Hello BGN, this film review is going to be a bit different. After a Twitter poll where 94% of you voted for me to do a Bucaneers preview rather than a Cowboys review, I decided to listen to the people. If you want a vote on what I do in the offseason, make sure you are following me @JonnyPage9.
So anyway, I got to work on the Bucs film. This is the first time I’ve written about another team other than the Eagles and I got a bit carried away... the Bucs offense is extremely fun to watch. Due to time commitments and the effort this took, I won’t get time to review the Bucs defense in this article. However, I did talk about the Bucs defense in my film review this year so you can always check that out here.
This article will therefore be a deep dive into the Bucs offense. I am going to try and highlight all the strengths and some weaknesses and then throughout the article, I will randomly throw some thoughts in about what the Eagles might do against this offense. Then I will finish by looking at the Saints defense and whether they can provide a blueprint for the Eagles defense. I have also focused on the most recent games as I think that’s the best way to get a feel for what we will see on Sunday. Lets get to the film!
The Bucs offense is a fascinating blend of Brady’s offense with some of Bruce Arians traditional downfield vertical shots. If you play man against them, they will get out the pick plays and create natural ‘picks’ in order to get guys open. Mike Evans is used a lot more on these shorter routes than I had realized too, he does a little bit of everything.
Bucs All22 offense thread. Really interesting offense... Not your standard Arians vertical O. Evans is moved all over the place & is used on a lot of shorter routes too. This is an absolutely hilarious clash between Panthers defenders lol v 'Mesh'. TB's pocket movement is elite pic.twitter.com/VV44dSnlHx— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
You are going to see this a lot on Sunday and I am not sure the Eagles have an answer in man coverage. The Bucs use trips a lot and will line Gronk up as the lone receiver a lot. They will also move Mike Evans around to try and create favourable matchups. Without Godwin and Brown, the Bucs offense revolves around Gronk and Evans but they are elite talents and are extremely hard to matchup against.
They use this personnel/formation a LOT and it terrifies me a little bit to be honest. Gronk as the lone WR, with Evans as the inside WR in trips. Eagles will need an answer for this look. Eagles rarely ever move Slay inside so Evans will be a tough cover here. pic.twitter.com/2hmGnUNEaP— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
Honestly, from what I saw, blitzing or late disguises just didn’t really work against Tom Brady. He is so decisive and gets the ball out quickly. If you give receivers like Evans free releases off the line of scrimmage, Brady is going to get that ball out lightning quick and Evans has the ability to pick up yards after the catch too.
Evans as the lone WR to trips this time. Even if you fake a blitz, nearly get there, Brady barely ever panics and knows exactly where to go with the ball. Not sure these types of coverages with LBs dropping out last minute are quick enough to deal with Brady's release. pic.twitter.com/ocxtdjYLQU— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
I seriously could have recorded about 10 examples of Gronk making a big play on a seam route. The timing between Gronk and Brady is off the charts. The Panthers tried to play a lot of 2-high zone and Brady and Gronk ruined them on seam balls. Gronk looks like he doesn’t move well but he understands the gaps in a zone defense and has a huge catch radius. I don’t like allowing Gronk a free release off the line of scrimmage but I am unsure what Eagles member of the secondary is physical and tough enough to slow him down at the line of scrimmage. Maybe Anthony Harris? But he could easily get burned.
Gronk on a seam route is by far the Bucs most dangerous play. So many teams play a lot of 2 High Zone against the Bucs and this route absolutely killed the Panthers. Brady is willing to throw this ball even if the window is tiny. pic.twitter.com/U4M4MJZQzT— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
I mean... Brady and Gronk are unbelievable at this. Going to be really tough to stop. Brady will throw it Vs zone all day long. pic.twitter.com/20Vfd0ZiPl— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
I think if the Eagles sit in simple 2-high zone coverage the linebackers are going to get murdered by the Hi-Lo stuff that the Bucs run in the middle of the field. It could be rough out there for Alex Singleton and T.J. Edwards.
And another... V MFO zone they do such a good job of targeting the LBs with Hi-Lo problems. If Brady sees zone this seam route is thrown again and again and again. pic.twitter.com/HUxuTqDyUl— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
It is absolutely insane how well Brady is playing. I know he has had a good year but the film is better than I expected. Everything is at an elite level, the processing speed, accuracy, decision making. If you try and jump everything short Brady and Arians will not be afraid to throw it over your heads. This is about as good as a ‘hole shot’ against cover 2 as you will see.
