Is this the Most Underrated Defense in the League?
The Buccaneers brought in a new era this offseason when they hired Bruce Arians. Arians is all about good coaching and diversity so he brought in coaches of all races and genders and experience levels. The Bucs were one of the NFL’s worst Defenses the last few seasons including giving up the 6th most total yards last season and the most total yards the season before under Mike Smith and his defensive coaching staff.
Former Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles is the new Defensive Coordinator and he has a solid resume as a coordinator. Bowles as a Defensive Coordinator in Arizona had the 6th and 24th best Defense in the NFL in his 2 seasons there which averages out to being 15th. If the Bucs were an average Defense the last few seasons, the records would have been reflected differently. Bowles is bringing in a hybrid defense along with his defensive coaching staff including Mike Caldwell (Inside Linebackers), Larry Foote (Outside Linebackers), Cody Grimm (Defensive assistant), Nick Rapone (Safeties), Kacy Rodgers (Defensive Line), Lori Locust (Assistant Defensive Line), and Kevin Ross (Cornerbacks). This staff will be working to make sure the strengths of players are being used to their advantage on the field.
Tampa Bay drafted Defense heavy this year and those players included Devin White, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, Mike Edwards, Anthony Nelson, and Terry Beckner Jr. These rookies look like they may come in and make an immediate impact especially the secondary position players. The Bucs secondary has been the laughing stock of the NFL for years due to Mike Smith having players give receivers cushion playing 10-15 off of the line of scrimmage.
The Defense is bringing back some veterans including Lavonte David, Beau Allen, Kevin Minter, Carl Nassib, and Vernon Hargreaves III. The defense also added Shaquil Barrett and Deone Bucannon to go with the young secondary of Carlton Davis, Jordan Whitehead, and Justin Evans. Noah Spence has been praised by the coaching staff this offseason but has never really had the opportunity to prove what he can do in his years in Tampa. This group of players may not stick out as the greatest impact players on paper but the way Bowles and company use them will turn them into possibly the most underrated Defense in the league this season. There will be one guarantee about the Defense though. No more playing conservative.