Warren Sapp: Bucs’ defensive play upfront will be key

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On a conference call with media on Thursday, former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp was asked about his old team, the Buccaneers, with whom he spent the prime years of a career that earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.

Sapp, while noting he would be present when the Bucs open training camp next Thursday, had this to say about the Buccaneers’ efforts to improve their defensive backfield in the offseason with the additions of cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson:

“I’ve seen a lot of great defenses in the NFL. I just haven’t seen one led from the back end.”

A few thoughts on Sapp’s comment (alas, there was no further discussion of the issue on the call): First, Sapp was a defensive lineman; of course he’s going to insist front seven play is key, especially in a 4-3 scheme like the one the Bucs employ now and as they did in their prime years. And Sapp, of course, is right about the importance of the play upfront.

“Whenever you’re running a 4-3 scheme, when you’re sending the front four and dropping seven, that front dictates how much time the quarterback has, how disruptive in the run game it’s going to be and the different things that have to be done,” Sapp also said Thursday, this in response to a question about the scheme his former Tampa coordinator, Monte Kiffin, will now run in Dallas.

And here’s the good news for Tampa Bay: the Buccaneers’ front seven play shapes up as a strength in 2013. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy made the Pro Bowl a season ago. Ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers have shown promise. So too has second-year weak-side linebacker Lavonte David, who racked up 139 tackles as a rookie.

It’s quite possible the Bucs’ front seven could lead the way for the Bucs’ defense this season. And this is much is certain: the Buccaneers had to improve a secondary that allowed more passing yards per game than any other in 2012.

In short, the Buccaneers made the necessary offseason improvements, and Sapp made a valid observation about winning defense. It will be interesting to see what he says about the Bucs’ defense after observing camp next week.

26 responses to “Warren Sapp: Bucs’ defensive play upfront will be key

  1. I think it was on Pro Football Focus I saw this, but the Bucs D-Line last year had less than 3 seconds from the snap of the ball before coverage in the secondary broke down and the pass was out. You cannot generate much pass rush when you don’t have any time. The improvements in the secondary will give the defensive line that little bit of extra time they need to get more pressure.

  2. “First, Sapp was a defensive lineman; of course he’s going to insist front seven play is key.”

    Be that as it may.. He is absolutely spot-on.

  3. The Buccaneers will be much better than people think (#24 in PFT Power Rankings). What other team in the NFL will have 4 Pro-Bowlers playing that either weren’t on the team or were injured? Nicks, Joseph, Goldson & Revis. Clayborn was looking like an above avg. DE as well before he got hurt, and the sky is the limit for Bowers. Assuming these guys can stay healthy the Bucs should have no problem exceeding expectations.

  4. I’d defiantly listen to what Warren Sapp has to say about football. I defiantly wouldn’t listen to his financial advice.

  5. jetslakersfan,

    The difference is the Bucs didn’t try and bring in 12 outside free agents in one shot. They’ve still drafted well and filled the holes they weren’t able to by drafting via free agency. Totally different strategies.

  6. tampamac

    That is true, but u guys are putting a lot on a player coming off a ACL tear and I don’t think he going to push himself to hard the first half of the NFL season. Because Revis is all about the money. I’m one of those guys who thinks a player should get all the money he can. I’m still a big Revis fan and I hope he can get back to the old Revis. Imo I think Goldston is overrated because his job was easy playing with 9ers and the way they can get after QB.

  7. I’m definitely not a Buc’s fan, but Warren is 100% correct. 4+3=7, so does 3+4. Up front is where the game is decided, defensively as well as offensively. Simple really. Grand-Ma can run the ball if you block for her.

  8. It’s a team game. If the DL can’t pressure the QB the DBs look bad. If the DBs can’t cover the receivers the DL looks bad. And if neither can do their jobs then you get what the Bucs had last year.

  9. why are people giving thumbs down to statements about how much sapp sucks? he is garbage at all levels and should be fired from the NFL network because he is an epic joke to society. get that bumbling moron off TV forever please

  10. Nice observation Mr. Obvious! Too bad you weren’t more observant about your finances!

  11. Warren Sapp was a defensive force at one brief point in time. Now he is an over paid and unqualified commentator that has no logical reason what so ever, great hire NFL network.

  12. A side note to what Warren Sapp has to say about the defense. And that is, the offense (especially meaning Freeman) has to play well enough to give the defense some rest. The defense can’t be on the field most of the time. Freeman can’t throw interceptions and keep putting the defense back on the field.

  13. Warren Sapp is stepping up to replace Emmitt Smith.

    Just because you understood an on field scheme and had talent to execute it does not mean you are capable of a media explanation of the game in general.

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