Let's not kid ourselves.
If this Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, this 2012 version of coach Greg Schiano is going to have a fighting chance at a decent season, the defense HAS to be better than it was last year.
It HAS to be better.
That being said, it doesn't have to go far to be better. The dreadful 2011 Bucs were last in the NFL in sacks, and last in giving up rushing yards.
Maybe that's why Raheem Morris wasn't hired anywhere as a defensive coordinator, and why he's back to being a position coach with the Washington Redskins. Welcome Back Kotter, defensive secondary style.
Okay, we digress. Back to the 2012 Buccaneer defense.
There are some big problems already. The first is depth on the defensive line. Right now, there simply isn't any. Don't look for Schiano to play his starting d-line for more than a quarter. The one thing this team cannot afford is an injury to any starter, and Michael Bennett was already slowed in camp last week by concussion-like symptoms.
The backups aren't in the best of shape either. Amobi Okoye has been given days off due to his knee, which is recovering from surgery. Gary Gibson hasn't been out on the field this week. All we know is that he "tweaked something" and it's not good when we haven't seen a guy play and on top of that, he's not healthy.
The linebackers have had a pretty good camp so far. Lavonte David has been flying around out there, Quincy Black has looked good and now Mason Foster should have an idea of what he's doing. Yes, the linebackers look okay and there's some depth there.
What are your expectations from the defense?
The secondary? Things aren't so hot there either. Don't look for Aqib Talib to play Friday night. Once again, it's a hamstring and that's been an ongoing injury theme for him the past two seasons. This one is just a tweak. It doesn't appear serious, but Schiano doesn't want to take any chances. Eric Wright, the other starter, has had back spasms, but had a better week in camp the past few days.
That should open the door for Myron Lewis, who has had a nice camp so far and should get a lot of playing time against the Dolphins and you can judge his progress for yourself.
At safety, they've given Ronde Barber time off in camp. No need to push a body that has endured 15 seasons. Mark Barron is recovering from a minor toe injury, but they don't want to take any chances with him either. He will see some action against the Dolphins, but probably not alot.
Now add all this up and right now, well, there is plenty of room for doubt. If you like to doubt, this is your cup of tea.
If you believe the glass is half full, then you can hold on to the hope that Schiano's scheme will be a huge improvement over that of Morris. It's an aggressive scheme with less reads and more movement. He likes the blitz too.
What will it all look like against the Dolphins?
Hopefully not too bad.