Nothing new for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Another week, another loss, another abysmal defensive performance, when will it end?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered another crushing loss last week. This time it came against a bad Atlanta team. The Bucs scored first, but the momentum seemed to be lost immediately when Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra point. The Falcons answered quickly and the Bucs would never regain the lead. The Bucs tightened things up in the second half, but came about eight yards short from a miracle finish. This game had some pretty serious ramifications and it will be interesting to see how things play out from here.
The Mike Smith era in Tampa has ended.
Against Atlanta, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense was largely invisible in the first half. Allowing 24 points in the half, the team found itself in a pretty deep hole early on. To give credit where it’s due, the defense turned in a much better performance in the second half. Giving up only 10 points, the Buccaneers made a game of it late but the hole was just too deep to climb out of. Monday morning Mike Smith was fired. This was not a result of one game. Other than a five game stretch in 2016 his defense has continuously underachieved. The new man at the helm is linebackers coach Mark Duffner, what should we expect?
If I were you I wouldn’t have very lofty expectations for the defense under Duffner.
It’s no secret to anyone that knows me, I was ready to see Mike Smith go. By all accounts he’s a great guy and you never want to see anyone fired, but football is a results based business. However, don’t expect to see a return of the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense under Duffner. This is not Mark Duffner’s first stint as a defensive coordinator. Duffner ran the defense for the Cincinnati Bengals for both the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Over that time his defense was less than impressive, culminating in a ranking of 32nd after the 2002 season. All that aside, a change can’t hurt. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on pace to make history for points allowed, why not make a move?
As Belichick would say, on to Cleveland.
This week Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns come to town. What should we expect from the revamped defense? While it’s too early to know if any significant changes will be made, what must improve, is the play of the defensive line. After five games the play of the defensive line has been lackluster, at best. A lot of resources were spent upgrading the line this offseason and with the exception of JPP, we haven’t really seen any improvement. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers expect to beat the Browns this week, the defensive line needs to play better.
The Buccaneers have the 3rd ranked rush defense in the NFL.
Is that ranking a result of a truly good rush defense? Could it be the result of the pass defense being so bad that nobody feels the need to run the ball against them? The Buccaneers have faced the 7th fewest rushing attempts in the NFL this season. The sample size is too small to get a true picture of how good the run stopping of this team is. We will most likely have a more accurate idea after this week. The Browns bring the 4th best running attack in the league to Tampa this week. Baker Mayfield may be a rookie, but this job will be much easier if Cleveland is able to run the ball effectively.
Is this the week we see the impact of Vita Vea?
With a banged up Gerald McCoy, we can expect more playing time for Vita Vea. Vea’s impact could be huge against a run first team like the Browns. It will be up to the defensive line to stop the Brown’s run game and force them into obvious passing situations. We know the Tampa Bay secondary is weak at best. If forced into obvious passing situations the defensive line will need to make Baker Mayfield uncomfortable. JPP has been spectacular, but he can’t do it all himself. Vinny Curry and the other pass rushers on this team need to step up. Flustering Mayfield and making him uncomfortable in the pocket is the best case scenario for this Buccaneers secondary. The defensive line needs to take over this game from the first snap. It’s been proven time and gain that this secondary can’t stop anybody. Unless the defensive line is able to stop the run and get consistent pressure on the QB, I have no doubt that Baker Mayfield will look like the second coming of John Elway against this secondary.