Grading out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Defense

Looking back to Thursday's game, it's hard to imagine the way our defense played led to a loss.  Granted, allowing 10 points is not bad, but a loss is a loss, or so I've been told.  Let's take a gander at each of the units/positions on defense and how they fared. 

Defensive Line

To me, this has been the biggest surprise.  With a highly touted 3rd year player (Gaines Adams), some re-treads (Hovan and Sims) and Wilkerson, I don't think this group screams trouble.  But after three games, they've been pretty stout against the run (though the end of the year isnt here yet) and have generated some pressure on passing downs.  Adams hasn't quite made the impact I've expected, but I won't pitch a fit until the regular season comes.  Wilkerson showed some nice moves and explosion on Thursday night.  The big additions have been mid round picks Roy Miller and Kyle Moore.  These guys not only add some depth, they have added playmaking abilities, shown in the game against the DolphinsChris Bradwell continues to show up. An interception and a forced fumble were generated by the DL, along with 4 sacks (only one by the first string).  Grade: B

Linebackers

A mixed bag on Thursday night.  Against the run they appeared to flow to the ball, and make some nice plays.  Able to read and react.  Against the pass, there a bit iffy.  When picking up tight ends or running backs in man to man, they seem to use the trail technique, which is fine.  But in zone, they appear lost.  Not a good sign.  Mystery man Barrett Ruud has yet to do anything in preseason.  Count me as concerned.  Geno Hayes has stepped up, and I'll admit, as an FSU fan, I'm happy to see him do well, but he was my pick to start all along once we let 55 go.  Flip and Hayward are nice players at WLB, but I think Hayes is the right guy here.  Quincy Black still hasn't showed that flash that the coaches talked about.  Koutouvides and McCoy played well.  The touchdown pass by Pennington was a result of too much time in the pocket and getting lost in coverage. All in all, not a bad night, but room to improve Grade: B-

Defensive Backs

If you remove Torrie Cox from the equation, the secondary played pretty well.  No big plays, a sack (E.J. Biggers), and though some spotty communication, no real downfield threats.  When you put Torrie Cox in, it wasn't pretty.  Down the field plays, a few muggings, just not a good night.  It's hard to predict how our secondary will do without T-Jack and possibly without Talib.  Elbert Mack will need to step up and we will most likely have to count on Cox to some degree if Talib misses game time.  If this group can maintain discipline as they did most of Thursday night, should be a decent group.  And thus far, Ronde Barber has stepped up.  My only question?  We haven't played a team with a dominant receiver yet, will have to see how we match up there.  But for Thursday night, I'll take the few big plays against Cox with everyone else showing up. Grade: B-

Overall

10 points, thats all that was given up and the touchdown came after undisciplined coverage by Cox, and Pennington playing sandlot football and hitting his tight end.  Our first string gave up 3 points over one half of football, and didn't allow Miami to become any kind of threat.  That's a pretty darn good performance right there.  All in all, 4 sacks, a pick, a forced fumble and recovery, and 10 total points.  You hold the opponent to 10 points, I'll take it every week.  The defense has progressed and continued to look good in preseason.  Though we had 4 sacks, one was by the first team.  I'd like to see a bit more pressure generated. Grade: B

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