Has the Bucs Secondary Improved Going into Upcoming Season?

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With the overhaul of a very disappointing defense now in the past, and the focus being on learning from their mistakes and realizing how each position affects the others, the defense this year looks on paper like they will compliment themselves nicely.

The chatter this offseason has been very similar to last season, which needs to be realized about this team. Last year, during the underwear football time of the year, critics weren’t exactly raving about our defense, but a lot was being said about what they would be capable of. Playoffs and Super Bowl contention was being thrown around lightly and realistically, that was an absolute disaster.

Moving forward to the present I understand the reality of expectations, but the work needs to be put in, and maybe the biggest indirect addition to this team was Brentson Buckner. Coach Buckner has a no B.S. attitude and it’s a refreshing one, maybe one that people within the organization believe will have an effect on all coaches and players within the compound.

With Coach Buckner bringing accountability to the defensive line, you can expect to see the Buccaneer secondary to have their chances at making plays as this pass rush should be night and day different from last year. Vita Vea, JPP, Vinny Curry, and Mitch Unrein are going to bring much-needed life to this line and from hearing the improvements of Noah Spence as well as Will Gholston, the line should just be much more productive raising hell on other quarterbacks.

Now that the quarterbacks will be running for their lives from our ferocious defense this coming season, (coffee is strong this morning and I’m going 100% optimistic) the new additions to the secondary will have more chances to make the plays they hope for.  Last year you could have timed the quarterbacks in the pocket with a sundial, and asking defensive backs to shadow receivers, or stick with zone coverages for 5, 6, heck, 7 seconds, is just too much.

Brent Grimes and Carlton Davis I expect to be our outside corners with Hargreaves playing inside this year. I think that allows for an upgrade to our nickel packages with Vernon being more comfortable in the middle, and also allows for an upgrade on the outside as Carlton Davis has performed well so far. His style of play suits this defense better and you can expect more man to man, with some press on the outside. It may only be 1 new corner on the field, but it is an upgrade to 2 positions if the hype is real with how Carlton has played so far.

As our cornerback situation has made a few subtle but recognizable changes, the safeties also will benefit from the improved defensive line as well as the cornerback changes. Getting players in a place where they feel most impactful is a huge benefit to the player as he is less likely to be second-guessing his split-second decision making. With Vernon in a more comfortable spot and the outside corners developing a better understanding of their responsibilities, the safeties can look for more game-changing plays or be even more involved in the run game, like Justin Evans for example.

Evans didn’t start the year out as a starting safety, but half way thru the year he has earned that spot. As a rookie, he understood where he could make an impact and he did both in the run game as well as the pass. I think between Evans making great plays last year as well as the competition heating up with Chris Conte and Jordan Whitehead as well as the others, the entire secondary unit can do a complete 180 and be a feared unit for opposing offenses moving forward.

 

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