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New York Giants Week 11 Opponent First Look: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense

Let's get to know who's on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.

Tampa Bay Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles' aggressive defense has seen better days. The injuries have taken a toll on the unit, and the defense is just ahead of the Giants in the NFL in points allowed (23.6 per game). The remaining personnel is star-studded, but the holes throughout the secondary have proven to be an issue for Tampa Bay.

Richard Sherman isn't close to the player he once was on the Legion of Boom. Yet, the lingering calf injury that prevented him from playing against Washington was a strike at the depth of a secondary unit that's without star cornerback Carlton Davis, the incredibly versatile Sean Murphy-Bunting, and depth special teams pieces like Rashard Robinson and Curtis Riley. (Sherman has been placed on injured reserve.)

Bowles' defense allowed the Washington Football Team to drive down the field on a 19-play, 80-yard drive concluded by Antonio Gibson's second rushing touchdown. That drive started with 10:50 left in the game and ended with 0:29 seconds. It was an insane effort by quarterback Taylor Heineke and Washington and just a poor showing from this defense that allowed four third-down conversions and a fourth-down touchdown that last time they saw the football field.

Tampa Bay allows the 22nd most passing yards in the league. They're a funnel defense with holes in the secondary, meaning they do an excellent job at shutting down the run. The hulking presence of Vita Vea, a 6'4" 347-pound man-mountain who was dinged up against Washington, makes establishing the run an issue for opposing offenses.

The Buccaneers only allow 78-yards on the ground per game, the second-best behind the New Orleans Saints. Vea's presence, along with players like Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and William Gholston, forms one of the best run-stopping defenses in recent memory. That is, of course, combined with Bowels' aggressive odd front that allows elite linebackers like Lavonte David and Devin White to roam free.

The front also has Shaq Barrett, who is one of the more underrated pass-rushers in the NFL. Barrett can bend the edge, set the edge as a run defender, and win with speed/counter moves. Barrett currently has 45 pressures on the season. That puts him at 5th in the NFL. According to PFF, he has six sacks.

The depth up front for the Buccaneers is great. At EDGE, they use rookie first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka's incredibly explosive and athletic ability to win one-one-ones opposite of Shaq Barrett. He has 15 pressures and three sacks on the year. Anthony Nelson is another EDGE who uses his length well. He doesn't play as much as Tryon-Shoyinka, but he's a solid role player for Bowles' front.

At defensive tackle behind the big three of Suh, Vea, and Gholston, Rakeem Nunez-Roches carves out a nice role. He's technically not a starter, but he plays enough snaps to be one. He's stout with good heavy hands he uses to disengage at the point of attack. Both Gholston and Nunez-Roches are good run defenders who execute what Bowels asks well.

White and David are both very athletic linebackers whose ability to pursue ball carriers is excellent. They're rangy and great against outside-zone rushing teams. They're also good in coverage and are the glue of the defense. White's very good and athletic, but his aggressiveness can be used against him. It's something to watch for if the Giants attempt to establish their counter-run play against linebackers who have over-pursued in the past.

Behind White and David is Mike Edwards, who is technically a safety but who plays in the box a fair amount and has aligned in the slot with all the injuries on the backend.

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He was a safety at the University of Kentucky that Tampa Bay selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He's the player who intercepted Matt Ryan twice in week two, returning one for a touchdown. Edwards played almost exclusively in the slot against Washington, so this is a solid segway into the secondary.

Edwards was forced into action as the slot defender on this defense without Murphy-Bunting, their typical versatile slot defender. He allowed three catches for 28-yards on three targets, one being an important catch by Adam Humphries on the long 19-play, 80-yard drive that ate the entire fourth quarter.

Jamel Dean is the number one cornerback at the moment. He, too, missed games earlier in the season, and he has been, in the past, the one who has been identified by opposing offensive coordinators to attack. He's susceptible to some grabby play, and his technique isn't consistent.

A 2018 UDFA out of Miami, Dee Delany, is now forced to start opposite Dean with all the injuries. Both of these cornerbacks shouldn't consistently win against Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and whoever else the Giants decide to roll out at wide receiver. However, as it is for many teams, the point of concern is how the offensive line can hold up against this pass rush?

Running the football will be difficult, so expect to see a lot of five-man protection packages to help the offensive line. Tampa Bay ranks 13th in the NFL with 22 sacks at the moment. Holding these pass rushers up so Daniel Jones can get rid of the football in the quick game will more than likely be one course of action for Jason Garrett.

The Giants wide receivers will be able to win at the line of scrimmage against this secondary. Pierre Desir and Ross Cockrell are also in the secondary. The latter makes plays every time I watch him on the field, while the former seems to be a bit over the hill at the moment.

The secondary is weak at cornerback, but the combination of Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead is skillful on Sundays. When Winfield Jr. isn't giving the peace sign to Tyreek Hill, he's typically taking good angles to the football and making his presence known with physicality.

Somehow, Whitehead is even more physical than Winfield Jr. Whitehead is one of the better safeties in the league in terms of delivering hard hits in the alley. He's one of the highest-graded run defending safeties in the league.

Jones will have to be quick with his eyes and release when attempting to manipulate Winfield Jr. on the backend of the defense. He's going to have his hands full against this Tampa Bay defense; can he recreate his opening day magic when he defeated Tampa Bay in their city back in Week 3 of 2019?

Time will tell. 


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