What on earth... This was completed! Brady is SO good at reading defenders and finding holes in zone coverages. This is just a beauty. He's willing to just continually check it down and then when you try and trap him and jump a route he does this! pic.twitter.com/qm0x4aXvce— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
(More on this later) but the Saints did a fantastic job stopping Gronk by lining up Eagles legend Malcolm Jenkins in press man coverage when he is lined up outside. I hope the Eagles try and do this somehow. Without Godwin, I think you could get aggressive and line up Slay on Gronk and hope he is physical enough to win and then make sure you put a safety over to the side of Steven Nelson who will then be on Mike Evans.
If you go press man against the Bucs you also need to deal with Gronk split out wide... pic.twitter.com/PfAbCOfy8Z— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
However, there is an issue with the above. If you put Slay on Gronk and Evans moves inside, then you have a problem. Evans against a slot corner is just unfair. He is too big and physical.
Another issue with man is dealing with Evans who moves around way more than I thought. He's a really tough WR to deal with in man coverage too. This is the classic 'play man v. Brady and he finds the matchup'. pic.twitter.com/3sUWyVGbn0— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
This is just a perfect job by the Bucs to get Evans one on one with loads of room to work with. Brady is so accurate you know the ball is going to be in the perfect spot. You have to be a very, very good cornerback to stop this.
This is so tough to defend. Trips to 1 side (with Gronk included) then put a TE in motion to the right so 4 options on one side which leaves Evans one on one. Slay is going to have to man up with Evans in this situation. Even so, it's a tough cover for anyone. pic.twitter.com/65yrLifZY1— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
We have spoke a lot about Evans and Godwin but do not forget about the running backs either. Fournette had 69 receptions this year! If you do line up in soft zone coverage Brady will just check it down to a back or a tight end and play another down. If you plan a lot of man coverage, they will run a lot of this stuff. The Saints did an excellent job by only rushing 4 and having a ‘robber’ come down and take away a lot of these type of plays.
Bucs very good at creating easy routes to beat man coverage too. They can use empty and split RBs outside to get them on LBs. pic.twitter.com/JFiJ87SMPl— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
How the hell is Gronk still this good lol? Even when you do everything right on defense they can just slip out guys like Gronk/Fournette and pick up short gains. Brady is very quick to eliminate what isn't there which tends to lead to a lot of checkdowns. pic.twitter.com/cNi2jWcuBS— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
We have touched on scheme, personnel and design so far. But we haven’t really focused on just how good Tom Brady is. These two throws are absolutely nuts. Sometimes as a defense there is literally nothing you can do. On the first throw, you can see the Bucs are also more than happy to go to empty to get a defense to show their hand and here they have Evans and Gronk lined up inside on either side of the formation. This can create some bad matchups for a defense.
I'm being honest... This offense is awesome to watch. What is this throw!!!! He's 44 years old!! pic.twitter.com/v0tuNsDIKK— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
This is not fair.
Ah, just the casual 20 yard corner throw whilst falling backwards and thrown about 2 seconds before Evans makes his break. This is nuts... I could post 1000 clips of the passing game and how good Brady is with Evans and Gronk but let's leave it there and quickly look at the run. pic.twitter.com/ZWRD19Izg7— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
One final thing on the passing game, the offensive line is really good at picking up late blitzes and they are rarely confused. If you are going to get creative upfront and try to bring disguised pressure you better be seriously good to beat this offensive line. They are a smart group.
For most pass heavy teams, the running game is a complimentary piece. Not for the Bucs. It is a legitimately very, very good running game. Fournette is playing very well and the offensive line can move people. They do a lot of things well. They can spread you out and run zone and can also play heavy personnel and just maul defenders. Brady is obviously an elite quarterback but if you just continually sit in soft zone coverage with 2 high defenders they will not be afraid to consistently run it and pick up good yardage. Look at the interior offensive line here!
