clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Can The Buccaneers' Defense Terrorize the NFL Again?

New, comments
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's note: Please welcome Jake Hamar as the latest addition to the Bucs Nation crew!

At one time, when you thought of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you thought of two words.

Scary Defense.

For years, their defense was their calling card. In the 1970's, and 80's it was Lee Roy Selmon, his brother Dewey, and Hugh Green. These guys helped the Buccaneers maintain a steady protection against the pass and run, even though their offense did little to back them up.

In the 1990's and early 2000's, during the Dungy and Gruden years, Tampa enjoyed a period of resurgence, lead by the vicious attack of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Hardy Nickerson, Simeon Rice, Ronde Barber & John Lynch. While their offense was terribly lacking in many areas, namely the quarterback position, their defense showed up every game. When you went in to Raymond James to play these guys, you knew what kind of fight it was going to be.

Fast forward to 2015. After years of lackluster play, the Buccaneers seem to carry hope that Jameis Winston is their savior. His spectacular play in college, mixed in with the expectation that Florida State fans will fill the seats to cheer him on, has given Tampa Bay football the most buzz since the Jon Gruden days.

While the attention is nice, there is one thing to consider.

The Buccaneers aren't going to win unless their defense is good.

They have some really nice pieces in that department. Gerald McCoy has made the Pro Bowl three years in a row, and for the past two years, has been a sacking machine. He averaged 8.5 last year, despite the fact he missed two games to a knee injury.

Lavonte David has been compared to great Buccaneers linebackers like Derrick Brooks, and has shown amazing ability to get the job done. Despite missing two games last year with a concussion, David still got 146 tackles, and made the Pro Bowl as a replacement.

"There's not a lot of players like Derrick Brooks", coach Lovie Smith told NBC Sports last year. "It's not even fair to compare some guys in that way. But, Lavonte David, he has a chance. He's that younger version coming up."

Despite the fact that McCoy and David have been putting up their end of the bargain, the rest of the defense have not. They ranked 25th in points allowed, and 25th in yards allowed. With totals like that, you aren't going to win many football games.

Good news for the Buccaneers, they added some guys on defense that might help the team win. Bruce Carter was brought over from the Dallas Cowboys. He seemed like he never really clicked with the Cowboys, suffering a right quadriceps injury in 2014. But Smith and GM Jason Licht obviously see something in him by signing the former North Carolina star to a four year contract.

Smith also brought in two of his former players with the Bears; Henry Melton, who made the Pro Bowl in 2012, but injuries have stalled his improvement at the defensive tackle position, and Chris Conte, who was also injury prone last year with Chicago.

While they are content on making a splash with Winston, and showcasing offensive stars like Mike Evans (and also hoping the running game picks up with a returning Doug Martin and Charles Sims), the Buccaneers must also draft key quality defensive talents if they are going to compete in the NFC South with teams like Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans.

After all, defense has been the key to the Buccaneers success in the past.

And hopefully, in the future.