Jul 09, 2006 -
In 2006, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense will shoot for 10/10 – an even decade of consecutive seasons in the NFL’s top 10 defensive rankings – and its greatest asset in that quest is continuity.
The Buccaneers have already achieved a top-10 ranking for an astounding nine straight years, beginning in 1997. Only one other team, Pittsburgh, has an active streak of even six such seasons heading into 2006. If Tampa Bay can make it 10 in a row, they’ll tie the post-merger mark set by the Dallas Cowboys from 1970-79.
Working greatly in its favor is the fact that, in effect, the entire starting defense from 2005 is returning in 2006, healthy and ready to reprise its role as the league’s number-one squad. The only projected new starter is Will Allen, at free safety, and even Allen opened eight games last season.
That means the top of the Bucs’ depth chart will be no great mystery when training camp starts at the end of this month. That does not mean there will be no intrigue on the defensive side of the ball during camp. Competition is a necessary part of the camp process, no matter how experienced or entrenched the starters appear to be. And even if the starting 11 emerges healthy and intact from the month of August, there are still numerous reserve and specialty jobs to be filled.