Quick few clips on the run game... This isn't just an accessory to the pass game. It's a legit run game. The interior OL can move people and can run a variety of plays from different looks. pic.twitter.com/UYKiim9XP8— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
Gronk is a cheat code. They can line up with 3 WRs spread out and Gronk inline and you have no idea if they will throw or run. He is still an awesome run blocker and can really move people. The offensive line plays nasty and has an identity, just like the Eagles, and you can see that the running game is a big part of their identity.
Gronk is the beast in the run game still too. They can spread you out with 3WRs and will keep running if you play split safety & have a light box. pic.twitter.com/BF0H6YiiN9— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
As we have all noticed with the Eagles recently, everyone is involved in the running game. If you want to be a serious running team then everyone needs to do their job. The Bucs receivers will come down and block hard if they need to. However, don’t be fooled that it will always be a running play if you see the receiver come down because the Bucs are also very good at building off the run game and using RPO’s and quick screens to take advantage of a defenses aggressiveness downhill and confusing them.
Everyone will get involved in the run game. It's part of their identity. Gronk plays a big role. They will bring WRs down here to help out too (and then run fakes out of this look later on). They have a lot of layers to their offense and the run game cannot be ignored. pic.twitter.com/1zWmmjKVPG— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
Under center, tough physical blocking. Its a fun team to watch.
They are also more than willing to go under center, 6OL, run DUO and just play physical tough football. You need to be prepared for a tough game upfront. pic.twitter.com/gGoEgjZ3nY— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
This is as good as it gets. This is against a very good Bills defense too and the Bucs had 137 rushing yards (as well as 351 passing yards...) and a chunk of them came on this play. Just look at this play and watch the offensive lineman move in sync to create a huge hole. If you love offensive play, this is beautiful. The left tackle embarrassing the safety at the end is the icing on the cake too.
This is big time. Great pin-pull run, perfect blocking. Check out Gronk, the RT and C pin seal the defense and the pullers get out in space FAST. 76s downfield block is superb too. Fournette is explosive when he hits a hole too. pic.twitter.com/yzWMhkmj04— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
This play is the Bucs go to running play. I would expect to see this a lot and the Eagles linebackers are going have to be aggressive downhill and take on the pulling guard to prevent these play from consistently going for good gains.
This is the Bucs favourite run. Single man power. Always 1 pulling guard and they can do a lot off this play - such as RPOs etc. Guards are good in space and the center is excellent at sealing off the DT consistently. Eagles gotta be physical and take on the guard at the LOS. pic.twitter.com/ckV8mUqVnG— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 11, 2022
The Bucs offense is fantastic. The good news is, without Godwin and Brown, they are not as elite at the skill position as they were. But Evans and Gronk are matchup nightmares and Brady is playing at an absolutely insane level. Also, the running game is really, really good too.
Some DVOA numbers for you on the Bucs offense: 1st in total DVOA, 1st in weighted DVOA, 1st in passing DVOA, 4th in rushing DVOA. I think that is very, very good.
I really struggled to find many examples where blitzes or disguised worked against this offense. It is extremely boring, but you almost have to win with 4. For the Eagles to have any chance at all of slowing the Bucs offense down, the front 4 are going to have to play out of their mind. They will also need one member of the secondary to really step up as Darius Slay will not be enough this week. If we are being honest, I think the Bucs are going to score and put up big numbers this week, but if the Eagles can limit the big plays and force a few 3 and outs or maybe even get a turnover or two, then they will have a chance if the offense is great.
But... what about the Saints defense? Didn’t they shut out the Bucs?
I studied the Saints game hoping to see a blueprint that the Eagles can follow and I didn’t see. Firstly, this was an odd shoutout as the Bucs still had 300+ yards and had chances to score points. Secondly, Mike Evans and Godwin both got injured this game and Brown was already out. So the offense was pretty thin. Let’s quickly get to the Saints tape and you will see why I don’t think the Eagles are going to follow this blueprint (although I would love it if they somehow could).
The Saints played a ton of man coverage. Nearly every snap they jammed the Bucs receivers at the line and played physical press coverage. It was an elite defensive performance and they had the secondary to be able to do this. There was a good mix over middle field closed and middle field open but what never changed was the physicality at the line of scrimmage.
