Buccaneers’ Defense Continues to Dominate

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When transferring between an offensive minded coach like Bruce Arians to a defensive minded coach like Todd Bowles, the Buccaneers knew they were in for a special defense. Through the first two games, this defensive unit looks special and is reminiscent of the 02’ defense. Under Bowles, the defense looks disciplined and elite on all three levels.

Going into a game against the Saints, it’s no secret that it would be a defensive game. That held true for the whole game. As a whole, the defense only gave up a little over 300 yards. And most of that came in the fourth quarter when the game was sealed. They forced five turnovers and Mike Edwards returned an interception for a touchdown to put it away. Not only is this group one of the best in football, they are also the most fun and bring a mentality we haven’t seen for a long time.

Pass Rush

When watching the Bucs play the Saints in years past, the Saints oline would shut down the normally highly effective pass rush. This year, the defensive line showed up and set the tone up front. The Bucs pass rush generated 20 pressures and sacked Jameis Winston a staggering seven times. Pressures came from everywhere, Shaq Barrett led the team with six and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Devin White each had three each.

This performance came after a 19 pressure and four sack game against the Cowboys to open the season. Being able to create disruptions for quarterbacks everywhere is the easiest way to create turnovers, and that was on full display Sunday. With Akeem Hicks getting hurt, this group could see a minor setback, but they have had a stellar first two weeks. 

Linebackers 

Devin White and Lavonte David were crucial in the Buccaneer’s Super Bowl run, and their play can dictate the tone of this defense. Good thing for the Bucs is these two seem to be playing their best football ever. Lavonte is still one of the few elite coverage linebackers, and that’s been on display this year. He’s only allowed eight catches for a total of 48 yards. David has shown he can still do more as a player, though, as he has been perfect and hasn’t had a recorded tackle yet.

His running mate, White, is off to the best start in his career. The 24-year-old linebacker is the backbone of this defense and can be found everywhere. He is currently the Buccaneers’ sack leader with three and has seemed to have improved his coverage ability. When these two guys are healthy, there isn’t a better 1-2 punch at linebacker in the NFL. 

Secondary

In years past, this group has seemed to let the defense down, whether that’s through injuries or just poor play, but now it has the looks to be one of the deepest in the NFL. Against the Saints, this group did great, Mike Edwards had a pick six and Jamel Dean had two interceptions. Carlton Davis didn’t have that great of a day, he gave up 10 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown.

Although Davis didn’t play great, this unit as a whole was borderline elite. Antoine Winfield Jr. is continuing to rise in the ranks and is putting himself in all-pro contention. Sean Murphy-Bunting and Keanu Neal are both available to come in case anyone gets hurt. 

Final Thoughts

This Buccaneers’ defense is currently playing like the best in the league, but they do have a gauntlet ahead of them. They will have to play, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in the following weeks. There is no doubt in my mind that this group can continue to play as the best in the league, with Todd Bowles this group seems to be in attack mode 24/7 and have already taken two victims.

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