When your defense Is the worst in the NFL at giving up 29 points a game, and your offensIve line is rated the worst at run blocking in the league there is only one place to go and that is up.
The defense has the biggest opportunity to improve on their 2018 performance. The second half of the season under defensive coordinator Mark Duffner, the defensive line and the defense as a unit played much better but still wasn’t good enough to be counted on in those spots where you need the defense to make a play.
That’s why in the upcoming draft, the Bucs should go all in and focus on improving the defense.
Let’s be fair. Injuries were a factor. The linebackers were decimated by injuries as Kendall Beckwith never got on the field and Kwon Alexander was lost at the end of October to a season ending injury.
Lavonte David also missed time with an injury. It will be counter productive for the Bucs to go free agent shopping before signing Kwon Alexander to a new contract.
The word from One Bucs Place is they have offered Alexander a long term contract, but the terms are not what Alexander is looking for and it is looking as if the Bucs will let Alexander test the free agent market. The Bucs front office is hoping that any offers that Alexander gathers will be given a chance to be matched by the Buccaneers.
The defensive backfield was in shambles all of 2018 as they did a terrible job of covering the opposing receivers. Brent Grimes was in a funk all season because he felt he was asked to do too much for what he was getting paid.
Vernon Hargreaves was put on IR early in the season and the Bucs three rookie defensive backs Carlton Davis, MJ Stewart, and Jordan Whitehead got a lot of playing time. The Bucs invested heavily in the defensive backfield in the 2018 draft so I wouldn’t look for them to make a big splash in free agency In this area.
The Bucs did pick up Andrew Adams mid season and he had four picks the to lead the team, but Licht chose not to resign home making him a free agent.
Plus Landon Collins, Tyrann Matthieu, and Ronald Darby and the other marquee defensive players that are free agents would not fit under the salary cap as the Bucs have very little wiggle room.
The big splash for the Bucs in free agency will be singing their own free agents like Linebacker Kwon Alexander and wide receiver Adam Humphries, not chasing the biggest names on the open market.
The draft should be focused heavily on the defensive side of the ball. This is shaping up to be the best draft for defensive players in a long time and the Bucs need to take advantage of that draft depth.
There is also a need for some solid depth on the offensive line, but this offense was the best offense in Bucs history even with the poor play of the offensive line.
The bottom line, Jason Licht has to have a good draft And good off-season. There cannot be any Roberto Aguayo’s as this is shaping up to be one of the most important off-seasons in a long time.