The Bucs used to pride themselves on getting after the quarterback. But those days are long gone.
It has been a while since the Buccaneers have made noise in the opponents backfield on a consistent basis. In fact, you may have to go as far back as the Warren Sapp/Simeon Rice days. That doesn’t go over well with Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith who set a standard for the number of sacks his edge rushers need to have.
“That’s totally unacceptable for us [not recording 10 or more sacks],” Smith said on Tuesday. “When we talk about getting pressure with our four-man rush, a part of that normally says one of our outside guys has to have 10-plus. That’s the standard for an outside pass rusher, 10-plus sacks. We haven’t played the type of defense we need to and as we become a better defense that will change. We have guys capable of doing that.”
Defensive end Jacquies Smith was extremely impressive in his limited work last season after coming on late. After starting in seven of the final eight games last season, Smith recorded 6.5 sacks. Before him, former Buccaneer and current Seattle Seahawks’ defensive end Michael Bennett recorded nine sacks in 2012 for the pewter pirates.
The Bucs acquired defensive end George Johnson from Detroit this past offseason for help off the edge. Johnson took down the quarterback six times in 2014 for the Lions so there is hope with him.
But it will take more than two players to get the job done. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy came close to a 10-sack season in 2013 when he recorded 9.5 sacks and veteran defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is expected to contribute greatly.
Still, work has to be put in by the defensive front. If things work out, the unit could be a productive one.