The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense will get a lot more complicated in year two of Mike Smith’s reign as defensive coordinator, Smith said today. The veteran coach claimed in his press conference that they’re past the “2+2” stage and into “calculus”.
That’s a pretty apt metaphor. Not only because the Bucs can do more with a more complicated defense, but also because a more complicated defense is more difficult to grasp for all involved—which will likely lead to more mental errors. That’s always the trade-off coaches are struggling with: eliminating mental errors, while making their defenses intricate enough to provide an actual puzzle for opposing offenses.
The Bucs’ defense wasn’t actually all that easy for opposing offenses to crack last year, though. Football Outsiders had them ranked 12th overall and the pass defense sixth. That’s not outstanding, but climbing up may be more difficult than falling down.
Of course, we already know the Bucs want to be more intricate. They added a bunch of massive defensive linemen and bigger linebackers to be able to run more 3-4 looks next to their base 4-3 this offseason, for instance.
More interestingly, perhaps, was Smith calling second-round pick Justin Evans a “hybrid safety”, who can play in the box and as a deep safety. That gives the Bucs a lot of versatility, but it also means they can ease Evans into the NFL by rotating him with a few of their other safeties—all of whom are likely better suited to part-time rather than full-time roles.
And that plays into that whole calculus thing: more versatility, more variety in personnel packages, and many different ways to attack an offense. Should be fun.