All of the headlines revolve around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense, but the defense put on a show against the Philadelphia Eagles. Is the defense getting enough attention?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0. Nobody gave the Bucs a chance at the beginning of the season, and now they are starting to get the respect they deserve. It is becoming evident that the Bucs offense will be one of the best in the league, but their defense is what can make them a legit contender.
After Week one I was worried about a repeat performance from the Tampa defense. The Bucs allowed Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints to drop 40 points on their head. The defense turned things around in Week two.
I must give credit where credit is due. Mike Smith came up with a good game plan, and he tailored that plan to his players’ strength.
Smith had his corners play much more press coverage; he also had some nice blitz designs that made it a very long day for Nick Foles. Coach Smith showed he is willing to change, and I think that is excellent news for this Buccaneers defense.
One of my favorite things about Tampa Bay’s defensive performance is how the rookies in the secondary performed. I said before the season started that Carlton Davis was my favorite Bucs draft pick and he had a very nice rebound game.
Davis played with confidence, and it showed. He played much more aggressive in Week two, and he came away with a couple of pass deflections and a big hit on Nick Foles that I enjoyed. Davis’ performance against the Eagles could propel him the rest of the season.
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M.J. Stewart stepped into the starting nickel position very nicely. Stewart got burned by Nelson Agholor for a big gain but settled down for the rest of the contest. All of a sudden, he’s become one of the most important cornerbacks on the roster with Vernon Hargreaves out for the season.
After Chris Conte got injured in against Philadelphia, Jordan Whitehead finally got the playing time I have been waiting for. Whitehead flashed his sideline to sideline speed and had multiple big hits.
Whitehead crushed an Eagle running back at the line of scrimmage and held Zach Ertz inches short of what would have been a huge third-down conversion. Whitehead ended his day with six combined tackles in relief duty.
Smith is fearless when he goes in for the hit, and that is one of my favorite qualities in a cornerback. Smith is also a great special teams’ player, thus far, he’s been Pro Bowl caliber. He had a pair of huge tackles on Sunday.
Justin Evans has continued his special start to this season. Evans has the talent to be an elite safety. He is playing faster in 2018 and is becoming a true ballhawk. He had the big scoop-and-score in Week one and had a great pass break-up against the Eagles.
Evans took a nasty hit on the attempt but managed to get right back into the game, a gritty performance from the up-and-coming safety.
The defensive line and linebackers are playing up to par as well. They were in Foles’ face all game long. The defensive line was continually causing pressure, Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre Paul, and Kwon Alexander each had a sack.
Also, the Bucs front 7 held the Eagles to 91 yards rushing. Remember, Vita Vea hasn’t even seen the field back. This is just the beginning for Tampa Bay’s front seven.
The Bucs are undefeated in one of the toughest openings to a season in some time. Nobody gave Tampa Bay a chance, but they are finally getting recognition. The offense is the real deal. If their defense can continue to improve, Buccaneers fans should be prepared to talk playoffs very soon.