Did the Bucs Really Do Enough to Help the Secondary Improve?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ weakness has been their secondary for years. Since 2009, the Bucs have only had one year with a top-10 defense (2015). And since 2015, the Buccaneers have drafted nine defensive backs, including three in this years draft. Safe to say that Jason Licht was not satisfied with the pass defense last season. The Bucs basically hired a brand new staff. It all started with the firing of Mike Smith in the middle of the 2018 season. Then ultimately, defensive back coaches Brett Maxie and Jon Hoke were fired as well.
Regardless, the defense has been pitiful for a long time. It really seems there’s nowhere to go, but up. In fact, players seem to have already taken notice. “It’s shocking that they’re playing with their feet, they’re not getting too many holding calls, you’re not getting too many pass interference, and for the young guys that are practicing like this for the first time, it’s unique” said quarterback Jameis Winston. Jameis has been around the terrible defenses since he came in as a rookie. Those words are pretty encouraging, especially for the fans. Also, take into consideration how talented the Bucs receivers are. You could make a case to say that they are the most underrated receiving core in the league. If the defensive backs can guard their receivers well, the sky is the limit.
Hirings like Kevin Ross and Nick Rapone could elevate the play as well. Both worked with and helped cornerback Patrick Peterson get to five Pro Bowls and two first-team AP All-Pro selections (2013, 2015). Rapone was hired to be the safeties coach and he also worked with Tyrann Mathieu and helped him make his way to a Pro Bowl and first-team AP All-Pro in 2015 as well. On the other hand, Ross was hired to be the cornerbacks coach. Ross coached Antonio Cromartie in 2014 and that year he earned his way to a Pro Bowl berth. The new assistants have the résumé, the next step is to turn the defense around and make it easier for this high flying offense.