The Strength Of The Bucs

June 12th, 2023

Bucs CB Carlton Davis.

Generally, losing teams don’t have good defenses. That wasn’t the case with the Bucs.

Last year the Bucs finished 8-10, though the Bucs did win the division and make the playoffs before exiting quickly.

The Bucs didn’t have a dominant defense but it was good. Good enough to finish 13th in points per game allowed in the regular season.

And with much of the same defense returning, Matt Verderame of believes the strength of the Bucs lies in the defense, specifically the secondary.

Position of strength: Secondary

… Licht has spent significant money and draft capital in this arena, including on corners Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean. At safety, Tampa Bay has seen the free-agency departures of Mike Edwards and Jordan Whitehead in recent years, but Antoine Winfield Jr. remains one of the league’s best on the back end.

In a division fielding young, inexperienced quarterbacks in Carolina and Atlanta, the Buccaneers might be able to force turnovers and get short fields from them.

The Bucs could have one of the better secondaries in the league. Davis is one of the better corners in the game in coverage. Dean is nearing the level of Davis. Winfield is just a damn good safety.

And now that the Bucs have added underrated safety Ryan Neal, Tampa Bay might just have a shutdown secondary.

Man, if the Bucs could ever get a pass rush to go along with that secondary.

24 Responses to “The Strength Of The Bucs”

  1. westernbuc Says:

    Hence why we won’t be cutting Shaq.

  2. Buccos Says:

    We may get a pass rush this year. If a couple of guys take the next step and Shaq is still half of what he was, we may be alright

  3. AtlBuc Says:

    OOOOOOOOOOOweeeee! IF we can just stop the run, our defense will be freaking awesome. If we can get pressure on the QB….. our defense will be scary. I think we will have several players with between 4-8 sacks and end up top five in sacks with a top 5 defense. But it all hinges on stopping the run. Bring Gholston back!!!

  4. Bucs Go Bucs Says:

    Come on!
    Taking into account the strength (?) of pathetic opposing offenses & timely matches (starting QBs injured or star RB traded), the defense was awful. I’d go further by saying that Bucs offense faced far better defense than this defense did.

    Go Bucs.

  5. BoricuaBucfan Says:

    Need to bring Ghokston and apHicms back just to solidify the d line and they should come relatively cheap being both are still on the market at this point

  6. BoricuaBucfan Says:

    Gholston * Hicks**

  7. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    BoricuaBucfan Says:
    “Need to bring Ghokston and apHicms back…”

    Gholston & Suh

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    Gut feel is that opponents will try to run the ball down our throats big-time this year. If so, our Secondary could be making a LOT of tackles, not a good thing in their case.

    Agree with BoricuaBucFan that we need to bring back Gholston; we need more beef up-front & Will’s shown that he’s very good at run defense. Not sure about Hicks though, although I’d rather have him in there than Senat or O’Connor. Money’s obviously our big driver at this point.

  9. Fred McNeil Says:

    Neal seems like he should be a big help.

  10. dmatt Says:

    If Calijah Kancey is used right then this defense will be elite. It would be nice if the Bucs would hire Dwight Freeney to come in to coach Kancey up to specialize in the spin move. Freeney was a beast of a defensive end at only 6’1 268 lbs. I really think Kancey has a chip on his shoulder n when it’s all said n done, by season’s end, he’ll be a house hold name for the Bucs. If we can hit on 1 of the 4 front line defensive players drafted 2023, that would be a plus for our returning defensive players. I’m holding Dean n Davis to practice what they preach.

  11. Dooley Says:

    Carlton Davis – 93 targets 52 completions(55.9%) for 622 yards for 3 TDs and usually covers the oppositions best WR

    Jamel Dean- 65 targets 36 completions(55.4%) for 469 yards for 4 TDs


    They’re going to keep doing what most teams have been doing, using short drops and quick passes to to the middle of the formation to pick on our nickel back and throw in that soft spot over the heads of our LBs and right in front of our safeties, because they’re not going to just open up and starting gunning passes at Dean & Davis on the boundaries. We need McCollum to step it up in a major way and Neal to build on his ’22 season and be as close to omnipotent as his tape made him seem last year.

    We’ve come along way from the days of EJ Biggers & Myron Lewis lol

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Dooley … I agree with you about opponents ‘using short drops and quick passes to the middle’ of the formation, but that’ll all be set up by their running game. Look at what some of our opponents did to us last year in games where they ran the ball over 100 yds …

    o Chiefs … 189 yds rushing (loss)
    o Falcons (1st game) … 151 yds rushing (win)
    o Panthers (1st game) … 173 yds rushing (loss)
    o Ravens … 231 yds rushing (loss)
    o Browns … 189 yds rushing (loss)
    o 49ers … 209 yds rushing (loss)
    o Cardinals … 121 yds rushing (win in OT)
    o Falcons (2nd game) … 174 yds rushing (loss)
    o Cowboys (playoff) … 128 yds rushing (loss)

    Those are huge numbers of rushing yards to be giving up, and in all but 2 of those games our opponents handily controlled the clock (and the game). Bucs have decided to go very light up-front IMO (Hall, Kancey, etc), and gut feel is that we’ll have problems with the bigger, more aggressive OLines & teams that focus more on the run. Good chance that’ll drive us to using a lot more 4-man fronts.

