There’s no question that down the stretch in 2020, as the Buccaneers rattled off eight consecutive wins on their way to the franchise’s second Super Bowl, that the defense not only found its groove - but it became one of the most dominant defenses in the league. Now, as they set their sights on repeating as champions, the defense knows who to look to in order to raise their level of play to another echelon.
Obviously, that man is Todd Bowles.
As Bowles’ third year as defensive coordinator begins, there is a new level of accountability for the players. All the starters are back and the system needs to be run flawlessly. This team has a giant target on its back and the defense is going to be punched repeatedly throughout the season. The question is, how much can they withstand and how hard will they punch back?
Vita Vea - a vital part of the defense that was missing most of last season - is excited about what Bowles continues to bring to the table;
“I love [Todd Bowles]. I love having Bowles here. It means a lot to him to come back. He’s a great guy and a great coach. A lot of our success is through him. We get all of the limelight but he’s really the man with the plan. He sees everybody and knows all of our talents. He makes us work well together and puts plays together for us.”
Bowles is one of the most creative coordinators in the league when it comes to putting his players in a position to succeed. Not only that, but he puts his players in a position to get after the quarterback and disguises it so brilliantly that the opposing offense rarely sees it coming. That’s why Devin White is talking about being a double-digit sack guy or how Shaquil Barrett went from a sideline in Denver to the NFL’s leading sacker over the last two seasons.
Sean Murphy-Bunting weighed in on what having Bowles back does for the defense - especially his group on the back end of the defense. A group that was ranked ahead of last season dead-last in the NFL and still isn’t getting the respect they deserve among analysts across the league;
“He holds us all to a higher standard - being in the system for three years now, like I was telling him earlier – I’ve never really played for a specific coach for more than two seasons. I just know that for me, it’s a big game changer being able to come into camp already knowing the entire defense and just adding more pieces to that. And for coach Bowles being a DB - he was a DB growing up, so he has a higher expectation for the guys that are in the backend because he’s actually done that. Just having that mindset, having that mentality to always go get it and to just key in on everything, and be that secondary that [thinks], ‘We don’t want to get scored on, we don’t want you to catch balls, we don’t want you to do anything.’ We want to hold our defense to the highest standard possible.”
If this defense is going to continue with the moniker “The Grave Diggers,” then Todd Bowles is the one providing the shovels.