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The Buccaneers 2015 offseason strategy was clear – continue to build offense through the draft, while using free agency to supplement the defense.

Tampa Bay used just one of their seven draft selections on a defensive player, taking LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander in the fourth round. And while many feel like they neglected that side of the ball this offseason –  especially considering that the unit ranked 25th in the league last year – their defensive coordinator says he trusts the overall approach.

“I’m sure (general manager) Jason (Licht) and coach (Lovie Smith) are talking about that,” said Leslie Frazier. “They have a plan. They have explained that plan to me and I’m on board with it.”

While the draft featured a heavy emphasis on offense, it was the opposite case during free agency. In March the Bucs signed four outside players (Bruce Carter, Henry Melton, Chris Conte and Sterling Moore) and traded for another (George Johnson), all of whom were defensive players.

The front office hardly stopped there, continuing to scan the waiver wire and signed safety D.J. Swearinger, as well as linebacker Khaseem Greene in an effort to, if nothing else, increase competition.

“Depth can be an issue in our league,” Frazier said. “You have to be able to develop some players. We are going to work hard with the waiver wire and some of the things we plan on doing to ensure that we have good depth, but also to create competition for the starting positions that we need on defense as well.”

NFL: DEC 28 Saints at BuccaneersRegardless of their free agent acquisitions, the Bucs are still putting a ton of faith into some unknown talent on defense.  From safety Bradley McDougald, to defensive end Jacquies Smith, while the organization is high on both players they’re still largely young and unproven.

But Frazier is confident that another year under their belt – along with all other back-end and front four players – will make a huge difference heading into next season.

“We know a little bit more about T.J. (Fatinikun), Jacquies (Smith), a little bit more about Larry English and Will Gholston as well,” Frazier said. “We are watching and looking forward to seeing them develop. They are still very young as I mentioned earlier. They only have so many games under their belt, but we expect those guys to get better and better and create problems for left tackles and right tackles as well

“The fact that (the secondary) have more experience – it will be their second season in our program, so it should be a chance for them to grow and develop…”We think we have (flexibility) now with Bradley McDougald along with adding a Chris Conte to the mix. We think Major (Wright) can do it as well. Now we have D.J. (Swearinger), Keith Tandy. We think we have some guys that are able and give us some flexibility on defense.”

 

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at: zshapiro12@gmail.com
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fredster
fredster
6 years ago

They started to play lot better towards end of seasonal at year , but So many question marks still. I think Banks and Verner will be good at CB, but will free agency fix the nickel? Other than Levonte David the LB position is a question to me. Will anyone be able to play MB better than Foster and be able to cover middle of field this year? Last year the middle was just a gaping hole that anyone could complete passes into. Will any of the our DE’s have a great year and approach double digit sacks? Will anyone… Read more »

Horse
Horse
6 years ago

If we can stay realistic; all of this has been for the better. Does this warrant us a lot more wins? doubtful, but it does make us more competitive. We finally have some decent back ups and it makes a big difference in obtaining a couple more wins. I’m happy is we can double or triple our wins. This is a learning year in how to come back from being behind and winning. I believe 2016 is when we become playoff competitive. Go Bucs!

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
6 years ago

Please don’t call them “youngry”….

1sparkybuc
1sparkybuc
6 years ago

I expect the Bucs to win the division title this season. They’re the most improved team at OC and at QB. The Saints, Fowlgoons, and Panthers were not that much superior last year. The whole NFCS stunk. JW would have won more games with the team we had last year. With a decent OC, he will make the Bucs competitive. No SB right away, but soon.

76Buc
76Buc
6 years ago

I don’t know about a SB sparky, but I agree that we are playoff competitive, especially in the NFCS. We could have won 7 games last year with just an OC. We are vastly improved on offense and the D has a lot of depth now… and they can now play cover 2.

plopes808
plopes808
6 years ago

It’s crazy to me that people count out Tampa taking the division. We are GREATLY improved on offense with the addition of Koetter alone. Add in the improved OL and our shiny new QB and we’re already pretty well off. Our D wasn’t bad last year for the amount of time they spent on the field due to poor offensive play. Familiarity with the scheme and some extra rest time will mean much better defensive play. I don’t believe the other teams in the division have improved as much as we have…Atlanta might be the next most improved but their… Read more »

scubog
scubog
6 years ago

Other than the two blow-out losses the team was fairly competitive on the defensive side and it improved as the season evolved. While our punting and return game were less than spectacular, the kicking was outstanding with our rookie PK. As we all know, it was the offense that was simply putrid primarily due to the missing O.C. and ghastly QB play behind a weak offensive line with less than adequate RB’s and invisible TE’s. We’ve now spent two drafts trying to raise the offensive to average. I know this much. It can’t be worse.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  scubog
6 years ago

scubog; well said. The question is how much can a Rookie QB and two Rookie OL can come together to make the difference; I hope a lot, but I am also prepared for many mistakes in the first half of the season. My expectations thinks 5-7 wins; reality for me is 4-6 wins. Either way I’ll be happy. Go Bucs!

Horse
Horse
6 years ago

I think we’re forgetting all other 31 teams feel they have improved too. Most of them have had better drafts than us in the last several years; We’re still playing catch up. This is truly is a year to be patience and not call for the heads of coaches. Just one more draft and this will be permanently turned around. Go Bucs!

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
Reply to  Horse
6 years ago

It’s not the coaches that need to be worried Horse…I’ll paraphrase ESPN here “the Bucs are taking a big gamble by going with this group of DEs. If it works out, they will have a very good defense and look like geniuses. If does not they will look fools because they could have easily upgraded in the offseason”. It is Licht who will be on his way out if this defense does not step-up and dominate some games – his decisions to go with the guys he has…let’s hope it works out.

macabee
macabee
6 years ago

OTAs start today! Finally we get to discuss something that resembles real football! Go Bucs!

fredster
fredster
6 years ago

4-6 wins is probably a realistic goal. They double or triple wins and are competitive in losses I would consider a step in the right direction. I learned long time ago about expectations. Anyone who thinks they are going to win the division is likely going to be very let down. Rookie QB, lot rookie OL, etc. This is a team in big time transition trying to find answers to a lot of questions and positions.

Pick6
Pick6
6 years ago

Time of Possession and field position were CONSTANTLY working against our defense, even on good days. they contributed to it themselves with some poor 3rd down play, but just going from “dumpster fire” to “mediocre” in terms of sustaining drives and protecting the footballQB would help the defense immensely.

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