For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, depth along the defensive line was important to upgrade heading into the 2018 offseason. Lack of a pass rush and stopping the run resulted in many misfortunes late in games due to the inability to close them out.
All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy continues to be the anchor of the line. The front office has tried to bring in help and coaches have tried rotated bodies in and out. But nothing has worked. Regardless of who was in, opposing offenses gashed the Bucs’ front.
Enter defensive tackle Beau Allen.
Known for his play against the run, Allen helped build a top ranked run defense in Philadelphia. Although the Eagles played well together to accomplish such a goal, it was the mindeet of the players that got them to No. 1.
“We were the number one run defense last year and I think, to toot my own horn a little bit, I was a big part of that,” Allen said. “We had a lot of good defensive lineman, a lot of good defensive players last year, so that went into it as well. It’s definitely mentality and I think that’s one thing that I pride myself on, stopping the run and being a tough competitor in there.”
Tampa Bay needed that toughness up front. Robert Ayers and Chris Baker were unfortunate experiments that are no longer in pewter. Noah Spence has potential but missed more than half of the 2017 season due to injury. Like stopping the run, stopping the pass is equally as important.
Enter defensive end Vinny Curry.
Curry is with the Buccaneers to go to work on improving the team up front on the defensive side of the ball. Coming off of a three-sack season, the veteran defensive end knows there is more to being a defensive lineman than just sacks.
“In our D-line room, tackles for loss are almost as good as getting a sack,” Curry said. “When you’re hunting and you can tackle a running back behind the line of scrimmage, that’s just another tally to put on the board to be proud of in our room, as a defense. That trickled down. Our secondary, they pride themselves, they were calling themselves the ‘No Fly Zone,’ so they didn’t want to let passes get caught on them. We didn’t want any running back to have over 100 yards on us and it was preached around the whole building. It kind of trickled down through all three groups from the secondary to the linebackers and our d-line.”
The Bucs wanted to continue to beef up their defensive line after signing Allen and did so with the acquisition of Curry. After not agreeing to a paycut in Philadelphia that led to his release, the 29-year-old felt that following his former Eagles teammates Allen and wide receiver DeSean Jackson south to Tampa Bay was the right move.
”Beau Allen is the smartest football player I’ve ever played with,” said Curry. “The way he can break a team down is [incredible.] I tell him all the time, ‘Man you’re going to be a defensive coordinator one day,’ the way he can do it. That’s very exciting for us. Another familiar face is DeSean [Jackson]. When I first got to Philadelphia as a rookie, he kind of took me under his wing a little bit. He was a great example for us young kids to see. Even getting ready for the Super Bowl, he was texting everybody good luck and everything because he’s a great teammate. It was good to have some familiar faces in the building.”
Tampa Bay gave up an average of 30-plus yards per game more than the Eagles did on the ground. Allen and Curry — Super Bowl champions — know what is required to get things done and done right. The Bucs have done decent work thus far to improve their defensive front by acquiring the services of two players from a very successful.
Now it’s time for the coaching staff to start piecing it all together and making sure they are in position to succeed.