Preseason Standouts: Defense

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I will have to say that this defense looked damn good this preseason even with the 2nd and 3rd team players. Todd Bowles has changed the mindset of this team dramatically. From what I’ve seen in the four preseason games this team has changed from a bend but don’t break defense to an attacking style.

 

Interior Defensive Line

Patrick O’Connor has grown since last season and has had splash plays all preseason. He has had pressures on multiple plays and had a sack against the Cowboys. Future is looking bright as he finished this preseason with 2 sacks under his belt.

Rakeem Nunez-Roches is another player that has worked hard to change from one season to another. That usually helps with better coaching. He finished the preseason with two sacks both came against the Browns.

Winner: Patrick O’Connor

 

Edge Rush/OLB

Shaquil Barrett has played exceptionally well all offseason and finished the preseason up with a dominating performance against the Cowboys. Barrett finished the preseason with two sacks and multiple pressures in four games.

Noah Spence has elevated his game one by staying healthy and the second was that he found his confidence back that he had in college and in his rookie year one with the Buccaneers.

Winner: Shaquil Barrett

Honorable mention: Devonte Bond, Carl Nassib

 

Inside Linebacker

Kevin Minter finished the preseason with 12 tackles and .5 sacks. He was the most consistent player at this position this preseason. Minter made plenty of plays this preseason and has fans confident if his number is called to play.

Jack Cichy had multiple splash plays this preseason and had a great fumble recovery in the final game against Dallas. Cichy is a very vocal player and has his confidence back after recovering from his knee injury. He finished the preseason with 13 tackles and a sack.

Winner: Kevin Minter

 

Defensive Backs

Jamel Dean had a rough start to his preseason after starting off very slow recovering from his knee injury and getting back up to speed in being football ready. Dean found a way to turn that all around and get an interception after he dropped a possible pick six.

M.J. Stewart gained weight in the offseason to put on more size to play the box safety role. Stewart has made a HUGE leap from year 1 to year 2. He has taken ownership of this secondary and is playing like he owns the defense. Stewart made a few great pass breakups when the ball was thrown his way.

Jordan Whitehead is someone I was never worried about growing from year 1 to year 2. Whitehead made a great interception in the Browns game right before the half.

Winner: Jordan Whitehead

 

Summary

The defensive will be improved this season under Todd Bowles because of the aggressive mindset Bowles has. Bowles will not accept weakness in this new defense and wants to make opponents QBs uncomfortable as possible. What I’ve seen over these past few weeks is something the fans have been waiting to see for some time.

Overall Winner: Todd Bowles

 

Photo credit: Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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