Buccaneers losing top run defense in NFL doesn’t matter
By Rob Leeds
The Buccaneers don’t need the best run defense in the NFL to be great on that side of the ball.
The Buccaneers defense has been known for one thing above all else during the Todd Bowles era: a dominant front seven.
This group has been one of the best in the NFL with All-Pro-caliber talent spread throughout both levels, and this group playing well has been a huge catalyst for the defensive turnaround.
The Bucs made life hard for everyone with this unit, from putting pressure on the quarterback with unique blitz packages and special pass rushers to making it next to impossible to run the ball against some of the best run stoppers in the league.
The best run defense in the NFL has a very nice ring to it, and while the Bucs have lost that moniker this season, it isn’t as bad as it seems.
A great run defense in the modern era brings far less to the table that a good pass defense. Teams throw the ball more than the run, and the pass brings more yards per attempt than rushes. The pass is king, and shutting down the run forces teams to do something that is already more effective.
In many ways, this great run defense made life difficult for the Buccaneers at times. Teams that abandoned the run were able to throw the ball more, which is exactly what the Bucs don’t want teams to do. The pass is already hard enough to stop as is, and injuries only make this prospect that much more difficult.
Tampa could’ve saved itself hundreds of passing yards by allowing opponents to pick up a few more yards on rushing attempts. This may sound counterintuitive to fans of the old way the game was played, but everyone can see that giving up 4.3 yards per carry is much better than 6.5 yards per passing attempt.
It hurts pride not to have the title as the best in this aspect of the game, but third in the league in this regard is still great. However, if the Buccaneers really want to be great, they need to focus on getting their passing defensive numbers higher, even if they are trending in the right direction with injured players returning.
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