Despite the flood gates opening for opposing team’s ground games over the past 36-games, head coach Raheem Morris isn’t concerned about stopping the run. Even after, the Bucs defense gave up 200-yards on the ground to the New England Patriots last Thursday.
“It’s just a matter of fitting things up,’’ Morris told the Tampa Tribune, “and letting (rookie middle linebacker) Mason Foster get better. Our first team actually did a decent job in the run game. They had the one breakout run where the ball cut back on a blitz. We misfit some fits on the second unit, but for the most part, I’m pretty comfortable with what’s going on…We missed a couple of tackles on Woodhead—he’s slippery and he’s quick. I think he (Clayborn) will be a phenomenal help.’‘
The Bucs have allowed 19 individuals to go over the century mark during that span. In the colossal collapse in late December of 2008 the defense allowed 189-yards in that four game stretch. In 2009 the Bucs ranked dead last allowing 158 rushing yards a game. In 2010 the Bucs ranked 28th in the NFL allowing 131 yards a game on the ground.
During the 36-game putrid stretch of run defense, the team has allowed over 200-yards 6 times, has allowed over 175-yards 8 times and has allowed over 150-yards 3 times giving the opposition a 44% chance of breaking the 150 yard mark.
Morris who has previously stated the team just isn’t built to knock the opposition backward has added DT Frank Okam, a 350-pound run stuffer, with agile feet and two rookie defensive ends in Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers who weigh in at over 280-pounds that are fierce at sealing the edge and holding their respective gaps in run defense.
The addition of those three players coupled with Gerald McCoy and Brian Price the teams first and second round picks from last year should provide some immediate help up front for an ailing run defense.
The key to stopping the run however might lay with 2011 third round pick Mason Foster. Foster who will be allowed to gradually assume the role as the quarterback on defense will not have to worry about setting the defense but just playing fast instinctual football as he learns on the job during his rookie season.
Gap integrity, run-fits, shedding blocks, scraping through trash and sound tackling are the foundation for any stout run defense. For the Bucs to grow as a defense, new defensive line coach Grady Stretz and linebackers coach Joe Baker will have to work in unison to correct the fundamental aspects that have wreaked havoc on a once dominant defense.