Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Def, Buccaneers
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2016 Outlook: Quality BackupLast updated on Jul-27-2016 by Shawn Childs
The Bucs finished second in the NFL in yards per carry (3.4), but they allowed 29.1 rushes per game which was 10.6 percent higher than the league average (26.3) due to game score. Tampa ranked 11th in rushing yards allowed (1606) with 12 TDs. Ball carriers only had four runs of 20 yards or longer (tied with the Seahawks for the league low).
Tampa Bay was about league average in passing yards allowed (3840 - 16th) with 31 TDs and 11 Ints. Their defense delivered 38 sacks.
DT Gerald McCoy produced 8.5 sacks and battled a shoulder issue that led to one missed game. Gerald underperformed as run defender while projecting as league average in his career. DT Clinton McDonald missed ten games in 2015 due to a pectoral issue. McDonald looks like a rotational player. He had 11 combined sacks in 2013 and 2014 with some struggles in run support. Clinton was a neutral player in his limited playing time last year. DE Robert Ayers was one of the better edge defenders in the league in 2015. He finished with 9.5 sacks while grading just above league average in run support. DE William Gholston played well against the run with minimal value in sacks (3).
LB Lavonte David struggled against the run with strength in both the pass rush and in coverage. In his career, David has been a very good player in run support. LB Daryl Smith had 120 or more tackles in each of the last three seasons, but his game did invite failure in all areas in 2015.LB Kwon Alexander started the first 12 games in his rookie season before being suspended for four games for failing a drug test. Kwon had three sacks while grading poorly in both run support and pass coverage. Alexander should only get better after playing his rookie season at age 20.
Both of their starting CBs (Brent Grimes and Alterraun Verner) have played well in their careers in pass coverage. Grimes was about a league average starting player in 2015 with his decline coming due to his age (33). Verner was downgraded down to a rotation player after struggling in coverage. Two years ago with the Titans, Alterraun had 23 defended passes leading to a high ranking in coverage. CB Jude Adjei-Barimah moved into the starting lineup late in the year, but he looked like a negative asset in coverage in his first season in the NFL. CB Josh Robinson will be in the mix as well to start after missing most of the 2015 season with the Vikings with a torn pectoral muscle. S Chris Conte finished as an asset in coverage and run support. S Bradley McDougald was one of the weaker players in the league for his position last year with risk in all areas.
The core of this defense played well defending the run last year and similar success should be expected in 2016 as long as the change in coaching staff doesn't change the defensive style of play. They added help in the draft on the defensive line plus a couple of outs at the cornerback position, which is an important part of this defense if Tampa wants to make a run at the playoffs. If the Bucs play from the lead and they make team's one dimensional, this defense should have growth in sacks with more upside in interceptions. In the Fantasy market, I view them as DST2 with matchup value.
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