Update: 1/19/2013: Pewter Report has posted an update to their original report, and have admitted their source may have been incorrect. Mark Dominik told ESPN’s NFC South Blogger that Melvin had not been fired, and “is our defensive line coach.”
The Buccaneers defense was obviously woeful in 2012, allowing points and yards in large amounts week after week. The Buccaneers already let go of their defensive backs coach, which was a fairly predictable move considering the performance of that portion of the defense. The Buccaneers were apparently not done changing the defensive coaching staff and today they have let go of defensive line coach Randy Melvin, according to Pewter Report.
Melvin was the coach responsible for the defensive line leading the charge of a very strong run defense, but also a line that failed to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. According to reports by 620 WDAE over the course of the season, the defensive linemen were not in total agreement with the coaching staff about the stunts and blitz calls given to the defensive line over the course of the season. While Coach Schiano is certainly the brains behind the defense, it is possible that the calls Melvin was making were eventually overturned by Schiano, or at the request of the players. While I am not suggesting such a meager disagreement could lead to a coach being let go, it could be a contributing factor among some statistics that support the poor job the line did generating a pass rush.
According to FootballOutsiders.com, the Buccaneers line was more opportunistic than it was sturdy. The Buccaneers ranked 27th in the league in Power Success Rate Against, which FO defines as:
Power Success: Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.
This means the defense was unable to put a stop to an offense on key plays often enough, so how did the Buccaneers stymie opposing running games so well? By leading the league in stuffing running plays. The Buccaneers stopped the opponent for no gain or a loss on one third of plays, which lead the league by a 7% margin, and was 13% better than the league average. Following the logic here, the Buccaneers were often able to put teams into 2nd and long, causing them to pass. And I think we all know what happened when opponents passed against the Buccaneers in 2012…
But that’s not all. The Buccaneers finished with a 4.9% adjusted sack rate, also found at FO. This was good enough for 2nd to last in the NFL, and 1.6% below league average. In raw numbers, the Buccaneers were 10 sacks shy of the league average, which means 10 more plays for QB’s to put the ball in the air against the porous Buccaneers’ secondary. The defensive line did a fantastic job putting teams into a position where they are behind the down and distance. However, once they got them into this position, they were unable to capitalize. They could not consistently pressure the quarterback, and so teams would simply pass their way out of precarious downs and distances.
The Buccaneers will have plenty of work to do on defense going into 2013, and finding a new defensive line coach will be important. The continued development of Gerald McCoy is critical for the defense’s success, as he has proven he has potential to be an impact player on the defensive line. The talent may require an upgrade this offseason, which we will continue to consider and explore this offseason on the Pewter Plank. But one thing is for sure, the Buccaneers are looking to shake up things on defense and do everything they can to put the embarrassment of 2012′s defense in the rear view mirror.
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