TAMPA — A year after finishing the season ranked 29th in the league in total defense, including 32nd against the pass, the Bucs enter Sunday’s game against the Rams ranked 13th in total defense.
That’s a significant improvement. And in the eyes of Bucs coach Greg Schiano, the improvements have brought Tampa Bay to the brink of being one of the most dominant defenses in the league.
“We’re a couple pieces away from being a dominant defense,’’ Schiano said Thursday. “We have some good players here, some really good players, so we’ll just keep working at it.’’
The task of taking the defense to that dominant level might wind up in the hands of the Bucs’ coaches rather than their scouts. Some of the pieces they need to become dominant might already be in place, Schiano said.
““We have some young kids here who have the upside to be special,’’ he said. “Our whole philosophy is to draft and develop anyway, so that’s really what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to continue to do that.”
When pressed on the matter, Schiano wouldn’t say exactly what pieces the Bucs need to add or develop, but it’s clear he thinks a pass rushing lineman is one of them.
“I think you’re probably pretty much in tune to what it is,’’ Schiano said. “But again, I think it can be developed within as much as going outside and getting it. I think we have some really fine young prospects in our building right now and (DL) William Gholston is a prime example.
“Six weeks ago, you’re not thinking or talking about Will the way you are now. This is such an instant society, but sometimes you just have to develop them. So, if we can just keep developing these guys, I think, they’re going to continue to get better.’’