Defense Wasn’t A Problem But Could Be Shortly

January 27th, 2023

The challenge on defense.

Big picture, Joe thinks Bucs coach Todd Bowles did a solid job with the defense.

Factoring all the injuries in the secondary this season and remembering how Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett was lost in October with a blown Achilles, it’s hard to be upset with the defense overall.

If the Bucs could have only scored more than 18 points a game, they likely would have won two or three more games.

Mike Jones of The Athletic suggests the defense was a Bucs problem when he looked ahead to see what may be in store for Tampa Bay in 2023.

A [Tom] Brady departure will trigger a series of moves and a roster rebuild. Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht would have to pull off a series of moves to upgrade a defense that rapidly declined…

Joe doesn’t think the defense “rapidly declined.” On the contrary, the defense held its own rather nicely given its problems.

However, that could change big time next fall. The Bucs are in a salary cap pinch and have a bunch of  pending defensive free agents including Lavonte David and Jamel Dean.

And as much as this pains Joe, Joe must be real: Joe doesn’t expect much if anything from Shaq next season. An Achilles injury for a guy turning 30 is nasty. It ended Earnest Graham’s career and although he isn’t 30, former tight end O.J. Howard wasn’t remotely the same after his Achilles tear.

If the Bucs are to have a playoff-caliber defense in 2023, both Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht and Bowles are going to have to work some magic.

56 Responses to “Defense Wasn’t A Problem But Could Be Shortly”

  1. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Agree about Shaq, and think we need some real pass rushers on this team, especially after our failure against Dallas to get any pressure.

  2. YucsBall Says:

    We need an enforcer on the Dline ….

  3. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Agreed, on the regular season…The Bucs defense was terrible against Dallas in the playoffs, though, when (of course) we wanted them to rise to the occasion.

  4. Go Bucs Go Says:

    Sorry. I hate the narrative that defense was the strength of this team saying that only offense could’ve scored 18 points at times.

    Heck, how about limiting the weak and incompetent opponent’s offense within 10 points? How come you don’t question that? Saints, Falcons and Panthers managed to limit weak offenses within much lower than 17 points.

    All in all, defense WAS A PROBLEM, given the pathetic level of competition they faced all year. Oh yeah, they were blown out by the likes of 49ers, Chiefs, Bengals and Cowboys, too. Go and look up how Falcons and Saints’ defense fared against 49ers.

    Go Bucs!

  5. Hodad Says:

    Agree to disagree Joe. I think the Bucs D took a step back this year. Wasn’t as bad as the offense, but we got ripped by some bad teams, and no name QB’s. I think Bowles should be looking for a new DC, as much as they’re looking for a new OC. Bowles isn’t a good enough HC, or DC to do both. If he wants to stay a HC, he’d be wise to pick a new DC also.

  6. stpetebucfan Says:

    I agree with D.R. and Joe that the D will require some smart drafting and judicious choices on who goes. LVD is the hardest IMHO. He has been a TRUE Buc through the worst and best of times. He still plays at a very high level but like Brady and other old dudes on the Bucs Father Time is knocking at the door and those knocks are getting louder! I’m ambivalent about LVD. I believe in loyalty. If there is anyway he’ll play for a salary the Bucs can afford I hope they can keep him.

    Jamel Dean is talented, be a big loss, but he’s very inconsistent and has trouble with that important ability..”availABILITY” and that dates back to his college days. Between his sometimes inconsistent play and questionable durability he’s probably too expensive for a gamble by the Bucs.

    So…hire Baker Mayfield on a “prove it” deal. With the right OC and the right team has already proven he can be successful. Never underestimate what a feat it was for him to get the freaking “Brownies” to the playoffs and a first round win over the hated Steelers…hated by Browns fans anyway.

    Then don’t just rebuild for the future…reload for NOW.

    The Bucs have moved around a lot in the draft under Licht. While posters bemoan the cap hell the Bucs are in good shape for the draft. Admittedly 19th is not going to get a great QB but it’s the end result of Licht’s moves have the Buccaneers in possession of their own picks in the first, second, third, fifth and sixth rounds, an extra sixth-rounder from the Colts and a seventh-round choice from the Jets. Tampa Bay could also be in line for one compensatory pick when the NFL awards those in February.

    That’s enough draft picks to find another OL, LB if LVD is gone, more DB’s.

    Bottom line…The sky hasn’t fallen just because Brady, LVD and a couple of others are getting long in tooth.

