times per game, the lowest average in the league. Seattle constructed a game plan anticipating Tampa Bay would hand it off at a similar rate. Part of that plan was to deploy four-man fronts — essentially leaving a gap open against the run — and make backup nose tackle Bryan Mone inactive.

The Buccaneers pivoted from that strategy, and it caught Seattle off guard."

(https://theathletic.com/3901084/2022/11/16/seahawks-bye-geno-smith-kenneth-walker/) 

Seattle's run defense is still in the top 6 for success rate on the season.  I expect that they expect other teams to try the same thing as Tampa, but they will not leave Mone on the bench again.  I agree with MSD's conclusion that this will not be such an issue going forward.

The bigger question is if their run offense can shake off this last game. Kenneth Walker is getting a lot of hype based on his counting numbers, but he can't continue to rack up negative plays at this rate.

Points: 0

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