The Bucs entered the 2016 season with expectations outside the organization to beef up their pass rush. The team brought in defensive end Charles Johnson, were expected to be players in the Olivier Vernon sweepstakes, and several assumed they’d try to go after Mario Williams. None of that happened.
Tampa Bay did address the need in signing Giants’ defensive end Robert Ayers. While many feel the signing isn’t much of an upgrade, the experience from Ayers will be beneficial to the team. But just because there were no “A-Listers” signed, the pass rush can still be successful in 2016.
Last season, former head coach Lovie Smith constantly talked about the need of rushing the passer and with that would come better play from the secondary — compensating for his incompetence of putting a good secondary together. This season, we are seeing a much different trend already especially with the acquisition of veteran cornerback Brent Grimes.
With Grimes added to the mix and the return of both Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks, their chances of stopping opposing receivers are a lot higher than last season’s rotations of different corners and sitting their No. 1 guys. Factor in what is expected to be a much more aggressive approach on defense from coordinator Mike Smith, what could be a “lack of a pass rush” could be forgotten thanks to the cornerbacks preventing receptions or forcing the quarterback to hold on to the ball longer.
The Buccaneers will have Gerald McCoy, Jacquies Smith and Clinton McDonald among others on the line learning a new scheme. But they could reap the benefits on what could be better cornerback play making the learning process a bit smoother.
Like last season, when everyone was freaking out about the offensive line for nothing, we could be seeing that with the defensive pass rush this season. It could very well end up being an overreaction.