  7. SB~LV Says:

    As much as I pains me
    It is time to debrid this wound before the gangrene sets in.
    Aggressively trade any player that teams are offering market price.
    Accumulating draft picks this year and the next two years.
    We don’t even have a quarterback!
    Wake up from your delusional dreams G’Boyz !

  8. Common sense is not common Says:

    The defense has some culpability in the losses. Lack of turnovers directly affects PPG. How many games did we go without a turnover? Pass rush was horrible. Tackling was horrible with the exception of LVD, Vea and Hicks at times. The rest hit or miss. Gholston also was solid as usual. Winfield and Ryan are good tacklers that got sidetracked by injuries. A lot of work to do on both sides of the ball.

  9. ClwJB Says:

    Beg to differ, the D was crazy inconsistent, went months without a turnover and when it counted most, they wilted against the cowgirls

    Sitting your best cover corner while watching SMB get roasted all game was another prize decision by Bum Bowles

    Like a fake punt when ahead

    Or bypass 4th in short in plus territory but go for it inside your own 40

    Just a couple of the dozens of examples this year

    The issue is the decision making by the HC is so foul

  10. Ben Harvey Says:

    Pass rush wins championships!

  11. AKicknTheBucNuts Says:

    To be fair: O.J. Howard wasn’t remotely the same BEFORE his Achilles tear.

  12. bucsbrady Says:

    Defense was a huge problem. It thats the stance BUCS coaches and organization are saying then BRADY should tell good luck with out me. Brady being on the Bucs brings 5 prime time games. Constant media coverage. NFL network assign Sara Walsh to strictly cover the Bucs. JOEBUCS FAN beneifits from Brady being back. Joe dont even pretend you had similair trafic as the jameis days
    Joe never understands why folks are obsessed with trying to understand JoeBucsFan business? Actually, Joe’s traffic is far less reliant on star power of players and national buzz than people think. Joe cannot speak to the pandemic and how that changed sports interest on the Internet. So that year-plus was very different everywhere but more than fine around here thanks to Brady and a Super Bowl run. …Love and interest in the Bucs is not tied to Brady like you think it is. Keep in mind NFL teams are wildly successful and there’s only one Brady. There aren’t more readers here because the Bucs play a prime time game or ESPN puts a Bucs conversation on SportsCenter.–Joe

    As a Brady fan I dont if I want him to leave. Bucs treated Brady like a king. The only thing that scares me is how bad on offense they looked last year

  13. CM Says:

    “Joe thinks Bucs coach Todd Bowles did a solid job with the defense.”

    The D sucked this year. They can’t tackle and can’t stop teams from converting on 3rd downs (especially on 3rd and long). Hope this team cleans house and acquires some defensive players who can get the job done.

  14. Ben Harvey Says:

    It still pains me that they didnt make any move for a vet like Robert Quinn who was playing well and could have helped. They cant rely on rookies next year to be the difference. They will need to bring in a proven guy like they did with JPP years ago which kicked started the build on this line.

  15. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If Brady leaves, it’s time to rebuild…..Brady will still cost us near $60 mil of cap over the next 2 years.
    Being aggressive in finding a quality QB will cost even more….our SB window has likely already closed.
    Get younger……Brady, Brate, Jones, Rudolph, Bernard, LVD, Hicks, Ryan & Succop leaving would certainly accomplish that.

    We don’t have many tradeable players…..Evans, Godwin, Wirfs, White, Vea, Davis , Winfield……who wants to let them go…..

  16. SlyPirate Says:

    CDIII – A
    Dean – B
    Winfield – A
    White – C (looked lost all year)
    VEA – A
    JTS – D
    Hall – F



    Mostly/All FA. Can’t rely on those guys for 17 games.

    -Resign Dean. Solid young DB group
    -Resign LVD. Otherwise LB is a big weakness
    -Draft 2xDL
    -Resign vets as key rotational guys

  17. Bobby M. Says:

    Shaq is now grossly overpaid for a 30 yr old finesse pass rusher recovering from an Achilles injury. IMO….he’s not nearly as effective as he was with JPP and Suh both commanding attention. Davis is another overpaid player….he’s a solid #2 but he’s not remotely close to a #1 which is what he got paid like. For what we pay Vea he takes too many breaks during the game to remain effective. We overpaid in draft capital for tryon and white. Both run around lost if they’re not rushing the passer.

    We lose Tom Brady and you’ll see the quality of our roster that Licht built. It’s overpaid mediocrity.

