CBS: Bucs To Have A Top-10 Defense? Probably

May 26th, 2022


The reason why the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2020 was quite simple: Defense.

In the playoffs, facing a gauntlet of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, the Bucs’ defense knocked off in succession Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Pat Mahomes. The defense allowed those teams an average of 18 points a game.

Folks, if your defense only gives up 18 points in a playoff game, you are likely to win.

Overall, Todd Bowles’ Bucs defense has been fair to good when it comes to total yards allowed. In 2019, the Bucs allowed 5,503 yards, which was 15th best in the NFL. In 2020, the Bucs gave up 5,235 years for 6th best defense. Last year teams racked up 5,635 yards (in 17 games) which ranked the Bucs at 13th.

How will the Bucs do this year with Bowles adding the duties of head coach? Jared Dubin of CBS Sports thinks Bowles will do just fine. In fact, Dubin thinks the Bucs could have a top-10 defense again.

The Steelers and Bucs both have top-notch talent and there’s not much question about them having above-average defenses. Only Todd Bowles adding responsibilities as head coach and the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul kept Tampa out of the top group.

Joe can’t go top-10 defense quite yet. Joe has two serious questions basically rolled up into one.

With Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh looking unlikely to return, Joe is not comfortable expecting so much production from a pair of guys who have had a grand total of six starts between them, Logan Hall and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

That’s not just a tall task, that’s a helluva lot of pressure on a pair of young guys. Also, can they produce enough to match or exceed Suh and JPP’s numbers?

Yeah, JPP was a non-factor last year because of his torn rotator cuff. Still, he was solid against the run. And Suh, good luck finding a replacement who is as rock solid as him in run-stoppage and durability.

Joe hopes JTS and Hall blow up. But Joe has to see it first. For a team whose players are already saying “Super Bowl or bust,” expecting Hall and JTS to play like JPP and Suh during the Bucs’ Super Bowl run seems a bit of a reach.

33 Responses to “CBS: Bucs To Have A Top-10 Defense? Probably”

  1. Bob in valrico Says:

    I am hoping the trio of JTS, Nelson, and Hall will give the Bucs a three headed
    monster with the versatility to mix and match and allow JTS and Hall time to develop.

  2. Dman Says:

    No way this is a Super Bowl caliber defense.

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Best analysis of the projected 2022 Bucs’ defense I’ve read anywhere Joe. You nailed it.

    Our 2021 defense was a mirror image of our 2020 defense, but injuries crippled it at various times throughout the season. Nevertheless it performed BETTER in terms of Points per Game Allowed (20.8 PPG in 2021 vs 22.2 PPG in 2020). We ended up with a somewhat better record but couldn’t git ‘er done in the playoffs against the eventual SB winner. It happens, but close only counts when tossing grenades.

    What’s changed in the interim (besides our DC becoming dual-hatted as our HC) is that we’ve (1) lost Whitehead but gained Neal & Ryan; (2) lost Suh, JPP & McLendon but gained Hall; and (3) lost Minter (our only experienced ILB). Plus we’re facing a much tougher schedule supposedly; time will tell there. Personally I think we’ll be better on the back end despite losing Whitehead, but our Front-7 will be our Achilles Heel with our current personnel. If we go into the season with our current roster, we’ll be lucky to be a Top-20 defense, much less a Top-10.

    Obviously plenty of time to ‘fix it’. It’d be nice to pick up a starter-quality veteran CB, but that’s much less of a need than grabbing a solid veteran ILB to back up LVD & White. Biggest need of all though is to add a quality DT/NT to replace Suh AND McLendon. Personally I’d prefer that it be Suh himself.

  4. Bird Says:

    I dont think the bucs are done adding to the defense.

    Jpp and suh may not want to get picked up if bucs throw out the olive branch later in offseason , but dont forget about guys still out there and guys who will get cut on final cuts. This will give bucs some time to see what they have

    But yes another d tackle and edge would be wise

  5. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Defense wins championships. It still hold tru. It’s why the lightning won against the panthers it’s why we won the chip on 02 n 20. If we can hold teams to 20 pts a game we will win a lot of games cause our offense will put up 30 no prob. I love defense. I mean LOVE. I first started watching football when we had sapp lynch n the whole crew n it was hit you in the mouth football. That’s where my love for defense came from n still hold tru to this day. Let’s goo

  6. UKBuccaneer Says:

    This team will go as far as the secondary takes it. That’s the weak link, same as it’s been for years.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The roster isn’t complete yet & I suspect any additions will be on the Dline.

  8. Armybucfan Says:

    This teams weakest link is a defensive line. Our secondary gets exposed because we cannot put enough pressure on the quarterback to make Arrant passes to allow our cornerbacks to be in position to make a play on the ball. Losing JPP isn’t as detrimental as losing SUH. I hope for all of our sakes as bucs fans that this team transforms into a dominating defensive juggernaut to match our offense for what will probably be the last super bowl possibility we will see in the near future with Brady at the helm.

