The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have built teams around their defense for as long as I can remember, but that’s finally changing this season. Slowly, though, and the Bucs will still need a good defense--which is why it’s a little odd we haven’t talked defense all that much this offseason.
Over at Good Morning Football on NFL Network, Peter Schrager argued that the next big NFL defense is going to be the Bucs’, based around Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and Gerald McCoy. I hope he’s right, but I’m skeptical.
The Bucs are going to need more than two good linebackers and a very good defensive tackle, though. They’ll need quality play out of their defensive backs, and especially their safeties—and that may be a big issue.
The two starting safeties right now are Keith Tandy and Chris Conte, mostly because newcomers J.J. Wilcox and Justin Evans haven’t been able to practice yet—undisclosed injuries are preventing them from beating out anyone.
But all four of those players have severe limitations: Tandy isn’t a rangy athlete, Conte has too many big lapses in a season, Wilcox is mostly a box safety, and Evans is a second-round rookie who had issues tackling in college. If we can just splice them all together the Bucs would have the best safety around, but alas: choices will have to be made.
A defense is only as good as its weakest parts, and it’s entirely possible the Bucs defense will be felled by its safety play. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in training camp, though—and there’s a chance, albeit a small one, that the Bucs’ pass rush will be so devastating that they can get away with some coverage busts on the backend.