Jason Licht of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent a lot of resources this off-season to improve the defensive line. Just how much better will this year’s unit be though?
According to at least one NFL.com writer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a Top-10 unit when compared to the rest of the league.
In 2017, Tampa’s defensive front-four rotation contributed to the team finishing dead last in sacks (22) and tied for seventh-worst against the run allowing 4.3 yards per carry.
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Vinny Curry, Jason Pierre-Paul, Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein and Vita Vea were all added. Along with the return of third-year pro Noah Spence, this unit is going to look vastly different than it did the year prior.
But is this really a good thing? Beyond names and previous accomplishments, the success and failure of a defensive line hinges in large part to synchronicity.
Fail to work together, and the whole line will struggle. Even when individual stats and accomplishments are present. And when the front-line is suffering, it’s only a matter of time before everything behind it starts to pay the price as well.
We’ve yet to see this group in its whole sum working together, and until we do I’m going to reserve real judgement.
Fortunately for us however, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com doesn’t feel the need to wait and has released his rankings for the top defensive lines in the league for 2018.
Eight teams are currently listed in the posted article and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line sits eighth among them.
Rosenthal questions the ability to build a defensive line in one off-season, and refers to the 2016 New York Giants as a sign it is possible.
He identifies JPP and Curry as “win now” pick-ups, which is a sentiment I’ve echoed in thinking the team would likely not be bringing the two veterans back in 2019. Instead, they’ll use them for the year while developing talent behind them or signing/drafting younger replacements next off-season.
The most intriguing line in Rosenthal’s article came at the end when he wrote about All-Pro Gerald McCoy, writing,
"“Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy remains at the center of it all, the equivalent of a straight-A student for his entire career, too often stuck on a group project with a bunch of dummies.”"
Well, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call his former Bucs teammates dummies – at least not all of them – but I get where he’s coming from in his analogy.
A rise from the bottom to the eighth spot in the league would be a monumental climb for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line. So, let’s hope these new faces in the group help improve the GPA a bit.
For those interested, the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars sit ahead of the Bucs in Rosenthal’s current rankings.
How do you feel about this ranking? Where would you put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ re-designed front line group?