Brentson Buckner enters his first season with the Silver and Black, bringing 18 years of NFL experience, including the last six years on staff with both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals.
Buckner comes aboard having spent the 2018 campaign on staff with the Buccaneers as the club’s defensive line coach. Buckner took hold of the reins of a defense that finished last in the NFL in terms of sacks in 2017. In just one season, Buckner fielded a defensive front that improved the team’s sack total by 16, totaling 38 on the year to tie for 19th-most in the NFL in 2018.
Three of his defensive lineman finished with at least six sacks on the year, including a team-leading 12.5 by DE Jason Pierre-Paul, the most by a Buccaneer since 2005 and tied for 12th-most in the NFL on the year. Pierre-Paul’s 12.5 sacks in 2018 were tied for the second-most of his career and his most since 2014. Buckner coached DT Gerald McCoy to six sacks on the season, tied for ninth-most among all NFL defensive tackles and extending his personal streak of seasons with at least six sacks to six. Additionally, DE Carl Nassib finished with a career-high 6.5 sacks in his first year with the club.
Prior to his one-year stint with the Buccaneers, Buckner spent five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2013-17) in the same capacity. During that time, the Cardinals defense totaled for 203 sacks, a mark that tied for seventh-most in the NFL. Additionally, the team ranked second in rushing yards allowed per game (93.8 avg.), third in yards allowed (324.7 avg.), fourth in rushing yards per attempt (3.81 avg.) and sixth in points allowed per game ( 20.7 avg.) during that same span.
In 2017, DE Chandler Jones notched a career- and NFL-best 17 sacks en route to his first All-Pro selection and second Pro Bowl honor under Buckner’s guidance. Jones’ 17 sacks on the year broke a 19-year club record that was previously set by DE Simeon Rice in 1999. That year, the team ranked sixth overall in total defense (310.9 avg.), in large part due to the men up front who held opponents to just 89.6 yards per game on the ground, a mark that also ranked sixth in the NFL and fourth in the NFC.
In 2016, the club led the NFL with 48 sacks, good for the third-highest single-season total in franchise history. That year, Buckner’s defensive line showcased three players with at least eight sacks on the year, the only team in the NFL to accomplish the feat. DE Markus Golden paved the way with 12.5 sacks for the club, which tied for the third-most in the NFL, while DE Calais Campbell added eight of his own and Jones pitched in with 11.
Featured in 2015 was a defensive unit that boasted the No. 5 overall ranking, while the men in the trenches held opponents to an average of just 91.3 rushing yards per game for the sixth-best mark in the league. DE Dwight Freeney led the club with eight sacks, and Campbell added five of his own while earning his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection under Buckner.
In his first two seasons in the NFL, the Cardinals compiled 82 sacks and recorded the No. 1 rush defense in 2013, holding opponents to an average of just 84.4 yards per game on the ground. The team’s 84.4 rushing yards allowed that season marked a new franchise record in just Buckner’s first season with the club.
He served as a training camp intern with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2010-12 following his two-year stint (2008-09) as head coach of Northside Christian Academy in Charlotte, N.C. Buckner began his coaching career as a defensive coordinator for Victory Christian Academy in 2007.
PERSONAL: A native of Columbus, Ga. …Selected in the second round (50th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1994 NFL Draft…Played 12 years professionally, spending time with the Steelers (1994-96), Cincinnati Bengals (1997), San Francisco 49ers (1998-2000) and Carolina Panthers (2001-05), appearing in 174 games with 127 starts…Played four seasons (1990-93) with the Clemson Tigers and finished third on the school’s all-time sacks list…He and his wife, Denise, have two daughters, Nia and Nya, and a son, Brandon.