The start of the 2018 season is just a few weeks away and fans across the league are excited in some way shape or form about their respective team.
Last year, when the season ended, there wasn’t much to be excited about with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The season was a huge disappointment and it left many fans wondering what’s next? The team had problems all across the board. The defensive line, the secondary, the offensive line, you name it.
It was clear at the beginning of the offseason that the goal for Jason Licht was to improve in the trenches and make significant changes on both sides of the ball.
What has me most excited about this upcoming season, is the Buccaneers’ new look defensive line. It’s not just the players that have me excited. It’s the experience that these players are bringing to this football team that has me feeling good about this year’s defensive line.
Jason Pierre Paul is 29 years old and is heading into his ninth season, just like Gerald McCoy, and has played in 111 games in his career. On the opposite side you have Vinny Curry, who is also 29 years old, but is only heading into his seventh season. Between McCoy, Pierre Paul and Curry, those guys have played a combined 304 games in this league.
The two other additions in Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein also have some valuable experience in this league. Unrein, who just turned 31, will be entering his eighth season. Allen is the youngest free agent addition of the offseason. He is just 26 years old and will be entering his fifth NFL season.
With that being said, it isn’t just age and games played that makes me excited about this group. It’s Super Bowl appearances. Obviously, Tampa Bay hasn’t made a Super Bowl since 2002, so you can eliminate McCoy, Gholston and Spence from that list. Outside of rookie Vita Vea, who was the other addition along the defensive line, all the other players acquired this offseason have played for the Lombardi Trophy with a previous team.
Vinny Curry and Beau Allen played last year for the Eagles, Pierre Paul played for the Giants in 2011 and Mitch Unrein played for the Broncos in 2013. These guys know what it takes to get to the Super Bowl and I think experience will help guys like McCoy, Noah Spence and William Gholston who have yet to reach the playoffs during their tenure in Tampa.
It’ll sure be fun to watch this defensive line come together and I think all Buccaneer fans should be excited. It’s fair to expect that this group finds a way not to be last in the league in sacks again. In fact, I expect them to be somewhere in the range of 10-15.
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