In their past three games -- two of which the Bucs have managed to win -- the defense has surrendered a total of 96 points and 412 yards rushing and allowed opponents to convert 41.8 percent of their third down tries.
That three-week point total marks the worst stretch the Bucs have had under the guidance of 10th-year defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Cummings continues by blaming this un-Kiffin like stretch of poor defense on the injuries in the secondary, which is a good point. Third string safety Kalvin Pearson has been getting beat more often than Mike Tyson does in scrabble.
But where is the young talent on this defense? The best players are all over 25. And the only young guys who look like they could possible be studs are Will Allen and Barrett Rudd. Which means there is no reason to predict that this defense will suddenly turn around its play.
If I had time to do further research, my guess is that this is because the Bucs have not had the same emphasis on drafting defensive players under Gruden as they did under Dungy. But just looking at the small sample size of first round picks, Gruden has taken Cadillac and Clayton with his two first round picks, while the last defensive player taken in the first round was Booger (under Dungy).
In the era of the salary cap every defense needs to bring in young stud defenders through the draft in order to stay at the top. Sports Illustrated ran an interesting article on just this subject a week ago where they pointed out that the top defenses this year, for example the Bears, Steelers and Broncos, all have young guys (i.e. players who have been in the league three years or fewer) making plays, Charles Tillman, Troy Palamalu and Darrent Williams respectively.
Anyway, feel free to post your thoughts on why the Bucs defense has been in decline.
And to take you in a completely different direction, check out the intro at Buccaneers.com. First decent intro I've seen at the site all season (much better than the Packers/Bucs eating cheese intro).