The Buccaneer defense in 2019 took huge leaps towards becoming feared league-wide and not enough credit was given to Todd Bowles behind the scenes.
Starting with the shocking release of long-time Pro Bowl veteran, Gerald McCoy, in the 2019 offseason, changes would become almost a certainty for the new look Buccaneers. Newly inserted defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, set out to install an aggressive and interchangeable 3-4 defense starting with the front seven and eventually addressing the secondary, via the draft.
After ridding the team of McCoy, Tampa Bay made quick work of finding his replacement, signing Ndamakung Suh from the Rams just a whole 24 hours later. The interior of the defensive line was now set with Suh and second year pro, Vita Vea, manning the middle.
Now, Bowles turned his attention to finding the perfect addition to fill in for the then injured, Jason Pierre-Paul, to man the edge and create havoc for opposing quarterbacks.
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The Bucs once again found a steal in a young outside linebacker who backed up Von Miller for years in Denver by the name of Shaquil Barrett. 19.5 sacks sacks and one NFL sack champion later and Tampa Bay made good on their $4.5 million dollar investment. Check.
Lastly, and most importantly, Bowles needed a core of cover corners that suited his new 3-4 defense.
Within the first four rounds of the draft, the team scored on picks such as Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards (with the former two being at the tops of their rookie class for corners by season’s end). Check.
With the proverbial formula now in place to give the team a crack at a solid season, Tampa Bay’s defense showed it belonged.
In just one season, the Pewter Pirate’ s defense jumped to fifth overall in the league, with the number one rushing defense. This compared to the 2018 Buccaneers defense, which ranked 32nd overall and 31st against the run.
The numbers can’t be avoided. But first, let’s recognize Todd Bowles as a defensive architect and petition to keep him in the Bay Area for years to come.