We've graded out the offense after the first preseason game (can be seen here), now let's turn our heads to the defense. This is a unit that not only lost on field and locker room leaders, but guys that were counted on to make plays. We've taken some of the same players and shuffled the deck, moving them to a new spot on the field. We've asked some players to bulk up to fit the new scheme, and others to learn new moves to become the player they should have been. Let's see how the defense grades out.
First String - When looking at an entire unit, the grading becomes more a function of the team than the players. The first string D line provided some good plays, but seemed inconsistent overall. Stylez G. White had a great game, and it only took a quarter to put the numbers up, going for 3 tackles, a sack and a pick. Overall, the line wasn't creating the pressure needed to wreak havoc and keep it at a 4 man rush. In his limited time, Gaines Adam didn't record anything statistically significant (no tackles or sacks). The run was shut down with a mob attack, but the Titans had plenty of time to throw. Grade: C
Second String and beyond- You could almost throw the same analysis in here as we did for the first string. The second string didn't register a sack, and only a very small amount of pressure. The running game wasn't able to get going, minus one long run by Javon Ringer. One of those mediocre efforts that will lose more games than they win. Grade: C
Jermaine Phillips - He did generate one tackle and one assisted tackle but overall, did exactly what I expected. His first game was largely an expirement. He showed the same flashes he did as a safety, and the same problems. Missed a few tackles where he was first to the ball carrier and rather than make a sure tackle appeared hell bent on blowing the play up. Result? He did neither. Will take some time to acclimate, but must prove to be a better tackler to succeed. Grade: C-
Quincy Black - I was as excited as anyone to see him play. Go check the boxscore, he didn't make it in there. Disappointing. For all the hype, all the talk, he didn't show up on paper, but played well on the field. Looked fluid in coverage and was able to get up the field in limited attempts. Need more film to study him in live action. Grade: C+ but should be INC
Rest of the First String - Really just Barrett Ruud. 1 assisted tackle. Have to credit him or Bates' for the run defense. The players were in the right position to shut it down. Excellent job in flowing to the ball as a team. Looked to be more of the same, in a good way. Grade: B
Second String and on - There were some fantastic plays, and some not so good plays. Geno Hayes was flying around, Adam Hayward made some good tackles, but there were plenty of missed opportunites. Guys getting stuck on blocks, not hanging in coverage. Was pleased with their effort against the run game. Grade: C+
Sabby Piscitelli - Good play on the interception. Didn't get beat deep. Looked to be in position, played the run well. Great start to 2009. His playmaking ability has always been discussed, but needs to maintain discipline in positioning and stay healthy. Grade: B+
Tanard Jackson - I'll admit, I didn't watch him too closely. Only big play involving T-Jack was a long completion to Bo Scaife with TJ in trail mode. Would like to see tighter coverage, but he gives up side and there are inherent difficulties with a safety on a tight end. Grade: C
Ronde Barber - Pretty darn pleased with his effort. Nice tackles in the backfield. Looked at home in coverage. Was able to read and react. Very positive step for Ronde in shutting the media up. Grade: B
Aqib Talib - Only big play his way was the Sabby INT and Talib was in good position. Will need to see some more time on field or more attempts his way. Grade: INC
Second String - The obvious blown coverage on the VY to Britt TD. Mack, for all his playmaking in camp, was so-so. Made a nice deflection, also lucked out on a pass attempt where he was late to get a hand up in the endzone. Torrie Cox was alright in coverage. An average effort from an average group of players. Grade: C
The defense as a unit played well, particularly against the run. The defense shut down the Titans after a fumble in our own territory and only surrendered 6 points in first half. Pass defense looked to be in good order, but pass rush was lacking. Was thinking about a B minus, but gave up 20 points (other 7 were from Freeman pick) and didn't allow run game to get going. Very solid first effortFinal Numbers: 17 allowed first downs, 7/15 (46%) on 3rd downs, 92 rushing yards, 186 passing yards (278 total), 2 sacks, 2 INT's. Overall Grade: B
So what do you think Buc's fans? How would you grade out the Bucs defense after their first game?