Bucs hope for another defensive turnaround

by Gary Shelton on August 15, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Koetter hopes for defensive improvement./CARMEN MANDATO

Koetter hopes for defensive improvement./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

The familiar face moved easily around the football field.
Once, when he was. younger, he was in charge around here of the finest turnaround in Bucs' history. In those days, Tony Dungy was an anchor, a beacon of consistency on a wayward franchise.

Now, he moves around the fields once more.

Now, Dirk Koetter needs to retrace his steps.

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Once, in Dungy's first season, the Bucs' defense grew up. In 1995, it was 27th in the NFL, giving up 357 yards a game. In Dungy's first season, however, the Bucs were the 11th best team in the league, and they gave up half a football field (actually, 57 yards) fewer per game. They went from 25 sacks a game up 35.

The Bucs won only six games in Dungy's first season (losing eight of the first nine), but they were on their way. For the next nine years, the Bucs were in the top 10 in defense. Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp are already in the Hall of Fame (with Dungy), and John Lynch and Ronde Barber have been in the discussions.

This year, the Bucs need another such leap in the statistics. Last year, they were 32nd in the NFL in yardage allowed.

This year? We'll see.

It would take a monumental change for the Bucs to get into the top half of the defensive standings. There are so many moving parts -- veterans Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein and rookies Vita Vea, M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead -- to have to come together. Still, it would give the Bucs a chance at significant improvement.

The Bucs will practice twice against the Tennessee Titans this week in an effort to sharpen their defense.

“Well, we’ve worked with Jacksonville the last two games and since there is construction at our stadium, since we’re playing Jacksonville week four, that just wasn’t conducive," Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said. "We wanted somewhere that was relatively close. We wanted it in week two, so that means we had to be the road team. We played the Dolphins week one. They were willing to do it, but we really didn’t want to do it week one. Of course, Jason (Licht’s) relationship with Jon Robinson. We actually had it worked out before the coaching change was made and they honored it. We’re looking forward to going up there and working with them.”

What is there to gain?

“Good work against different schemes and different players," Koetter said. "There’s always for the coaches and the players – you don’t have the script. When I have my daily script, I have what both sides of the ball are doing, but when we go to Tennessee I only know what one side is doing. So, that’s how you have to adjust. That’s how it is in real life.”

The Bucs play the Titans at 8 p.m. on Saturday.


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