I've written recently that the defense for the Bucs has underachieved through five games this year. That's far from an earth shattering statement. Teams are converting 48% of the time on third downs. Teams are also completing 70% of their passes which is second worst in the NFL.
Injuries on the defensive side have certainly prevented this unit from being impactful. Michael Johnson may never be completely healthy this year. Alterraun Verner had issues with his hamstring in training camp and is just now rounding into form. Gerald McCoy is playing with one hand. Mason Foster has a shoulder injury. Who would have thought Foster would be missed the most with they way tight ends have been roaming free down the middle of the field on this Bucs defense?
After losing to the Saints this past Sunday, the team might be getting some good news. Lavonte David was impactful. He wasn't just average or pretty good or even great. David was everywhere on the field. Maybe no play illustrated that more than on the Saints first possession of the fourth quarter. Drew Brees hit Marques Colston with a short pass to the left sidelines. David tracked him down, delivered a vicious hit, and held Colston to a 6 yard gain. It was the type of play that you come to expect from David. Against the Saints, David had 14 total tackles, 10 solo.
When Lovie Smith talks about his defense forcing turnovers, David needs to be the catalyst. Forcing fumbles, intercepting passes, making impact hits are all part of his arsenal. If David plays the rest of the year like he did against the Saints, the Bucs have a chance to be a really good defense.
Baltimore may not pose the same threats on offense that the Saints did this week. However, the Ravens have some weapons on offense that can hurt any defense. As David said on Tuesday, they expect the Ravens to be a threat.
“They have some great young backs there in [Justin] Forsett and you also have [Joe] Flacco at the helm playing quarterback and he’s always a threat with some weapons on the outside and some great tight ends. They’re going to produce a threat for us, but it’s all about us and all about what we do and how we execute.”
The Ravens are missing a couple of key pieces on offense. Tight end Dennis Pitta is out for the season with a hip injury and left tackle Eugene Monroe is out at least a month with a knee injury. The Bucs defense should be able to hold their own against that unit and even force some turnovers. With David coming off his best game of the year, that shouldn't be a problem.
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