The 2014 Buccaneers defense underperformed much to the disappointment of many within the organization and outside of the organization. Strides were made as the season came to a close however there was still a lot of room for improvement.
A low point last season was veteran cornerback Alterraun Verner -- who was acquired last offseason in hopes of an immediate impact on the team. Appearing on NFL Radio's “Opening Drive” with Ross Tucker and Booger McFarland, Verner revealed last season's defense was strictly building a foundation for the future.
“The difference this year is that execution will be picked up to another level,” Verner said. “[The coaching staff] built a basic foundation last year for us and now they are upping our load because we’re getting the basics down to try to add to our repertoire.”
What Verner says there makes sense. If you look at this offseason’s acquisitions -- George Johnson, Bruce Carter, etc. -- it seemed like the Buccaneers wanted to get guys in who already understood the basic concepts of their defense and weeded out those that did not even grasp the foundation -- Mason Foster, Michael Johnson.
Aside from the defense working strictly off a foundation with no creativity apparently, there were also some individual performances that were letdowns. Verner talked about how he looks to be better in 2015.
“[Last season] was no where close to my expectations for me personally,” Verner said when asked about how he felt with his 2014 performance. “I feel like I should’ve done a lot more. I was hampered by an injury, learning a new system, you can throw all those excuses in there but at the end of the day I was out there and what I put on tape isn’t exactly what I wanted. I’m looking forward to this year because I know it’s going to be a lot better.”
Individual performances will be key this year for the Bucs defense. But they have to come together and play collectively as a group to achieve the level of success they are looking for.
It appears to be heading in that direction.
“You can tell people are playing faster and are understanding the defense a lot more from where we were a year ago,” Verner said. “We’ve been really gelling together as a group. You can just tell it’s been different and you can see the improvement so far.”
That is certainly good news. Last season’s feel was more about learning new ways and Verner’s words of encouragement about how this offseason has gone so far is certainly a plus.
None of this will matter once the season kicks off but the optimism resonating throughout One Buc Place can change all of that.
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