  18. Bucnjim Says:

    The thing that very few people take into consideration is the fact that our defense consistently gave up sustained drives time after time against every opponent this year. Why is this important? Field position! Very few times this year did we start with a positive field position. Hard to succeed when you’re backed up on your own 20 yard line

  19. JJuice32 Says:

    Have any defensive players improved under Todd? Todd is not a great D coordinator, he is avg. at best. Did anybody watch how innovative Cincy’s D was against the Bills? Innovative is not in Todd’s vocabulary same crap every week. Dallas knew what was coming and picked us apart.
    Back ups to back ups beating us. Remember 1 out of 6 winning seasons as head coach. You want a surgeon operating on you with that winning percentage?

  20. miken Says:

    I thought the d was a problem. 23 vs. the pass…. thats a problem. We faced bad qbs and they beat us. It won’t be Purdy, pj walker, mariota, and dalton next year

  21. Mikejp Says:

    When you ask the offense to sacrifice its most effective plays for your benefit, you are not good enough.

  22. One trick pony Says:

    Sure missed Suh and JPP this past year. Need a big nasty and enforcer.

  23. John Says:

    They gave up over 29ppg when they faced a top QB or play caller………

  24. Bucsfan13 Says:

    The defense only played well against bad QBs

  25. Show Me the TDs Says:

    Devin White was trash. I don’t care if he makes the Pro Bowl playing for someone else next year. The most painful part of watching the games this year was seeing his strolling around the field, running up to touch the pile, lack of effort.

  26. Beej Says:

    I am afraid they are going to have to let Dean and SMB walk, try to get to the normal NFL norm of having 1/3 of your roster on rookie contracts

  27. Oneilbuc Says:

    Defense held teams under 20 points most every game but 2 the offense only scored over 20 points twice the whole year. Offense was the problem with the bucs this year. And Brady was the main problem with him throwing balls in the dirt. Brady is done he don’t want to even take a chance of getting hit so he didn’t let plays developed so he would dump off to a running back. It’s time to move on from Brady at 46 he’s only going to be worse.

  28. jugheadfla Says:

    really Joe? The defense wasn’t a problem? Did you see the last game? They couldn’t even get lined up properly half of the time let alone defend any one. This wasn’t week 1 it was the playoffs and Bowels’s defense still doesn’t understand the scheme. I mean seriously, how many times does a coach have to admit he was out coached and keep his job in the NFL? Go back and listen to his post game pressers for each week and listen how many times he says this! Other HC’s were fired for far less this season.

  29. D-Rok Says:

    The defense was good in spurts, and terrible in spurts = mediocrity.

    They were very inconsistent. Were they better than the offense? Yes, but that’s not saying much.

    Much work to do in all 3 phases for this team.

    Except our punter. He’s a rockstar.

  30. Goatfarmer Says:

    Against anyone good, the Bucs defense sucked out loud. SF, KC, Cowboys playoff game all handed the softies their confused arses with ribbons. Carolina PJ Walker abused the Bucs and Sam Darnold had a career game. If not for Wilkes being ultra conservative, they win that game.

    Toad the Fraud Blowes oversaw an overrated defense that was mediocre against the run but at least couldn’t play zone or man to man in pass defense. Thank God for the offense.

    Oh, wait.

  31. Craig Says:

    I saw a lot more bad than good. After Shaq got hurt, the avalanche started and landed near the end of the season.

    The Bucs made teams that can’t run like like they could and made rookie QBs look pro bowl ready. How can you say that wasn’t bad?

  32. HC Grover Says:

    I do not think there is any chance at all that Bowles will field a decent team this year that can even with the NFC South. I think Brady is already long gone. We are morphing in to Houston/Lovie Land. That is what it looks like from here. They will be worse than terrible regardless of what Bozo does. Discombobulated, disorganized, dazed, and confused. Oh well.

  33. Davenport Says:

    Band-aids will not help in 23. This team stinks from the HC down.

    Purge, by cut/trade, all the vets over 30, including the high-priced talent. Build for a Super Bowl contender in 2025/26. Pile up picks & clear cap space.

    Not a popular move, but what good will any of them be 4 years from now?

  34. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    So far as Shaq…why is it that people assume the worst? Medical technology and treatments improve every year. Just assuming that he will suffer long term is a bit premature in my book.

  35. BrianBucs Says:

    Bucs defense was good this year against the bad teams, but overall for the season was not great. Gave up way too many long, time consuming scoring drives and had trouble all year getting off the field on 3rd down.
    I know that they really did miss Shaq but at times this year they looked totally unprepared to play.
    And the playoff game against Dallas looked horrible for them.
    Some of Licht’s high defensive draft picks just aren’t working out yet.

