Tampa Bay is returning to the Tampa-2 after head coach Raheem Morris relieved Jim Bates of his defensive coordinator duties.
One of the most puzzling off-season moves this year was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers junking the defensive system that is named after them in favor of a tired, old, stale defensive philosophy championed by former Dolphins, Packers, and Broncos defensive coordinator Jim Bates.
The famed Tampa-2 defense was made a household name in Tampa Bay in the late-1990s by Tony Dungy. He took the defensive philosophy to Indianapolis while Dungy's longtime coordinator, Monte Kiffin, continued the Tampa-2 tradition in Tampa Bay. Other Dungy proteges like Lovie Smith, Herm Edwards, Leslie Frazier, Mike Tomlin, and Ron Marinelli also took the concepts of Tampa-2 with them to places where they coached.
After the 2008 season, Monte Kiffin left Tampa Bay to coach with his son at the University of Tennessee. The Bucs ownership soon after fired head coach Jon Gruden, and replaced him with a young assistant: Raheem Morris. Morris had been Tampa Bay's secondary coach, taking over for current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin when he left to coach the Vikings defense in 2006.
When Morris took over as coach, he and new General Manager Mark Dominik hired Jim Bates to run the defense, shifting Tampa Bay's philosophy away from Tampa-2. Bates' system, which utilizes very little blitzing and requires serious girth at the DT position, has essentially been made obsolete by the no-huddle offensive attacks brought back en vogue by Peyton Manning; a "nemesis" of Bates since Bates' days in Miami with the Dolphins. Pressure in a Bates system only comes from the defensive ends, and the secondary is forced to play man-to-man far too much.
The result has the Bucs with the second worst defense in the league, averaging 29 points per game surrendered.
After yet another blow out, this time at the hands of the currently undefeated Saints, it seems Raheem Morris had seen enough. During pre-season, Morris fired his offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. With Bates no longer running the D, it seems Morris will pull double-duty as head coach and DC:
Bates, 63, will remain with the team at least through the end of the season in a consulting role, breaking down film and helping Morris on game day from the coaching box.
Morris is expected to immediately return the Bucs' to their Tampa Two scheme, which will allow their undersized defensive linemen to take advantage of their quickness rather than penalize them for a lack of size.
It's hard not to see this latest change as another knock on Morris, who has now fired both his team's coordinators before the season has even finished.
How does this affect the Colts?
Well, with Tampa Bay back in the Tampa-2 fold, it means one more team will be drafting Tampa-2 style players and signing free agents that fit the similar systems.
Regardless, the change just feels right. The Buccaneers playing Tampa-2 feels right. I'm glad they've seen the light, and are going back to what made them great in the first place.