Against the Miami Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were surprisingly good against the run. They held the Dolphins to just 22 yards on 17 carries, for 22 total yards. That's an astounding average of 1.3 yards per carry. The longest run they gave up was a 16-yard run by rookie Daniel Thomas, while none of the other runners could pick their way through the Bucs' defense.
With Frank Okam and Gerald McCoy in the middle and Adrian Clayborn and Michael Bennett on the outside, the Bucs have a lot of talent on their defensive line. The defensive line has been tough to move and very disruptive in all three preseason games, so there's little reason to think this won't carry over into next year.
But while that was certainly important, that aspect of the team's play was present against the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots as well. And the Bucs did not do nearly so well against those two teams. Which is why I think the play of the linebackers and safeties played a big role in their stopping the Dolphins' running game. Unlike in previous games, no backside cutback was open, every linebacker was in his hole, and the defensive backs were in position to make the play when necessary. Better yet, everyone flowed to the ball carrier, and massive gang tackles were frequently the result.
Still, that kind of discipline has been sorely lacking these past two years. One game of solid and disciplined football in a preseason game does not make a defense, and the Bucs will certainly have to show that they can do this consistently. But the run defense certainly looks much improved over last year's poor effort.