New Standards On The Other Side

September 10th, 2022

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A proud unit built on applying pressure is feeling some enhanced pressure of its own.

As the Bucs prepare for Sunday night’s season opener at Dallas, Tampa Bay’s defense faces raised responsibility for team success. It’s not realistic to hold the Buc attack to the same standards it has embraced since Tom Brady’s arrival.

Byron Leftwich’s group has set a high bar the past two years.

In 2020, the Buc offense ranked third in scoring (30.8) and seventh in total yards. Last year was even better as Tampa Bay finished No. 2 in both scoring (30.1) and total yards.

Defense is primed to carry the Bucs, writes Ira Kaufman.

The 2021 Bucs were also second in the league in third-down conversion rate (47 percent) and red-zone scoring. reaching the end zone on 66 percent of their deep drives.

Because of all those touchdowns, the Bucs have managed a healthy 15-9 record under Brady when the opposition scores at least 20 points. But what if all that glorious production suffers a setback?

After all, the Bucs enter a new season with at least four new offensive starters. Even if Shaq Mason turns out to be an upgrade on Alex Cappa at right guard, there will be some significant drop offs.

Rookie Luke Goedeke is no Ali Marpet. Nobody is confusing Robert Hainsey with nasty anchor Ryan Jensen. Whoever gets the most snaps at tight end will surely operate in Rob Gronkowski’s immense shadow.

And we haven’t even mentioned Chris Godwin. Julio Jones and Russell Gage are nice additions, but Godwin was an elite receiver when he went down with a torn ACL. Who knows when, or if, he will regain his stellar form?

Tampa Bay’s offense has been remarkably consistent since Brady arrived. In Brady’s 39 games as a Buccaneer, Tampa Bay has scored at least 27 points on 28 occasions. That’s a very impressive 72 percent rate which can compensate for those rare days Tampa Bay’s defense struggles.

The Bucs still have solid weapons in Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette, but even if the pass protection holds up, there figures to be fewer holes to run through. Unlike so many of the receivers masquerading as tight ends around the league, Gronk was a willing blocker — a powerful force in a ground game that improved dramatically during his 2-year tenure.

The Bucs were justifiably confident in pounding Fournette off the right side behind Tristan Wirfs and Gronkowski. That duo has been broken up because Gronk is now pounding beers on gameday.

Can the Bucs average 30 points again this fall? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. And if that number drops to 26 or 27, Todd Bowles will need his defense to step up.

While it’s not fair to say Brady’s group has carried this franchise for the past two seasons, Buc fans have
giddily enjoyed the ride after so many years of offensive futility.

The age card is the wrong one in the deck, Ira explains..

You could also argue that Brady’s age will catch up to him … but I’m not going there. Brady has been hearing that tripe since he turned 35. That was four Super Bowl victories ago. He shows no signs of wearing down and he’s eager to frustrate all those blitzing linebackers surely coming his way this fall.

But the cast around Brady simply isn’t the same. Injuries and retirements have rearranged Leftwich’s depth chart. An offense that retained all of its starters from a championship team faces an immense challenge.

The Bucs will need more support from the other side of the ball. For the past two years, Brady and company have been doing most of the heavy lifting.

Fair is fair.

This is the season Buc defenders carry the day.

Ira loves that lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles!

It’s a new look for the iconic show with Buccaneers legend Derrick Brooks and columnist Ira Kaufman. TAMPA TWO is back — in studio! Another great presentation from The Identity Tampa Bay and Joe.

15 Responses to “New Standards On The Other Side”

  1. BucsfanFred Says:

    I think the line will be ok. Brady’s retirement will hurt next year, but this year we’re going to win one more Super Bowl
    To keep the party going a few people are talking about getting Lamar Jackson next year. I don’t see that as a good idea, but we will need somebody.
    This year is gonna rock!

  2. D-Rok Says:

    Just imagine if last year we didn’t have a 9-0 game that skewed our mean.

    This year, the D seems poised to play much better than last year. On O, there is a potential for a stellar year; indeed, it will at least be a top-10 unit, and I’d wager, a top-5 unit.

