TAMPA, Fla. -- After ranking last in the league in pass defense last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers invested a lot of currency in their defensive backfield.
They spent big money on cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson and used a second-round draft pick on cornerback Johnthan Banks. That's paying off, even though the numbers from Revis and Goldson don't show it.
The Bucs rank No. 18 against the pass. More importantly, they lead the league with 17 interceptions.
"We addressed it as a need and we went out and got some guys that were truly excellent players and really good leaders," coach Greg Schiano said. "Like anything, when you bring in an elite player to a position room, it raises the level."
Revis has two interceptions and Goldson has one. But Schiano said the real impact of the two veterans can be measured by the leadership they've brought.
"You remember in training camp with Dashon running extra sprints, teaching them man coverage and techniques and stuff," Schiano said. "That to me is what team is and that's what football is, when you have that selfless giving of information. I go back to training camp. It's hot -- get inside, get in the tub and eat your lunch or you can stay out there and help a rookie, who may or may not make the football team. That, to me, is the kind of guys that they are. Darrelle's the same way. Darrelle talks with all the corners and I think really has been a good mentor. We do have a bunch of young guys."
Those young guys have been coming through. Safety Keith Tandy and linebacker Lavonte David are tied for the team lead with three interceptions each. Banks, linebacker Mason Foster and second-year safety Mark Barron each have two interceptions while linebacker Dekoda Watson and cornerback Leonard Johnson have one apiece.
Schiano said that wouldn't have been possible without the additions of Revis and Goldson.
"They've been valuable," Schiano said. "We need them to be. It's a passing league and we need that to continue."