Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans have been frustrated by the team’s defensive unit for years. Really, not since the Super Bowl winning force that was the defense of the early 2000’s started disbanding, have we seen a unit which could measure up even closely to those.
With the hiring of Todd Bowles and a switch to a more aggressive 3-4 base scheme, this was all supposed to change. So, one could hardly blame fans and even the media for wanting - or expecting - to see this newly adopted scheme full of outside blitzes and inside blitzes and combination blitzes. All the blitzes.
This isn’t what stepped on the field though on last Friday night when the Bucs faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the 2019 NFL Pre-Season.
Perhaps expectations were too high or maybe the defense just isn’t there yet. I lean more on the first part than I do the second.
Either way, there were grumbles which fell short of complaints, but still, some concerns about how the defensive scheme looked in it’s debut appearance.
Jenna Laine of ESPN asked Bowles the question all of those who felt let down wanted to know.
I asked Bucs defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers how much of Todd Bowles’ defense they’re actually showing in preseason. His response — “10 percent.”— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) August 12, 2019
This should make some people feel better, all the while probably frustrating them a little bit as well. Frustrating in the sense they now know they’ll have to wait until September to see the full defense in all of its (hopeful) glory. Happy though in knowing what we saw in Pittsburgh is not even close to what the finished product will be.
Perhaps some better news to double-down on this development is the fact media members covering Buccaneers practice moving forward have been asked not to record or intimately describe activities occurring outside of position drills. Especially during practice sessions closed to the public.
Why? Because the team is getting deeper and deeper into installs and actual regular season strategies. Installing things they don’t want opposing teams to know. And working on strategies they don’t want publicized.
This is where the crucial work is done to help determine how the regular season unit will play and how they will look when it’s time for the wins and losses to count. This is where they get it right.
With all this considered, waiting another three weeks or so shouldn’t seem like too big a sacrifice to make for a better end product on the field.