With Lovie Smith at the helm, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are probably envisioning a return to dominance on the defensive side of the ball in 2014. Don’t get ahead of yourself just yet. This is the advice coming from former Bucs standout linebacker Derrick Brooks, who recently spoke candidly about the adjustments that the defense will encounter next season under Smith and new defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
“I’m anxious to see, (but) this is their first year in a structured system,” Brooks said to Ron Diaz of 620 WDAE last week. “I know some of our fans, from reading their comments, I hope they don’t expect these guys to pick up where we left off in this defense. We went through some growing pains to get to that success. These young men are going to go through some growing pains to understand that. The system that they have played in thus far has not been as structured as this system requires you to be. So they have to go through those playing growing pains. The quicker they get through that, I think they will be all right..”
While it may not be the perspective Bucs fans want to hear, Brooks is speaking from experience as the 1996 squad went 6-10 and were ranked as the ninth overall defense in their first year under Tony Dungy before coming into their own the following season. After a tough 2013 campaign which saw the Bucs post a 4-12 record, patience may not be at a premium, but hey, possibly waiting one year for things to take shape isn’t too much to ask, right?