Bucs “simpler” defense proved better Sunday

Photo by Icon Sportswire

You hear players and especially coaches say it all the time.” Football is not rocket science.” That’s true. But it’s not rudimentary arithmetic either.

Somewhere in between, and we’re going to guess that it’s closer to rocket science than simple math, is Buccaneers coordinator Mike Smith’s defensive scheme.

In a word, Smith’s scheme is “complicated.’’ Players have told us that, Smith has told us that. In fact, the scheme’s complexity is the No. 1 reason the Bucs have struggled to learn it.

Those struggles, meanwhile, were the reason Smith chose to dummy the scheme down a bit for the Bucs game against the Bears last week, when simpler clearly proved to be better.

“The coaches helped us out a lot by making things a little more simple this week and that paid dividends for us,’’ said safety Chris Conte, who sparked the Bucs 36-10 victory with a pick-six 10 minutes into the first quarter. “It was just more reaction-type football. I mean, you want to think during the week, but you don’t want to have to think during the game on Sunday.’’

It wasn’t just the simplified nature of the scheme that helped the Bucs defense. Their linebacker and defensive backs got a boost from a much-improved pass rush that recorded eight quarterback hits and four sacks.

The Bucs also secured four takeaways (two interceptions and two fumble recoveries) and now, have now recorded 13 takeaways in their last five games after recording just two in their first four.

By the way, those 13 takeaways are the most for any team in the league since Week 5.

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