Football Team

Bucs' run showed Washington needs help here, and it's not QB

Football Team

The main lesson that the Washington Football Team can learn from the Buccaneers' playoff run, which was capped off by their Sunday win in Super Bowl LV, is that adding the most respected and most productive and most intelligent and most committed quarterback in NFL history to one's roster is a useful idea.

However, since Tom Brady isn't slated to join the Burgundy and Gold anytime soon, that information isn't going to do them much good.

Beyond that, though, something else about Tampa Bay's playoff streak had to have jumped out to Washington and, in particular, Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio. And that was the way in which the Bucs' linebackers played such a major role in the club's second-ever title. 

In Devin White and Lavonte David, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has a pair of excellent answers to today's modern offenses. White and David possess speed that's rare for the position, and that quality allows them to harass opposing passers (White posted nine sacks in the regular season) as well as patrol the field as tacklers (both went over triple digits in that category) and in coverage (White picked off two passes while David notched four pass deflections in the playoffs).

Tampa's front line is rightfully receiving tons of attention for how much they pressured Patrick Mahomes in the victory over Kansas City, but the pair of do-everything defenders behind that unit was just as instrumental in earning the Lombardi Trophy. 

They also represent the exact kind of difference maker that Washington must find for their own roster this offseason.

 

Throughout the year, Rivera was hesitant to criticize his own players during press conferences, even in obvious cases when a particular individual or group was really struggling. One exception to that rule was how he evaluated his own linebackers; in multiple instances, he straight up told the media he wasn't getting enough out of that bunch and he wasn't pleased with how they were handling the scheme change under Del Rio.

So, going off of those types of comments, it already seemed quite likely that there'll be a new face and name, if not multiple new faces and names, among Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb and Co. come training camp this summer. That prospect was on the table long before the Bucs outlasted everyone else.

Yet the effect that White and David had over the past month further emphasizes how impactful the right piece or pieces can be. Sure, you can get by with average athleticism and contributions from your LBs — which Bostic, Holcomb and Kevin Pierre-Louis provided in 2020 — but if you truly devote resources there, it can put you over the top. 

Perhaps Washington will stay at pick No. 19 in the draft and snag an up-and-comer there. Of course, they could also look to find reinforcements before that in free agency (ironically enough, David is due to hit the market, and so are options such as Buffalo's Matt Milano and Tennessee's Jayon Brown). Taking advantage of both avenues isn’t out of the question, either.

Regardless of where the franchise ultimately locates help, they simply need to do it. 

Quarterback is the topic that'll dominate this website, the area's radio shows and anything else that discusses the Football Team for the foreseeable future (and probably eternity), but linebacker can't be ignored. It also shouldn’t merely be patched together.

No, it's not the most glamorous spot, but as White and David proved, it can absolutely be game-changing. Washington should be well aware of that now.