Last season the Buccaneers defense led the league in rush defense, and were the bottom feeders in pass defense. One of the hardest positions to evaluate because of this equilibrium of defense is the linebacker position. One guy who specifically fits this category is strong side linebacker Dekoda Watson.
Watson will be coming into his fourth season in Tampa Bay and the Florida State man has a lot of proving to do this year. Of the 11 starters on the defense, strong side linebacker is possibly the biggest unknown.
But today we’ve heard from Coach Schiano that Watson has shown great improvement this offseason and has now “locked in at the strong side LB position”.
I hear that quote meaning two things. First, Watson is the front-runner to be on the field on the first defensive play in 2013, which is entirely possible considering the lack of other standout options at the position. Secondly, just as it reads, Dekoda will be much better this year than he has in his first three. This would be a huge boost for the Buccaneers, to finally make good on this investment.
A huge improvement from Watson would completely change the look of the Buccaneers’ defense. Whether it’s in coverage, run stop, or pass rush, Watson has never really been a difference maker on that side of the ball. If he can become one, along with the other five or six playmakers that are already there on defense, we’re really talking about something.
It really depends what “locked in” means. Does that mean he’s simply doing his job, or does it mean he’s standing out? Tough to tell in OTA’s. It’s certainly something to keep your eyes on throughout preseason and into the first few weeks.