    This year’s team is an exciting unit. On offense and defense. Special teams? Well, just don’t screw anything up, guys.

    GO BUCS!!!

  3. lambeau Says:

    Defense should do well–secondary is improved and healthy; plus the
    pass rush must improve since JPP only managed 2.5 sacks last year

  4. MonkeyMan Says:

    Totally agree Ira.

    D has to step up and take some pressure off the Offense

  5. Greg Says:

    I think the healthy concern for the changes on offense are worth noting. But let’s see what this crew can do. To say Julio/Gage is a complete downgrade over Gronk/AB is iffy. It’s different. We’re deeper on D. And have more diverse weapons on O. Let’s see if the new guys on the line are up to the task!

    But as for getting to that 30 point marker? I dont worry about this. We were without both Gronk and AB last year for like what 4-5 games? Got to 30 points most of those.

    Can’t wait for the game. Finally get some answers to all these maybes and what might be!

  6. Bucs Win Says:

    Shaq will have a big game tomorrow. 9 tackles 2.5 sacks FF and a Pass Defensed

  7. Craig Says:

    I think Keift may be as good of a blocker as Gronk, so Lenny right will still work. The question is if Keift can catch passes consistently in a game.

    The defense will be better than fine if they allow their speed to be a tool for them. That have to stay loose and not get tied up.

    Defensive back field should be great if injuries don’t decimate them again.

  8. fern Says:

    Tragic so tragic.
    I hope this OL take all the comments and become beasts

  9. Infomeplease Says:

    This Dallas game should be a good test of this year’s defense. IMO, this defense is capable of being Tampa’s best yet!! We’ll get a glimpse of things to come Sunday night!! LFG!!!!

  10. JimBuc2 Says:

    Ira, why no mention of D. Prescott reaggrivating his twice surgically repaired ankle? I’m not at all concerned with how well Tampa’s offence matches up against the Cowboy’s defence. In fact I pity them; TB12 has the savvy and weapons to embarrass arrogant, handsy Jerry in his own house in primetime.
    Go Bucs!

  11. Zzbucs Says:

    Sage there is a flavour of pessimism on your lines and I don’t like How it smells.
    Big time respect for you Ira, but I am not worried as you sound.

    Lets let the time do their talking.

  12. Crickett Baker Says:

    Luke may be better than we think. Donovan said some big-time praises for him. He also claimed to have called Marpet for some tips. He will most probably make some mistakes, but the team seems pretty high on him. Can’t wait. GO BUCS!

  13. Goatfarmer Says:

    Play defense the way Best Buc traditions demand.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Kudos on an excellent ‘New Standards On The Other Side’ article Sage, although you tricked me. Based on the title, I actually thought it was gonna be about the Bucs’ defense. Instead, it was almost totally about the Bucs’ OFFENSE; the DEFENSE received an Honorable Mention in the last handful of lines and not much else … ‘The Bucs will need more support from the other side of the ball. This is the season Buc defenders carry the day.’

    Totally agree with your analysis about the Bucs’ OFFENSE …

    ‘Can the Bucs average 30 points again this fall? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. And if that number drops to 26 or 27, Todd Bowles will need his defense to step up.’

    I also think that it’s ‘unlikely’ (although certainly possible). Too many new pieces on offense (especially on our OLine) AND a much harder schedule. Also, regardless of how much of a superman everyone thinks Tom Brady is, he’s going through a LOT in his personal life, and that WILL affect him. He’s still human.

    Our starting DEFENSE has the talent & experience to be great. A Top-5 ranking is certainly possible, PROVIDING we can escape the injury bug this year. If we lose just a couple of key players, we’ll struggle I think because our DEPTH (especially in the Front-7 group) is just meh. Lose LVD or White and we’ll most likely struggle. Lose Vea or Hicks and we’ll most likely struggle. Lose Shaq or JTS, and we’ll most likely struggle. HOPEFULLY none of those concerns ever materialize.

  15. JimbobBucfan Says:

    Our defense will win at least two or three games for us this year. They will be key in the playoffs in determining how far we go. It’s going to be a long slog for 17 games first, though. One game at a time!

    Go Bucs! Shock and disappoint the home fans this week!