Signed in the first week of free agency to a three-year deal by the Buccaneers after winning a Super Bowl being mainly a rotational defensive tackle with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in a total of 63 games in his career but started just eight with 87 tackles and two sacks in his career, and while playing in sixteen games (3 starts) last season he totaled twenty tackles and one sack playing on 41% of the defensive snaps. One thing mentioned about Allen as he comes to the Buccaneers is his toughness, physicality, and durability as he has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL, and should be an integral part of the Buccaneers defensive line.
Signed on the same day as Beau Allen, in his seven season in the NFL he appeared both as a defensive tackle and a defensive end which bring versatility to the Buccaneers defensive line. Appearing in 95 games for three different teams while starting in 24 games totaling 126 tackles with 4.5 sacks, but last season was the best of his career playing in twelve games with eight starts totaling 32 tackles and 2.5 sacks while playing in 36.77% of the defensive snaps. Unrein provides great experience, toughness, and depth to the Buccaneers defensive line by being able to play both tackle and end.
Being released after winning a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles, Curry was scooped up by the Buccaneers joining his former Eagles teammate Beau Allen on the Buccaneers defensive line. Appearing in 84 games during his career he had never started a game until last season where he started all sixteen (nineteen counting playoffs) for the Eagles. Having career totals of 131 tackles with 22 sacks and five forced fumbles, and as a starter last season for the first time he had 42 tackles but just three sacks while playing on 55.92% of the defensive snaps. Curry provides pass rush and run defense ability to the defensive end position along with durability as he played in the last 64 games for the Eagles, and he also brings toughness, physicality, and aggression to the defensive end position that has not been seen recently.
The biggest acquisition came during the second week of free agency when GM Jason Licht pulled off the trade that made all Buccaneers stop wondering “Why the Buccaneers aren’t signing anyone is free agency?” when he acquired defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul from the NY Giants to finally “fix” the Buccaneers defensive end position. JPP has been a force in the pass rushing and run stopping game since coming into the league eight seasons ago while playing in 111 games with 85 starts he has totaled 432 tackles, 58.5 sacks, two interceptions (both TDs), 47 passes knocked down, thirteen forced fumbles, seven fumbles recovered (one TD), and one safety. Last season he played in and started all sixteen games with 68 tackles, 8.5 sacks, five pass breakups, and two forced fumbles while playing on an unbelievable 91.65% of the teams defensive snaps. Pierre-Paul’s production has stayed pretty much the same throughout his career with a few up and down seasons, but he brings a proven pass rushing run stuffer to the Buccaneers defensive end group for the first time in a long with physicality and a motor that never quits.
The Buccaneers knew that the defense was an issue and that they needed to fix the worst defense in the league, so they went full throttle into the draft using five of their eight selections on defensive players. We all know who they are by now but what effect will they bring to the defense that was worst in the league last season?
Let’s start with the first round pick who the Buccaneers moved back to twelve and still were able to select in Vita Vea we already know what he accomplished in college with 99 career tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. What he really brings to the Buccaneers in size in the middle of the line and power (41 on the bench at the combine) as he is currently the tallest (6’4”) and largest (347 pounds) defensive tackle on the line. Projected to play next to Gerald McCoy at first in a rotational role with Beau Allen as a middle clogging defensive tackle who has the power, physicality, and toughness to move the offensive line where he wants it to go. He should immediately contribute on the line taking double teams off of McCoy and the defensive ends to allow them to make plays in the backfield.
Davis was the third of the teams three second round picks but right away he might have the biggest impact of the second round choices. As we know in college he was a very physical press corner who had a knack for breaking up passes with 128 tackles, four interceptions, 28 pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. He is currently the largest corner on the Buccaneers roster at 6’1” 206 pounds and because of his size and his physically aggressive style gives him a real shot to be the second corner on the field when the season starts, and eventually might be the top corner on the field with the age of Brent Grimes.
Stewart was the second of the three second round selections and as a four-year starter in college he like Davis was also a very physical corner and had a knack for breaking up passing in fact setting an ACC record. During his college career he tallied 199 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, six interceptions, and 41 pass breakups. Playing a physically aggressive style of defense at 5’11” 200 pounds he will be immediate competition for Vernon Hargreaves and Ryan Smith on the outside and slot, but most likely he will be playing slot corner in the very near future.
Now most of you say “wait a minute Buckner is not a player that the Buccaneers acquired this off season” which is true, but he is still a much different style of defensive line coach then the guy he replaced. Known as a very vocal in your face kind of coach he is a contrast compared to Jay Hayes who was a laid back quiet coach who let his coaching do his talking. Buckner is going to hold players accountable as we have seen during OTAs if players are not doing something right they will hear about it, and it doesn’t matter if it is a veteran like Gerald McCoy or a rookie like Vita Vea a yelling will be coming.
So we have learned that last seasons Buccaneers had the worst defense in the league and were considered soft with no toughness or aggression on defense, so the Buccaneers decides to let go of guys like Baker, Ward, McClain, and Ayers. Then they brought in guys like JPP, Curry, Allen, and Unrein in free agency and Vea, Davis, Stewart, and others in the draft, and last but not least hired an aggressive defensive line coach in Buckner.
The common traits that these new acquisitions bring and GM Jason Licht searched out for the Buccaneers this off season were toughness, physicality, aggression, and a 100% motor which changed the entire chemistry of the Buccaneers defense. In theory these acquisitions could make some of the current players on the roster play with even more toughness, physicality, and aggression which then should make the defense better overall.
A lot of people say that defense start on the front lines and that is the area that GM Licht focused the most on bringing in four new players. Not just because they had the worst defense in the NFL or the least amount of sacks, but because you make the defensive line tougher more physical and more aggressive means you make the whole defense play that way. Bringing physicality toughness and aggressiveness to the secondary will also make the already strong linebacking core even better as well giving Kwon and Lavonte prime seasons.
Now its your turn to tell me if you think that these seven acquisition and possibly more will totally revamp the defense making them tougher more physical and aggressive in the long run causing the defensive line to make every facet of the defense better? Feel free to give me your input in the comments section, or directly on twitter @ND1Bucsfan and thanks for reading and hope you enjoy. Go Bucs.