Last season was a tale of two defenses for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles came in and made the switch to a 3-4 defense, which resulted in far more sacks and pressures than previous seasons. The beginning of the season was shaky for the secondary. Once the young defensive backs gained confidence and became comfortable, we saw a very solid overall defense. How will this translate into the 2020 season?
To their credit, the Buccaneers front office has done a phenomenal job of retaining most of the front seven. Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre Paul, and Ndamukong Suh will all be back in Tampa Bay for the 2020 season. These key pass rushers and run-stuffers paired up with Devin White and Lavonte David in the middle will be a force if they can all stay healthy next season. Departures from the front seven include Carl Nassib and Beau Allen, who were solid rotational players.
Tampa Bay has invested a decent amount of draft picks into their secondary over the past couple of seasons. Vernon Hargreaves III did not work out after being selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, but recent corners selected such as Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy Bunting have all shown promise and potential. These three young corners, with possibly one more addition via the draft or free agency, could be good for a very long time.
Safety has been a bit of an issue for the Buccaneers. Justin Evans did not play last season due to several nagging injuries. It is still unclear if he will be back for the 2020 season. Jordan Whitehead has been a stud since being selected in the fourth round of the 2018 Draft. Last season’s third-round safety Mike Edwards has potential as well. How ever his 2019 season was also cut short due to injury. I expect the Buccaneers to address the safety position in one of the first four rounds of the 2020 draft.
Jordan Whitehead is a no-doubt starter, but it is tough to tell who has the edge to start at the other safety position this upcoming season. Tony Jefferson is still available via free agency, but with the current cap situation, it doesn’t look like the team will be able to land him. I still believe this team needs a veteran presence in the secondary, but the options are running out.
If this defense can play as they did in the second half of the 2019 season, and Tom Brady lives up to the hype with the already fire-powered offense, this team will go a long way. One thing is for sure, there are a lot of reasons to be excited as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan right now, and this aggressive and speedy defense is one of them.