Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach, Brentson Buckner, recently had a sit down with the team’s top defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to inform him that he would no longer be asked to single-handedly save the day for the team’s defensive line.
McCoy is 30 years old now and in the ninth year of a stellar NFL career which has included trips to the Pro Bowl the last six seasons. McCoy has led his team in sacks since the 2013 and is welcoming of what Buckner characterizes as a “group of super friends” that team has assembled to play with him.
Team General Manager Jason Licht, decided a complete rebuild of the defensive line, with McCoy remaining as the centerpiece, was in order after watching his team’s defense finish the 2017 season dead last for all NFL teams.
Beau Allen of the Philadelphia Eagles, along with Mitch Unreign and Vince Curry of the Chicago Bears was signed in free agency to join the Buccaneers defensive line. But the biggest splash was made when Licht was able to trade away a third-round draft pick to secure the services of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Licht then used the team’s first-round draft pick to select defensive tackle Vita Vea.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith has been quite forthcoming in his assessment of how dismal the performance of his defense was a year ago. Smith says the play of his defense “must be better” and “more consistent.”
The Bucs defense finished last among the 32 team league in quarterback sacks and the team knows that good defense starts with controlling the line of scrimmage. The need to pressure the quarterback takes on an added importance for the Bucs who play in a division that includes top quarterbacks Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan.
The lack of pressure applied to quarterbacks a year ago resulted in the Buccaneers secondary being scorched for the most passing yardage in the National Football League at 4,169.
Buckner states that his philosophy is that a defensive back is never responsible for a long passing play by another team. This, he says, is because the defensive line is closest to the opposing quarterback and has the opportunity to make a play long before the other team’s receiver can complete a long route.