TAMPA, Fla. - Two games in and the Bucs' defense is showing signs of potential greatness. Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are tied for second in the NFL in sacks and Devin White leads the entire league in tackles after posting a career-high 15 against the Panthers.
Suh has noticed an elevation in White's play.
"I think he's been playing at a high level since we started camp," said Suh. "Been in his playbook, very clearly, throughout the offseason and he's proving that when he gets on the football field."
Bucs guard Ali Marpet has been facing Todd Bowles' group at practice for two years. He sees first-hand the improvements the Bucs D has made from year one to year two.
"As a whole, this defense is swarming," said Ali Marpet. "They're all playing at a high level... So I think that's where the biggest difference is. I think that if they can continue to do that, they will be really tough. It's a good defense."
It didn't take rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. long to see how good this defense is.
"It's crazy to see," said Winfield Jr. "I feel that's the biggest difference from the college level to the professional level, everybody is good. 'Cause they're dogs. They're always all over the field making plays."
Opponents are having to pick their poison with the Bucs' defense.
With two Pro Bowl pass rushers on the outside, in Shaq Barrett and JPP, the Panthers elected to double their protection on the outside and it opened the way for Suh and Vita Vea to finally get some one-on-ones.
"Any time I have an opportunity to get one-on-one blocks, the expectation is for me to win," said Suh. "I welcome the opportunity to continue to have more one-on-one opportunities as we continue to play throughout the season. That will be my ultimate focus – continue to win one-on-ones and make a name for myself. I can’t do that without the help of my guys outside – the defensive ends – as well as Vita [Vea] and Will [Gholston] that have come in and played at a high level as well.
"The secondary’s been doing their job from the standpoint of being in the right place at the right time and not allowing guys to roam free,” Suh added.
Next up are the Denver Broncos, who are having to turn to former Gator quarterback Jeff Driskel. He has just eight career NFL starts.