ESPN: Buccaneers defense one of the most improved

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense has been horrible for quite a while. Entering the 2019 season the Buccaneers made a lot of moves to fix this defense. An entirely new coaching staff, new players on the defensive line and, of course, drafting several defensive backs. Did it work? Sorta.

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles had his hands full with taking over arguably the worst defense in the league. Bowles hasn’t quite figured out the recipe to fix the pass defense, but the run defense is a different story.

National Recognition

Recently ESPN listed the Buccaneers defense as the leagues most-improved in 2019. The 4-letter network used the DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) to measure the improvement of the defense.

Here’s the explanation:

“Intriguingly, this is almost all driven by a huge change in run defense DVOA. The Bucs have, by far, the best run defense DVOA in the NFL at -35.0%. Last season, they were at 3.0%, which was the second-worst in the NFL. Bowles has run an aggressive pass defense, blitzing at a 47.7% rate on dropbacks that has almost doubled the rate Tampa ran last season. Of course, that has barely touched the Bucs’ bottom-line pass defense DVOA, but their coverage players haven’t been very good, and Vernon Hargreaves was actually released. Vita Vea deserves a lot of praise for his role in buffing this run defense.”

One Down, One To Go

The improvement in the run defense is obvious. With the addition of Ndamukong Suh (DT) and Vita Vea (DT) starting to come into his own, it’s not rocket science to figure out what caused the improvement. The issue with this defense now is solely on the pass defense. That facet of the team is bad on an epic level, but patience is needed to totally fix ALL of the defenses’ problems. While it’s understandable that fans are tired of being patient look no further for hope in what Bowles has been able to do for the run defense.

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