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Lee: Todd Bowles' masterful defensive adjustment played a huge part in Bucs' Super Bowl 55 victory

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (middle) talks with players during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In football, especially on defense, there are two prevailing philosophies to game planning: doing what we do best vs. making our opponents play “left-handed.”

There is merit to both. Pete Carroll reached two Super Bowls playing a particular style of defense, and Bill Belichick is famous for making whatever change is necessary to locate the winning edge.

Following the Bucs’ 31-9 beatdown of the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55, there were some grumbles across social media and sports-debate shows about the lack of adjustments made by Kansas City to stop the bleeding and regain some control of the game. And while it’s fair to criticize Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy for falling short of expectations, it’s an incomplete perspective. The center of attention, and what decided the game, was not only what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense did; it was what they didn’t do.

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Todd Bowles blitz rate: 2013-2020 (regular season only)
Team Blitz rate League average over time period Rank among teams
Arizona Cardinals
(2013-14)
46.30% 30.21% 1st
New York Jets
(2015-18)
39.10% 28.65% 2nd
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(2019-20)
42.80% 29.58% 2nd

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has a reputation that precedes him as a playcaller.

Over the past two seasons in Tampa, Bowles’ defense blitzed 43% of the time. His team blitzed 39% of the time during his four-season stint as the New York Jets’ head coach, and his Cardinals defense blitzed an extreme 46% of the time when Bowles was running the show in the desert.

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Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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