Few clips of Bucs O v Saints D All22, was interested to see how they shut them out. This was such a fun defense to watch. Anyone could spot what they did... Press man coverage. They were SO physical at the LOS to disrupt the timing of routes and give the front 4 time. pic.twitter.com/7IHfNLrShI— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 12, 2022
Even when they did play some more zone looks, they still had the outside corners follow the Bucs outside receivers and the corners made some insane plays. This is a hell of a play.
Some of the plays the Saints DBs made were out of this world. How on earth #29 manages to get to this ball to Godwin on the over route with outside leverage is beyond me. This was a rare example of the Saints not being in straight up man coverage either. pic.twitter.com/jsPGEc492K— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 12, 2022
The Saints didn’t really even attempt to ‘confuse’ Brady or disguise their coverage. They frequently just lined up in press man coverage and rushed 4. The reason they had so much success was their front 4 beat the Bucs offensive line pretty well a few times. The one weakness with Brady is he cannot create on second reaction plays so you can play a lot of man against him without having to worry about him scrambling. You also don’t need to worry about containing him so your defensive line can really aggressively go after him if you can get them into 3rd and long. Cameron Jordan had an absolutely monster game.
The Saints scheme was really basic. Very little disguise or post-snap rotation. The front 4 won a lot & Cameron Jordan absolutely dominated. Saints rarely rushed more than 4 either. The idea was to stop the short throws and win upfront with 4 - which they did! pic.twitter.com/aAMtdqXIxZ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 12, 2022
Remember those pick plays we looked at earlier to beat man coverage? The Bucs obviously went to them to beat the Saints press man coverage. But the Saints used a lot of cover 1 robber and the robber was alert to these plays all day. The reason they could do this was they were not worried about Evans or Gronk being alone in man coverage on the outside. They were happy to leave Jenkins on Gronk and Lattimore on Evans. If the Eagles do something similar, I can see Slay on Evans being a decent matchup (although even that won’t be easy) but I just don’t see a defender who can man up on Gronk like Jenkins could in this game.
Saw a lot of press man cover 1 robber too. They were totally happy leaving Jenkins on Gronk and Lattimore on Evans. The robber could then come up on the short man beating routes, like this! pic.twitter.com/WeIevd6sBn— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 12, 2022
Sometimes, even great defenses get beat. The Saints got lucky here as the post from the outside receiver was open due to the deep safety prioritizing stopping Gronk. However, this is where the Saints pass rush managed to win again and stop a big play and touchdown from occurring.
Even when playing more zone, still had Lattimore on Evans in man & Jenkins Infront of Gronk with the safety behind helping to almost bracket Gronk in the RedZone. There was a big focus on those two. pic.twitter.com/Vxg0q8zTC3— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 12, 2022
Even when Jenkins got beat by Gronk, he seemed to always have help inside and the zone defenders (this time a linebacker and deep safety) were always alert to the Bucs crossing routes and did a great job taking away the Gronk seam/over routes.
Strong press man again, looking for the Gronk on Jenkins matchup on a deep over but the LB in zone who is taking away the in routes gets a hand to it and the deep safety is prepared for that Gronk route. pic.twitter.com/78oMRYApv0— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 12, 2022
In the second half, after Evans got injured, the Saints continued to funnel everything inside and were happy to leave their outside defenders in one on one without any safety help. The Bucs had decent opportunities like this one but just couldn’t make the play and the coverage was always tight.
Saints were more than happy to have Jenkins lined up in press coverage one on one with Gronk when he was lined up as the X opposite trips. Jenkins did a great job all game. pic.twitter.com/oizBstO4Sc— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 12, 2022
Final thing... none of this great defense matters if you can’t stop the run. The Saints did give up some runs and the Bucs did have over 100 yards, but they managed to do just enough to stop the Bucs continually running it. It was a fantastic defensive performance.
Last one... All the great work against the pass means nothing if you can't stop the Bucs running game. The Saints were physical and aggressive downhill and stopped that too! pic.twitter.com/Yik1tC5oGu— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 12, 2022
As you can see, if the Eagles try and copy the Saints gameplan it will involve a lot of physical press man coverage and this is not something we have seen much of yet. I am fascinated to see how the Eagles go about this game after having a long time to prepare.
Phew. That was a long one. This was the first time I’ve done something like this and I’ll be back to review the game next week as normal. Let me know your thoughts and feedback is welcome as always. Fingers crossed the Birds pull out the victory... Fly Eagles Fly!