Sep 22, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (69) celebrates a sack against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

How Much Better are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Defense?


Everywhere I look I see that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the best offseason in the NFL but ultimately, did they become a better football team? Let me start with providing an in depth look to the defense, position by position, to analyze if they did indeed become better and, if so, how much better. Here we go..

Defensive Line

Key Additions: Michael Johnson and Clinton McDonald

These additions were my personal favorite because I believe you build from the front to the back and if you can get constant pressure on any quarterback you make his job tough. The Michael Johnson move put a good player with tons of potential in a place where the Bucs needed a man to come in right away and pressure the QB. Johnson who has shown he can do just that in racking up 11.5 sacks for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012.

Clinton McDonald was a rotational player for the Seattle Seahawks for their Super Bowl run last season but showed he can be much more than that. McDonald tallied 5.5 sacks in the time he was on the field for the Seahawks. Add him into a DT tackle position where you have one of the best in the game in Gerald McCoy as well as Akeem Spence ,who showed flashes of good play last season, and Tampa looks set at that spot. In the Tampa 2, Lovie Smith asks the front four to provide the pressure without having to bring the blitz and leave receivers open.

Linebackers

Key additions: Dane Fletcher

Key Departures: Dekoda Watson

Really nothing to see here in my opinion. I believe Tampa’s starting three will be the all pro Lavonte David, the rising star Mason Foster, and a solid starter in Jonathan Casillas. I believe Fletcher will be a solid rotational player though and look for Nate Askew from Texas A&M to step into a role if he can make the team. Watson was a huge loss to special teams but I think Fletcher can also help in that area too.

Cornerbacks

Dec 22, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner (20) works out prior to the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Key additions: Alterraun Verner, D.J. Moore, Mike Jenkins

Key Departures: Darrelle Revis

Right when Lovie and Licht got to Tampa they made a bold move in attempting to trade and ultimately releasing the All-Pro Darrelle Revis with the reason for this being his huge contract worth $16 million a season. Strategically, right when Revis left, Alterraun Verner came in. Verner is a Pro Bowl zone corner better suited for the defense that Lovie Smith will want run in Tampa.

Verner is my favorite signing of the bunch and I think will become a player up to par with McCoy and David. Mike Jenkins and D.J. Moore provide for good depth and Moore could very well end up becoming the starting nickel corner over Leonard Johnson.

Safeties

Key Additions: Major Wright

In a position where the Bucs have an All Pro in Dashon Goldson and a growing former first round pick, Mark Barron, there has been some disappointment. Goldson was suppose to dominate last year by putting fear into opposing offenses with his fierce hitting and ball hawking skills.

Instead, he received penalties and suspensions due to hitting too high. I believe Goldson will be much better this year now that he has a great coaching staff that can help zone in his hitting target.

Barron has shown improvement every year and Tampa is looking for him to take the next step, becoming the All-Pro player they expected when they drafted him. The Tampa 2 thrives on safeties being able to read defenses and react which is what Barron has done exceptionally well.

The addition of Major Wright intrigues me because the only time Wright showed promise and played well is when he was under Lovie Smith and now that the two are reunited I am looking for a bounce back season. This could very well end up being a strongest position on the defense when the end of season comes.
Overall, I would have to say that the Buccaneers defense as whole became better and with  Smith running the squad there is no reason they can’t go back to being a top 5 defense that every team fears when they come to the “Terror of Tampa”. Defense wins championships and puts you in the playoffs and that is exactly what I am looking for with the new additions and the pieces that were already here. It has been a long time coming since the Buccaneers have gotten a ticket to the dance but I am here to tell you that this could very well be the year Tampa gets back to Buccaneers football and makes the playoffs!

Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • TheFrasier707

    Nice piece.the bucs will b a much better team all around.10-6 is very possible

    • Justin Beetz

      A lot of that depends on the offense and quarterback play. I never had any doubt in the defense. But I am looking for a big year from both sides and would not be surprised with a division title at all.

  • victorbarney

    OUTSTANDING report JUSTIN BUTZ! WE BUC’S FANS ARE R-E-A-D-Y! WE JUST CAN’T WAIT TO SEE OUR “BUCS” THIS YEAR!!!

  • Jayson Kaplan

    Quite frankly, the LB core is extremely thin. David is obviously a stud. Foster is solid and has room to get better. Casillas is competent. Past that, there isn’t a whole lot of quality depth at the LB spot. That said, it’s May, let’s see what the final roster looks like.