  9. Fansince76 Says:

    totally agree with you Joe!

  10. #8 Says:


  11. PSL Bob Says:

    Thanks Joe for sparking that memory of our SB run. Brees, Rodgers, and Mahomes. That truly is impressive. In that final game against the Chiefs, our D, particularly Shaq, had Mahomes running for his life, play after play. Too bad we couldn’t have repeated that in the final Rams game last year.

  12. Pewter Power Says:

    People really are afraid of the unknown. You can’t have suh and gronk, everybody knows it and suh is replaceable. Rookies do come in and make an impact and so can ours especially playing next to vea. Can’t be scared to move on from a 35 year old player especially one wanting a lot of money

  13. Anonymous Says:

    The problem with bringing Suh back is that we already have massive money tied up in shaq and VV. Lavonte cut us a break but next year it’s going to be DW or corners that will have to be paid. That’s why wasting premium picks for punters and moving up instead of back in the second round is going to kill us when the “kick the can “ super bowl run is over. Suh is always in shape and he plays with controlled aggression. He imo is the best lineman left in free agency. Unfortunately the cap space or the Bucs will to sign him is lacking

  14. geno711 Says:

    Yards allowed per defense is an important stat.

    Call me crazy but to me a more important stat is points allowed per game.

    In 2021 the Bucs were 5th.
    In 2020 the Bucs were 8th.

    Two very impressive years in a row.

    To me our biggest need is another DT. Whether that be Suh or Sheldon Richardson to give us quality snaps.

  15. Max Vasher Says:


  16. SPARKY Says:

    Two reasons New England had top 10 defenses during their 20 year run. Brady and Brady. Tom took less money, so Belichek could spend it on his defense. He sure didn’t give Brady and receivers or running backs. Second, Brady would slowly and efficiently work the ball down the field, taking a lot of time off the clock. Their defense was always well rested, and usually playing with a lead, making the other team one dementional. I would like to see us do this on offense more, and not go for the biscuit as often. In the words of Perry Mason, let the defense rest.

  17. Buczilla Says:

    Like all things Bucs, I need to see it to believe it and to me, outside of three players we are weak as all hell in the secondary. Did Dubin not watch our playoff loss against the rams or the first loss to the rams? How about the garbage quarterbacks having success against us during the regular season? I know, “injuries”, but it’s usually a common practice among humans to attempt to fix a recurring problem. Other than picking up our 27th nickelback and 17th safety I’ve seen no improvement to our secondary. Maybe Licht can get us a bit of insurance at outside corner in case one of our starters goes down?

  18. Brandon Says:

    Here’s the major issue with the defense… the Bucs DON’T RUN the ball. The offense scores quickly and often and other teams are forced to play catch up and throw, throw, throw. If the Bucs ran the ball more, they would also have less quick three and out drives and not keep putting their D back on the field. A fresh defense is a better defense. Look at yards allowed per play, yards per rush, and opposing QB rating to see how good a defense really is. An average defense can look great when paired with a good ball control offense while a great defense can look average when paired with an offense that doesn’t possess the ball.

  19. Netwalker Says:

    One of the best things to help the defense is a ball control offense. The defense cannot give up points with the offense on the field. If the ground game is more effective this year a top ten defense is possible.

  20. Defense Rules Says:

    Brandon … ‘Here’s the major issue with the defense… the Bucs DON’T RUN the ball’.

    Interesting position (and I want to see us run the ball more too), but there seem to be exceptions to that ‘rule’. For instance, the Bucs’ TOP in 2020 was 29:06 mins & we ran the ball on 36.3% of our plays. But in 2021 the Bucs’ TOP INCREASED by a full minute to 30:11 … yet we ran the ball LESS (on only 33.8% of our plays).

    Looking back at the Bucs’ TOP over the past 20 years (as far back as the stats went), we consistently range between 29-31 mins each year. It’s like clockwork. The only 2 years we’ve been over 31 mins TOP were 2003 & 2008. Your ‘rule’ seems to hold true in those 2 years: we ran on 43.2% of our plays in 2008 and on 40.6% of our plays in 2003. In 2008 Bucs had the #10 defense, and in 2003 we ranked #4, but not sure there’s any relationship there between running the ball & defense rankings (we had some pretty good defensive talent back then). BTW we didn’t qualify for the playoffs in either year.

    I want to see us run more too, and hopefully increase our TOP in the process, but I doubt we’d get it much above 31 mins per game average. I second what Geno711 says, that the ‘more important stat is points allowed per game’. You play to your strengths, and if that’s passing the ball, so be it.

  21. Mike Says:

    The defense is only going to be as good as the D Line. If JTS blows up, then we are looking good, so we need him to really grow into a legit threat. Losing Suh may hurt from the perspective of the run defense, but adding the rookie DT will probably offset that with better pass rush ability, and Vea can still hold it down.