  36. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    My stance on 2023:

    I prefer that we are all wrong about Bowles. I would be more than happy if he turns things around. He’s boring…he’s not motivating anyone…but wins are what it boils down to.

    The best thing for the Buccaneers is if Bowles goes on a winning spree.

    Rebuilding doesn’t have to happen. Retooling works. Sometimes. It’s not a long term solution, but neither is rebuilding when you think about it.

    So plug the holes. Don’t start over on the roster. Just make the current roster better…and that will satisfy me.

  37. Your Mom Says:

    What would have happened if BA hadn’t anointed Todd Bowles but instead anointed Leftwich….

    Bowles would have been defensive coordinator last year and been able to focus on it.
    Leftwich MIGHT be a good head coach, Bowles isn’t. Leftwich is not a good OC.

    Bill O’Brien might have been signed to succeed Leftwich as OC.

  38. NEfan Says:

    Oneilsuckyall, defense held team under 500 to 20 or less points. They let up 33+ to teams over 500. Smoke and mirrors. The D was NOT good, almost gave up Seattle, Atlanta game 1 and did give up Baltimore and Cincy, two games where Bucs had a comfortable lead. Blows was as bad as Leftnut.

  39. Buddhaboy19 Says:

    Why is Todd Bowles head in that picture so teeny compared to his giant body?

    Probably an angle or trick, but i t looks funny as hell.

  40. The Anomaly Says:

    Joe, how did they do against teams over .500


    This team is headed for a Titanic type implosion

    And there is NOTHING Licht or Bowels can do to stop it.


  41. Oxycondoms Says:

    Rams in playoffs last year, cowboys in playoffs this year. There has been a problem. 49ers handled dak

  42. NEfan Says:

    Over 60 points scored against the Bucs in the last two PO games. Offense scored 42. Blows ain’t so good!!

  43. NEfan Says:

    2021 511 points scored 355 against that’s giving up 21pts a game and scoring 30 pts a game

    2020 492 points scored 353 against that’s giving up 23 points a game and scoring 31 a game

    2022 313 points scored 358 against. Giving up 21 points a game scoring 18 per game.

    Since when is it ok to give up on average 21 points per game? Your asking a lot from your offense.

  44. Cobraboy Says:

    I thought the D was only semi-OK.

    Fact is in crunch time they often got schooled. Several rooks/3rd stringers curb stomped them.

    I don’t see them getting any better. I see them in a decline, especially with the cap situation.

    Some of you inmates are in denial of the REAL state of the Bucs, evidenced by the scraped-barrel-bottom candidates for OC.

    IMO, this team with a dead-man-walking HC is toxic for any established coaching career.

  45. mark2001 Says:

    Bonzai. You do know that you are asking a heck of a lot from a HC that did far less than expected with a pretty good team. You are expecting him to turn that around and do far better than we can expect with a weaker team. Sure. If we are all wrong about him, we might have a great year. But last I saw, that was about as likely as monkey’s flying out of his rear.

  46. mark2001 Says:

    Bonzai. You do know that you are asking a heck of a lot from a HC that did far less than expected with a pretty good team. You are expecting him to turn that around and do far better than we can expect with a weaker team. Sure. If we are all wrong about him, we might have a great year. I guess we can dream.

  47. Defense Rules Says:

    CM … ‘The D sucked this year. They can’t tackle and can’t stop teams from converting on 3rd downs (especially on 3rd and long). Hope this team cleans house and acquires some defensive players who can get the job done.’

    Actually I’m much more concerned about the defense going forward than I am about what’s in the rear view mirror, but you’re kinda skewing the facts a bit.

    o Bucs defense was rated very highly for the first half of the season (usually Top-5), but slipped considerably in the 2nd half of the season (to #13 overall allowing 358 points). Might’ve had something to do with injuries to guys like Shaq & several other key players? We ranked more highly in 2021 (#5) and allowed 353 points … a mere 5 points less. Defenses in the NFL were better this year it looks like.

    o Bucs defense allowed opponents to convert on 36.9% of their 3rd down opportunities in 2022. In 2021 we allowed a conversion rate of 38.5% (slightly HIGHER) and in 2020 it was 40.0% (HIGHER STILL). BTW, our defense ranked #6 in the NFL in terms of least 3rd down conversions allowed.

    o I wasn’t at all impressed with Bucs’ tackling in 2022. Or in 2021 or in 2020, etc (don’t like missed tackles IOW). In 2022 we supposedly missed on 68 tackles as a team, for a Missed Tackle Rate of 5.7%. In 2021 we as a team missed 120 tackles for a MTR of 10.3% (yuck). Even in our 2020 SB year, we missed 103 tackles for a 9.6% MTR. So believe it or not, we actually tackled BETTER last season.

