Three weeks are down in the preseason which just means the real games are that much closer. Over the offseason, we at Armchair Bucs have been breaking down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ roster. We went through the offense and now turn our attention to the defense.
First up, the most improved position on the team, the defensive line. The Bucs had one of the worst defensive fronts in the NFL last season. As a team, the Bucs only managed 22 sacks, a league-worst, and allowed 1,880 rushing yards, 23rd in the league. General manager Jason Licht made it a priority to improve in the trenches.
Current Defensive Ends: Noah Spence, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, William Gholston, Will Clark, Demone Harris, Kiante Anderson, Davonte Lambert,Patrick O’Connor, Evan Perrizo
Back in March, within a span of three days, the Bucs signed former Eagle Vinny Curry and made a trade with the Giants for Jason Pierre-Paul. The hope in bringing these pickups was not only their production on the field but also their Super Bowl-winning experience to a young Bucs locker room.
In his first year as a full-time starter with the Eagles, Curry picked up 42 total tackles and three sacks. He was primarily an inside rusher in Philadelphia but with Tampa will be used more on the outside.
JPP is a familiar name in the Tampa Bay area. He attended the University of South Florida before being drafted by the New York Giants in 2010. Over the course of his career, JPP has racked up 432 total tackles and 58.5 sacks while being named to the Pro Bowl twice and an All-Pro once. The Bucs are hoping to he can become the teams first double-digit sack getter since 2005.
#Bucs HC Dirk Koetter said he didn’t expect DE Jason Pierre-Paul to have as much of a motor as he does for practice. Says he’s been very impressed by that. pic.twitter.com/VReUqdghxR
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) August 15, 2018
The primary backups at defensive end should be very familiar with fans. William Gholston returns along with Will Clarke and Noah Spence. All eyes are on Spence though. The third-year end is looking for his breakout season after injuries have taken a toll on the early part of his career. But after adding 35 pounds of muscle, Spence is looking to add bulk to his speed while being able to play all season long.
Current Interior Defensive Line: Gerald McCoy, Vita Vea, Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein, Drew Iddings, Nathan Bazata, Jerel Worthy, Adam Reth
The biggest upgrade this offseason might have been along the interior of the defensive line. Longtime Buc Gerald McCoy is still here anchoring the middle like he’s done for the better part of eight seasons. However, his teammates next to him are a little different.
Gerald McCoy v. Ryan Jensen | Beau Allen v. Ali Marpet.
Licht signed another Eagle in Beau Allen and former Bear Mitch Unrein back in March as well. Allen has been a nice rotational piece for the Eagles, picking up 87 tackles and two sacks since being drafted in in 2014. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping, Allen is what the Bucs need in the interior. According to Pro Football Focus, Allen was sixth among defensive tackles with an 11.3 run stop percentage.
Unrein is another rotational piece for the Buccaneers that provides some valuable talent. Among 3-4 defensive ends, he finished fifth with a 10.8 run stop percentage according to PFF.
Despite the new signings, the Bucs’ future on the interior defensive line rests with first-round pick Vita Vea. The team is hoping Vea can come up big in both the run and passing games. At the University of Washington last season, he ranked third among draft-eligible interior linemen in pass-rush productivity (10.6) and fourth in run stop percentage (12.1). Vea has yet to play in the preseason but is he’s healthy to start the year, opposing offenses are going to have a hard time with him and McCoy.