The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take the field Sunday evening in hopes of securing their second Super Bowl victory. Where this team has come from on a defensive standpoint has been incredible to witness. Growing through the draft has paid off for general manager Jason Licht as he’s assembled a championship-caliber defensive backfield.
But how will these young players fair against a dangerous offense in the Kansas City Chiefs? The bottom line is that they’ll have to limit what wide receiver Tyreek Hill does vertically. The secondary will have to support the defensive line in coverage to allow the Buccaneers’ pass rush to get home to quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Anyone who witnessed Hill and Mahomes abuse cornerback Carlton Davis may have little faith in Davis in round two. But this will be a different showing I believe as this defense has been playing aggressively in the secondary during the postseason. With defensive coordinator Todd Bowles having his defense play in more man to man coverage situations, the defensive backfield has been able to limit a lot of what opposing offenses want to do vertically.
Along with Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting has been historic in his first postseason showing. Murphy-Bunting has been able to intercept three passes in the postseason, putting him in prestigious company for postseason interceptions. The main thing that has created these turnovers is the defensive backfield being able to stay opportunistic. I would say that trend continues this Sunday.
– Carlton Davis III: 3 PBU’s, 6 Tackles.
– Sean Murphy-Bunting: 1 INTs, 1 TFL, 4 Tackles.
– Jamel Dean: 2 tackles, 1 PBU.
The Buccaneers were without both of their starting safeties in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay. Losing a guy like Antoine Winfield Jr. could’ve been detrimental to this defense against a guy like Aaron Rodgers. But the Buccaneers’ depth on defense has been a bright spot this season. Safety Mike Edwards got the start against Green Bay and the secondary seemed to be able to pick back up where they left off against the New Orleans Saints.
Edwards has been another player who has been opportunistic in his time on the field. Whether he’s able to come up with a game-sealing interception or pass break up, Edwards has been a playmaker. We’ll most likely see Winfield Jr. and safety Jordan Whitehead take the majority of the snaps in the Super Bowl.
Before he left the game against Green Bay with a shoulder injury, Whitehead was a man looking to put a hurting on the Packers skill players. The way he flew around the field making tackles during that game almost reminded me of the hard-hitting former Buccaneers safety, John Lynch. Whitehead had a crucial forced fumble in the NFC Championship game that allowed quarterback Tom Brady and the offense to put a little cushion on their lead. He’ll be a very important component on this Buccaneers defense Sunday evening.
– Antione Winfield Jr.: 1 Sack, 1 TFL, 1 PBU, 3 Tackles.
– Jordan Whitehead: 1 TFL, 1 INT, 3 Tackles.
– Mike Edwards: 1 PBU, 2 Tackles.
After being deemed one of the worst secondaries in the NFL by talking heads, this Buccaneers’ defense took it to heart especially Davis. They’ve been able to close out games in the fourth quarter during the postseason and has been a huge part in how and why this team has succeeded this last month of football. Can they keep it rolling against Mahomes and company?