    And CM, none of us have to worry about the Bucs ‘cleaning house’ on the defense. Over half of our 2022 defensive players (17 to be exact) are FAs. Only defensive starters from last season under contract for 2023 are Vea, Shaq, JTS, White, Davis, Winfield) … only half the defense. Despite our salary CAP debacle, we’ll probably bring back a few of the cheaper FAs, plus draft heavy on defense (we have no choice). And in spite of all the geniuses who insist on throwing Todd Bowles overboard for his HC performance, he’s still a very good DC and we desperately NEED that in 2023 to develop what’ll turn out to be a defense with a very high turnover of personnel. (He did an excellent job of that IMO in 2019 that set us up very nicely for 2020 & 2021).

    Mama used to caution against ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’. Never really knew what she meant, until this year on JBF. Be careful what you wish for, because you never know what’s behind Door #2. Now that Lovie’s unemployed, maybe they’ll bring him back as our DC. Or maybe we could talk Mike Smith into returning?

  48. mark2001 Says:

    Lovie will bring back the Tony Dungy glory days to the team. We need to hire him now. You just have to believe. Bowles and Lovie…Superman and Batman. I thought he was the wrong answer in 2013. Not then…not now.

  49. NEfan Says:

    DR points are what counts not resting for 3 seasons they’ve given up a min. of 21pts per game on average.

  50. NEfan Says:


  51. Wild Bill Says:

    Defense and offense effect each other. The Bucs offense was mediocre all season which put the defense under constant pressure. Frequent 3 and outs and lots of short drives meant the Bucs D was on the field too much. Injuries mattered also, Especially with the dbs. And JTS running out of position lost in space was comical. Speed is nice if it results in tackles. Not so nice when he got pushed wide so often. So the defense was not as dominant but they were good enough to keep the score close most of the time. A sorry ass offense averaging 18 points a game was the real problem. It wasn’t all on Brady, but he rarely looked sharp. Sad to watch compared to the previous two years.

  52. David Says:

    The DBs and linebackers are fine. The defense has the same issue as most defenses… if your edge rushers go down and don’t get pressure with a four-man front, it makes life extremely difficult. As usual, they need another one. Unless JTS is going to take a massive leap in your three and Shaq is healthy, it’s going to be a big issue.

  53. Old School Bucs Says:

    Bowles’ defense sucked this year and at tge end of last year. You can gash this D for big plays at critical moments. If Bowles wants to be head coach, hand the defense over to a defense coordinator a be the head coach.

  54. NEfan Says:

    David, what games are you watching? Since I’ve been following this team the secondary has sucked. This team canNOT get off the field on 3rd downs. White has gone from 2020 hero to zero. He is one if not the worst discipline player in the NFL. His techniques are horrible. If he wasn’t so strong and especially fast, he wouldn’t make a practice squad. Have you EVER seen him hit with his shoulder pads?

    So, the O in 2020 averages 30+ points a game. They scored so fast D got tired in a 60 min game?

    In 2021 it was injuries and the same O scored too quickly causing the D to get fatigued. The O averaged 31 pts/gm.

    2022 Injuris and the O didn’t score enough points so the D got tired. Ya see a pattern here? Conditioning!!!

    Bottom line a D cannot let up 21 to 23 points on average a game in 3 straight seasons. It’s amazing this team won anything.

    I will give the D credit for 1 great PO game against the Saints 2020 and 2020 SB even though there were quite a few variables in their favor against KC.

  55. Goatfarmer Says:

    Mike Smith had a very good defense in 2016, and it got him a fat contract to stay, wherein he promptly retired on the job, stole the Glazers’ money and screwed Koetter, his team and us fans. But there’s more. Teams figured out his scheme and then who the weak links were in it and exploited those.

    That’s all happening to the Toadster right now. His Bowelsmanship got lauded for his exotic blitzes. But not any more — because they don’t work any more, because he can’t teach his guys how not to telegraph what they’re going to do. He is horrible now and the league has his number.

    Of course you don’t want Lovie, Mikey Smith, Schiano or Raheehaw back.

    But I’d be calling Steve Wilks on speed dial right now.

  56. NEfan Says:

    Goat, agree but Bucs are too late, t hey are stuck with Blows and he ain’t giving up the D.