Buccaneers defense could be vulnerable to the pass


The Bucs officially signed DT Tony McDaniel on Tuesday. At $2.5 million for one year, it’s a logical, low-risk contract that will provide depth on the interior defensive line. Akeem Spence may miss significant time so adding another quality player is not a bad idea. So now with plenty of depth at DT and good play from the LBs during camp, the Bucs figure to be strong against the run yet again. What is worrying me is the team’s pass defense.

It’s a similar story to what we’ve seen the past several seasons. Last year the defense was 19th in the league against the run but 28th against the pass. In 2013 it was a little more balanced as they were 15th against the run and 17th against the pass.

The 2012 season was the starkest of contrasts when the team allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL but the most passing yards. Part of that was because teams knew how easy it was to throw on the Bucs. That resulted in allowing the 28th most total yards in the league.

My point is that even with the key free agent signings (Henry Melton, Bruce Carter), I don’t see the Bucs improving all that much when they need to slow down an opponent’s aerial attack. Sure they brought in some new safeties and brought back DE George Johnson, but none of those players is sure to make a difference.

In order to stop the passing game, a team has to have a great pass rush or a dominant secondary. The Bucs have neither. The secondary could be average or even a little bit better than that, but Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks aren’t good enough to cover receivers for six or seven seconds if there is no pressure on the QB.

Lovie Smith has said he expects his defense to put pressure on the QB with just the front four; that’s how he wants this defense to operate. Gerald McCoy is becoming a great pass rusher himself, but is it really fair to think that he’ll provide all the pressure they need from the inside? The team does have a great crew inside, but what is there on the outside?

Bucs fans have to be worried about George Johnson and Jaquies Smith being relied upon to apply most of the pressure. I just don’t want to see what could be an intriguing defense get rocked every game because the team can’t get generate any pass rush.

I think the defense could really take off in its second year under Smith and Frazier, but it also has the potential to disappoint. Just one or two missing pieces can break the whole machine. Let’s hope the Bucs have a secret plan we haven’t figured out yet.

Next: Buccaneers hint at defensive line carousel in training camp

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