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.”
Regardless 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.”
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.
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