After spending countless hours watching and re-watching game film during the lockout new defensive line coaches, Keith Millard and Grade Stretz, aren’t the only changes taking place from last year to this year up front for the Bucs. To help a porous front that had an anemic pass rush and leaked like a sieve allowing 131 rushing yards per game, under line Coach Todd Wash who taught a titled stance where lineman would routinely be asked to play a gap and a half technique.
There switching from a titled technique which is said to be antiquated to a more modern stance to allow the teams’ front four to remove wasted movement and false steps at the snap of the ball. After witnessing last seasons struggles play over and over throughout the off-season.
Instead of being lined up square to the line of scrimmage and face to face with their opposing offensive linemen, the Bucs defensive linemen were lining up at a 45-degree angle to the line and their opponent.
That’s called a “tilted” stance and while some players such as Warren Sapp have built extraordinary careers by exploding out of it, the stance is one that has some flaws and drawbacks to it, Millard said.
For starters, it makes it easier for a charging offensive lineman to move past their defensive counterpart on a run play, because that counterpart is positioned a lot like a half-open door.
The titled stance also makes it hard for a player to chase down a play that goes in the opposite direction from where they’re headed because it takes several steps to turn and head back the other way.
Finally, it robs a lot of players of anywhere from a step to a step and a half in their pass rush, because their first move is not directly up field. The squared stance changes all of that, Millard said.
“There are a lot more strengths in our opinion to being squared up,” Stretz said. “Most of all, we think it’s a lot more beneficial in terms of being able to penetrate (the line of scrimmage) and get into the backfield.
“There’s a half step less you have to take to get in there this way, you’re able to get your hands on the offensive lineman a lot quicker with this and you don’t get (twisted out of your gap) as often.
“I mean, there are a few blocking schemes where it’s an advantage to be in a tilt but when you look at the big picture and the schemes we’re facing, it’s a lot more advantageous to square the guys off.”
With Millard and Stretz at the helm, it appears the Bucs will go back to an old mantra made famous in Tampa by former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. This season it all boils down to just the basic fundamentals that Kiffin preached when he roamed the sidelines for over a decade. With disruption being the name of the game. Defensive linemen will be expected to play the run on their way to the quarterback, shooting a gap and attacking.