  22. Allen Lofton Says:

    Bit of a reach especially for Hall being a rookie – maybe late into the season

  23. GOB Says:

    I think the biggest issue with the defense is way too much blitzing. When you have an offense that scores 30 plus almost every game, you don’t need to blitz as often as bowles does. The vast majority of QBs can’t matriculate down the field, at least not over and over again. A 40% blitz rate is bad complementary football with a high powered offense.
    I too want them to run more, and I think the lack of commitment to the run played into the defensive struggles

  24. Bucsfan13 Says:

    It seems like Joe, and a segment of other Bucs fans, have completely erased the defensive effort against the WFT in the Wild Card game. You mention the great defensive performances against Mahomes and Rodgers. I’d argue that Rodgers wasn’t bad in that game, but I’ll concede the point. Our defense made a third string QB in Hieneke look like the next Joe Montana! We were very close to losing that game. We wouldn’t even be talking about facing Rodgers and Mahomes. Our defense is the singular reason that WFT were fooled into thinking that Hieneke could be their future franchise QB next year.

  25. BillyBucco Says:

    After the camp Britt is having, Minter is an after-thought.
    We literally know nothing about the other 2 rookies at ILB.
    Key there is David staying healthy, but even White said he could see playing next to Britt for a ling time.

    I think this defense has the TALENT to be Top 5 this year.
    Yea it will look different, but we need different.
    Even when Suh and JPP were healthy we had trouble rushing the Rams and Saints.
    This year, both teams lost an ALL PRO tackle.
    I’ll need to see JTS stop the run, Hall too for that matter.
    Outside that, Hall is a better pure rusher than Suh, and JTS is stronger, faster and a better athlete than JPP RIGHT NOW.

    PLUS i guarantee you either Suh comes back or we sign Richardson.

  26. Bucsfan13 Says:

    By the way, the Packers defense will be top 5 this year. The Packers did an excellent job this off-season of fortifying their D. I doubt if our offense puts up 10 against those guys this year. I love that the Packers aren’t putting their entire success on the arms of their elder QB. Might be a smart idea to not have our elder QB lead the league in pass attempts. It was absolutely malpractice having him drop back that much. It also put added stress on our OL to pass block so often, and they did a fantastic job of holding up. They don’t get nearly as much credit as they deserve. From recent interviews I’ve heard from Clyde Christensen, it sounds like Brady communicated to him that they need to become more balanced. He knows we need to protect our defense, and you do that by not having so many three and outs.

  27. BillyBucco Says:

    What’s crazy about Richardson is that the Bucs had the 13th pick in 2013 but traded it to the jets for Revis.
    Richardson could have been a Buc for the last 9 years

  28. Joe Says:

    It seems like Joe, and a segment of other Bucs fans, have completely erased the defensive effort against the WFT in the Wild Card game.

    No, Joe is not “ignoring” that but not sure what your point is. So the Bucs didn’t play great defense in a playoff *win* to open the postseason. So the Glazers should hand the Lombardi Trophy back to Roger Goodell in shame as a result?

    The defense rose up in a major way when they needed to. Even Tom Brady said the reason they won the Super Bowl was the way the defense played in the playoffs.

    What is your point? Are you trying to say the Bucs had a horrible defense that year because they had one subpar game in a playoff win??? Talk about nitpicking. smh

    What next, Brady was a rotten quarterback in 2021 because he got shut out by the slimy Saints?

  29. geno711 Says:

    When someone picks out the Washington Football game as evidence of a bad defense for the Buc’s, I don’t get the thought over a year later.

    I am waiting to see the defenses in the last few years that have been good every game. There aren’t any. Every team in this league has a pass defense that looks bad a few games every year. Sorry, that is just the current NFL.

  30. RPK Says:

    JPP was terrible against the run all year.

    His performance against the Colts was downright embarrassing.

    They ran RIGHT AT HIM play after play on a crucial drive late in the 4th quarter that led to a TD.

    JTS was also trash against the run, but he was a rookie. Hopefully he improves!

  31. Buc4evr Says:


  32. Mike Johnson Says:

    We shall see. No hiding in this NFL. Thats the best thing about it. I’m from the Missouri Breaks crew..You gotta show me. I don’t see Tryon or Nelson making that giant leap from last season. And I do hope I am wrong. I just think instead of giving Brady more toys, we should have gone all out and developed a Kick butt Defense. Time will tell.

  33. unbelievable Says:

    Joe nailed it, and DR put the cherry on top.

    As of right now, our defense is built on one thing: HOPE.

    That’s is not good. Shaq is the only pass rusher that will make offenses think twice. That’s not enough. Obviously Vea is a terror in the run game, and occasionally again the pass… if he’s actually getting a snap…