The Buccaneers made a big move this week by bringing in former Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner to replace Jay Hayes who was fired just a short time ago.
With the new addition, the Buccaneers hope to refresh and re-energize their own pass rush to find the success the Cardinals had with the same man at the controls.
Arizona operated out of a 3-4 base package for the duration of Buckner’s tenure there as the defensive line coach from 2013-2016, but it was the coach himself who brought to light the fact a lot of teams kept them in sub packages so often his line was often forced to run with four down linemen anyway.
The diversity in experience he will bring to the field having coached a 3-4 which lined up with a four-man front with success, is an underrated ability the coach will hope to bring to Tampa.
Of course, most outside observers will point to sacks as a measure of whether or not Buckner is successful in his first year with the Bucs.
In 2017, Tampa finished dead last in the category with just 22 of them. Buckner’s team however, finished in the middle of the league and had fifteen more sacks than the Bucs. Adding almost one sack per game would certainly help matters. In his four years coaching the front line for Arizona, his team had no fewer than 35 sacks in a single season.
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However, this isn’t all Buckner wants to bring to the table. In his introductory press conference, the coach and former player talked about an area of the Buccaneers defense which may prove to be even more important, saying,
"“We want to effect the whole game. First of all, we want to make sure we stop the run. I think, a lot of people get misconstrued about just getting sacks, but you stop the run and get them in those pure passing downs. Not in those downs where it can be play-action or the (run-pass option), what everybody wants to run nowadays.”"
Talking about how this impacts the rest of the game, Buckner continued,
"“You get to that point then you go get that quarterback, and sometimes it’s not going to be a sack but you moving him off the spot, you making him move his feet, you hitting him, you making him be uncomfortable.”"
Similar to sack stats, the Bucs defense didn’t do too hot against the run. Finishing in the bottom ten of the NFL, Tampa Bay surrendered over 1,800-yards in 2017 just as it had in 2016. Both years came under Hayes.
Previously, the Bucs defense had surrendered 1,800-yards or more just once in the four years leading up to Hayes’ hiring.
When Buckner took over the job in Arizona, they were coming off a 2012 season which saw the defense give up 2,192-yards of rushing. Ranking them fifth worst in the NFL.
In his first year, Buckner took his defense from one of the worst to the best as Arizona surrendered just 1,351-yards on the ground in 2013. In his four years, the most rushing yards his unit gave up was 1,739-yards in 2014.
Even in his worst season as a coach, his defensive front provided an important boost to the team as they allowed just nine rushing touchdowns that same year.
Coach Buckner spoke about a lot of things in his initial press conference, and he did so with joy and intensity. He clearly understands how each level of the defense impacts one another and has every intention of making sure his layer is doing its part.
However, what he showed on this day was that he’s not a man caught up on buzz-words. He pointed out the Super Bowl as a direct reflection of his comments about stopping the run and creating constant pressure on the quarterback.
In the game, the only sack came at the end of the game when the Philadelphia Eagles got a strip-sack on future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady. The sack was set up by consistent performance up front bottling up the Patriots rushing attack, and by getting consistent pressure on Brady throughout the game.
Sacks are sexy, but it’s good to hear the new coach acknowledge the fact without making it the sole focus of his mission statement.
If you haven’t checked out the comments from the new Buccaneers’ defensive line coach, I highly recommend you do so. The full video is up on Buccaneers.com, so if you have the time, go hear what he has to say.
In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on the new hire and how you think it may impact a change from 2017 to 2018.
"You’ve read about the addition, now listen in about the releases. Locked on Bucs talks Martin and Baker."