The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made huge strides towards fixing their pass rush when they signed veteran Vinny Curry, but the move might not have happened if they hadn’t first hired defensive line coach Brentson Buckner.
It’s not often that an assistant coach makes the type of splash that Brentson Buckner made when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him to be their new defensive line coach in February. Players from around the NFL seemed to universally laud Buckner as a future defensive coordinator and one of the best football coaches in the game. The Buccaneers – owners of the worst defensive line in football – were excited to hire someone with such strong support around the league, but they likely didn’t expect to see the move actually pay off until training camp begun.
As it turns out, Buckner’s sterling reputation paid off rather quickly and helped them to sign one of the best defensive ends available in free agency. Vinny Curry, previously of the Super Bowl champion Eagles, agreed to a three year deal with the Buccaneers and while the money and environment were important factors, it was Brentson Buckner that Curry raved about in his introductory press conference.
"“The first thing that sticks out to me is the hire of Coach Buck. When I talked to him on the phone, it seemed like he had a manual out on me. It was like, ‘Okay, this guy understands Vinny Curry.’ The way he presented, the way he wants guys to rush and wants his D-Line room to be, his coaching staff, I thought it suited me best. It gives me that opportunity to go out there and earn the right to be an every-down player and not just roll here, roll there. It was a great fit.”"
Aside from his opening statement, these were Curry’s first words as a member of the Bucs, which has to make the team feel terrific about their new defensive line coach. Though it may sound like hyperbole, the pursuit of Vinny Curry legitimately was going to make or break the Buccaneers’ free agency period. The veteran defensive market was bone-dry and extremely thin on reliable talent, much less players that had been key contributors to Super Bowl winning team. Had Buckner not made such an immediate impact on Curry, who knows where the Buccaneers would stand today?
Curry continued on with more praise for Buckner:
"“He definitely knows what he’s talking about. This was on the phone; I hadn’t even gotten to meet him yet. Today I met him in person. But on the phone, the way he presented his style of coaching, I was like, ‘Yeah.’ Whether it’s key match ups, the one thing he said was, ‘I can get you to the water but I can’t make you drink.’ It was a great opportunity for me. I’m excited to be here, especially with the history here on the defensive end, spotlighting on the defensive line. There’s something special brewing here. I’m glad to be a part of it and I wanted to be a part of it.”"
We’re still five months away from training camp, but Buckner’s ability to communicate his plans to players and show them a path to success is proving to be a valuable asset in free agency recruitment. With the Buccaneers desperately attempting to reshape their defensive line, having a well-respected coach on board to help recruit veterans is invaluable, and that’s before you even get to the actual coaching aspect. Buckner will again be in the spotlight in the coming weeks as the Buccaneers attempt to find more defensive linemen through the draft.
So, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, what do you think about Brentson Buckner’s off-field impact so far? And how do you feel about the addition of Vinny Curry? Sound off in the comments!