  13. Infomeplease Says:

    You can have the best secondary in the conference, but if you play a soft zone and let the opposition offense dink and run 20 plus plays before getting them off the field you will have a season like last year!! Aggressive defenses make plays, takeaways, and short fields.IMO!

  14. Infomeplease Says:

    Defense Rules, you are absolutely correct about the need to stop the run! Last year the Bucs did a poor job of that!

  15. Dooley Says:


    Fair points, especially about the ball control aspect of it. Couple that with the fact we didn’t really put any pressure on opposing offenses via the scoreboard and it kind of kept opposing teams playbooks wide open. Why come out tossing the ball around if you just played a half of football against a team that averaged 8.2 ppg in the first half of games. We also blitzed noticeably less than we did the first 3 years of Bowles calling the D, which probably comes back to the same point about ball control and not putting teams in situations most teams try to pass out of. It’ll be interesting to see how the offense and defense compliment/deter one another in 2023.

  16. garro Says:

    13th is good now?
    I hate to say this but it was Bowles and his scheme that kept the defense from imploding last year. Lack a pass rush? Scheme a blitz. Can’t stop the run? Scheme a blitz, run a stunt or stack the box.
    If we can get a pass rush this year without having to scheme it we should be good to great defensively. And get way more INTs.

  17. Glass Half Full Guy Says:

    I agree that right now the secondary looks to be the strongest unit for the Bucs D simply because we know them already and what they bring. However, I really like the moves made on the line and with LBs. Gaines should be a nice (and huge) addition up front next to Vea to stop the run, the rookies have serious athleticism and some still-developing players like Hall and JTS will hopefully take big steps forward with some of the coaching additions.

    It’s going to be fun to watch the entire D come together with the new pieces. We do lack some “big man depth” on the line so Gholston would be nice if we could squeeze him and his salary in somehow. He was always steady and reliable.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    Dooley … Love your statement that ‘it kind of kept opposing teams playbooks wide open’. Any defense’s goal has to be to make opposing offenses 1-dimensional (SHOULD be much easier to defend). Unfortunately in over half our games we got run over, and without a high-octane offense to keep putting points on the board like you said … well, 8-9 may have been generous.

    Three off-season ‘hires’ have me excited at this point that collectively MIGHT make a huge difference in run defense. First, new OLB coach George Edwards. Given that his background is exclusively 4-3 defenses, I’m convinced that’s a tell (a lot more 4-man fronts?). Second, Greg Gaines. Not a big sack producer (10.5 in 4 years?), but great availability & seems to be tough-as-nails. Third, Ryan Neal. Our safety group has been decimated over the past couple of years with the loss of Whitehead, Edwards, Keanu Neal & Logan Ryan (plus Winfield missing 8 games in the last 2 years). Ryan Neal could very well end up being our greatest off-season addition.

  19. Dooley Says:

    I can agree with those 3 major moves, don’t think the Gaines addition has been talked about enough. If you start getting into his tape and watching how he works off the ball or can be as big as he is but can run QBs and some RBs down in the flat after forcing an RB cutback/QB that flushes the pocket.

    Coach Edwards, the more I’ve read up on him the more excited I am to see Nelly, JTS, Gill, and our young buc draftees get a chance to work over him. I also wanna see what if anything Edwards can get out of depth like Snowden/Rashard.

    I really, really like the Ryan Neal addition, but I’m also wondering how the depth at safety shakes out as it’s Nolan Turner and a bunch of rookie UDFAs behind our starters. Neal though, by himself plays under control but like his hair is on fire, and what I know from guys like that is there’s a multiplier if they can be focused as much in their preparation as they are with just being on-time in terms of knowing where to be/whom to cover. Love that he and Winfield on a whim can interchange between SS/FS just based on the call.

  20. Defense Rules Says:

    Dooley … ‘Love that he and Winfield on a whim can interchange between SS/FS just based on the call.’

    Did not know that. A ton of built-in deception right there. Could play big in not just the passing game, but also in run defense.

  21. Dooley Says:


    Yup, Ryan Neal kind of eluded to it in his introductory presser and if you feel like researching it Joe himself has wrote about the interchangeability of all of the secondary players. It’s hard to notice in game w/o a significant play being made because of it, but think of Jamel Deans’ INT in New Orleans last season. Winfield lined up the nickel, Edwards was parallel with David & White with Logan Ryan pre-snap looking like a single high safety. Iirc post-snap, Dean back pedals immediatly off the ball and sinks back to cover a deep third, saw Olave cross his face, stayed on top of his route down the field and made a play on the ball. Beautiful sequence, better execution from our players, but 100% a Todd Bowles innovation.

  22. Crickett Baker Says:

    DOOLEY !! It is “allude” to something–not “ELUDE”. I allude to a situation where a QB eludes a sack and passes the ball. This is my second suggestion for your word use.

  23. Dooley Says:

    Crickett, my bad man damn

  24. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    School House Rock!