Defensive line: D+
With so much hype about the Bucs revamped defensive line, I was expecting a bigger debut. They did allow an insignificant 29 rushing yards, which is impressive. But they did not force nearly enough pressure. The only sack they did have was because of a blitz. There were a couple of other opportunities for sacks, but they couldn’t capitalize. Jason Pierre-Paul did get hurt but regardless this defensive line needs to make a much bigger impact.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I expected the linebackers to do much better as well. In my mind, the Bucs have the best linebacker duo in the league, so maybe I’m grading tough. Kwon Alexander had a good game and even forced a fumble in a critical moment. Lavonte David is elite and I expect him to have a much bigger impact going forward.
It was evident that Brent Grimes wasn’t on the field in this contest. Carlton Davis had a tough task trying to slow down future Hall of Famer Drew Brees in the Superdome for his first game. He looked like a rookie to say the least. Vernon Hargreaves played a good game with a pass defense and a forced fumble, but he suffered what could be a serious injury. Ryan Smith looked like Ryan Smith, and, in my opinion, M.J. Stewart should have got more playing time.
I’m a big fan Justin Evans and he had a good first game. He had a fumble return for a touchdown and he had a big hit on Michael Thomas that fired up the whole defense. Chris Conte continues to look lost at times and I can’t wait for Jordan Whitehead to crack the starting line-up.