With the return of the front seven and the emergence of a solid secondary, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a defense that can be elite. They are solid against the run and continue to grow as a unit. This defense has the ability to stifle opposing offenses and should find themselves a top-five defense at the end of the season.
Benefiting from a solidified team consisting of starting players that returned from last year the defense under Todd Bowles looks to improve. Starting up front the defense is already making an impact. After three weeks the run defense sits third in yards allowed, tied for second in touchdowns allowed, and is second in average yards per rush.
The stats continue to tell the story as you look through some other metrics. The Buccaneers run defense has only allowed 12 first downs via the rush, good for second in the league.
Much of this has to do with the stellar play of two Buccaneers defenders. Pro Football Focus (Subscription Required) places Vita Vea as the ninth-best graded interior defensive lineman out of 121 qualifying players. His play will not fill a stat sheet but watching him each snap shows just how disruptive he is and his ability to free other defenders to make plays. The second player is none other than Lavonte David. The seventh-best linebacker thus far this season as graded by Pro Football Focus continues his stellar play.
Amongst the other defenders, there are contributions being made. Carlton Davis, Anthony Nelson, and stud Antoine Winfield Jr are all graded above 73 in run defense by Pro Football Focus. With solid contributions coming from all levels of the defense the Buccaneers look to be one of the best units in the league.
Its been years in the making as the Buccaneers have spent a plethora of picks on fixing the secondary. This year it seems its finally coming together. Only in week three, the Buccaneers are improving. Currently, the secondary is allowing 68.8% completion percentage. Though in the bottom half of the league it does not represent their tenacity. They are tied for first in the league for fewest passing touchdowns. The secondary is tied for second for interceptions and eleventh for pass deflections. They sit well within the top ten for yards per catch and fifth in opposing quarterback rating.
Additionally, the secondary is getting help. The defense as a unit has stacked up 20 quarterback hits and 12 sacks. Getting home to the quarterback is key to aiding the budding secondary. With a sack percentage of 9.7% (sacks/pass attempts+ sacks) the Buccaneers defense is sixth in the league.
After all the changes in the secondary, the players are starting to show growth and improve. Jamal Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Carlton Davis, Mike Edwards, and Jordan Whitehead are all rated above 66 by Pro Football Focus. To further bolster this unit, rookie standout, Antoine Winfield Jr grades at a 76.8. Ultimately, he may be one of the best steals from the 2020 draft. His play has been nothing short of stellar.
Putting It All Together
With the emergence of a solid secondary and stout front seven, the team is putting it together. The Buccaneers are second in scoring percentage as they only allow opposing offenses to score on 27.8% of drives. 16.7% of drives so far have resulted in a turnover. Good for eighth in the league. This combination has placed the Buccaneers defense at fourth for yards allowed, second for yards per play, fourth for takeaways, and second for first downs allowed.
This team is putting it together and has the potential to be elite. The real test will come in week six when the team plays the Packers in Raymond James Stadium.
Notes: Current statistical pace for the defense.
– Tackles for loss: 128
– Sacks: 64
– Quarterback hits: 106
– Interceptions: 21
– Pass deflections: 69
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