When Bruce Arians was hired following the firing of Dirk Koetter, most expected changes in the Bucs’ scheme. Arians soon hired Todd Bowles after he was fired as head coach of the Jets, and it was announced Bowles would be bringing a radical change to what Bucs fans have been used to seeing, and implementing a base 3-4 defense.
After Kwon Alexander signed a free agent deal with the 49ers, many wondered – and worried – how the Bucs could recover from the departure of the team’s starting middle linebacker.
Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Enter free agent Deone Bucannon from Arizona, who played for both Arians and Bowles, and while there is still some uneasiness from Bucs fans, Arians and general manager Jason Licht don’t seem worried at all.
“No, I mean everybody loves Kwon, I mean total respect in the league, but Deone’s played a lot of football, he’s won a lot of games,” Arians aid last Tuesday from the Arizona Biltmore. “He was a guy that didn’t have a position, I talked to Todd (Bowles) I said ‘look, he’s one of our best 11, get him out there somehow,’ and created that money linebacker position and he just took off. Then everybody started copying it, so he’s a passionate, powerful guy in a small body, he’s a stick of dynamite. So those four, if you told me that’s all I had, let’s roll.”
Licht was just as confident in his group of four starters as it stands right now and that moving to a 3-4 won’t be too difficult.
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
“I am real confident we will be able to transition,” Licht said last Monday meeting with the Tampa Bay media in Arizona. “Just working with Todd (Bowles) before and seeing how they aren’t round pegs, and he does put them in position to make plays. Now we still 70 percent(of the time) play(nickel defense), still four down lineman and two linebackers or you play dime and with one linebacker and an extra safety. In terms of a base we have JPP(Jason Pierre-Paul) and Carl(Nassib) and Lavonte(David) and now Deone(Bucannon), I’d say that’s a pretty group of starting linebackers. So I am not worried or concerned about that.”
The Bucs have the No. 5 overall pick in next month’s NFL Draft and there has been much speculation the Bucs would address the linebacker position there, with LSU’s Devin White being the top-rated linebacker coming out this year. While Arians and Licht could just be playing pre-draft poker with the media, both seemed genuine in their assessment of their current group that includes Kevin Minter who was re-signed and Jack Cichy coming off of ACL surgery, and they could roll into 2019 without making many more additions at the position.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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