The Buccaneers defense from a health perspective is a total mess. The team has been without top pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, top linebacker Lavonte David, last years first round pick Vita Vea and arguably the most athletic safety on the roster, Justin Evans. Four key players who have yet to suit up yet... it hasn’t made a bit of a difference overall.
Todd Bowles was brought in to change the culture on defense and it began with a scheme change. Part of that scheme change is a mentality change all around. The results early on in this pre-season have been quite astounding when you measure out only the series played by the expected starters.
Through roughly 17 series for this Buccaneer starting defense, the unit has yet to allow a touchdown. Furthermore, only 5 drives have resulted in points for their opponents at the moment. The contributions from players that have attributed to this are numerous and come from all levels of the defense.
With the starters work this preseason over with game wise, one can say with confidence that it was the best start for several players going into a regular season. Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves III have looked like starting caliber corners with Davis really taking positive strides forward. Our own David Harrison talked about these two and some others earlier this week here. The biggest surprise of all may even be how dominant Jordan Whitehead has looked early on with a nice interception before the half against Cleveland and some well timed hits in the two games prior.
Up front, without the likes of Vea and JPP, the team has still found ways to contain and cause confusion up fron to opposing offensive lines. The two starting quarterbacks that the defense has faced this year, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield, went a combined 20 for 44 on pass attempts the last two weeks with a portion of Rosen’s work not even coming against the full starting defense.
As a team, all strings, the Buccaneers have 10 sacks through three games to go along with 2 interceptions and 17 tackles for a loss. Todd Bowles is leaving his stamp on this team and the best is safely said... yet to come with big time starters still working their way back. This side of the ball is far inferior from a talent perspective in comparison to what the offensive staff has to work with but it hasn’t mattered a single bit. What has happened is impressive and best yet, I dare to say it’s possible to carry it over to the regular season.