Michael Bennett Michael Bennett Michael Bennett

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim Should Not Be Starting, or Playing, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

During the offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers allowed Michael Bennett to walk in free agency, and he is now a dominating force in Seattle on a well-coached defense.

But the Buccaneers still had Da’Quan Bowers, who was fully healthy and ready to take over at the defensive end position across from Adrian Clayborn.

Then training camp and preseason came along, and Bowers found his way into Greg Schiano’s doghouse. Bowers would be relegated to the bench in preseason and never find his way back into the starting lineup.

So who is starting at defensive end in place of Bowers? Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. And why is he the starter? Greg Schiano believes Te’o-Nesheim is “relentless” and more consistent than Bowers.

He’s also one of the worst defensive linemen in the NFL.

According to Pro Football Focus, Te’o-Nesheim is the lowest graded 4-3 defensive end to play at least 25% of his teams snaps. And he’s last by a wide margin. Shea McClellin of the Chicago Bears is second to last with an overall grade of -11.7. Te’o-Nesheim’s grade is -22.4.

Sep 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn (94) gets ready to rush against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Arizona Cardinals defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For reference, both Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers are in the negatives as well, but they are -6.3 and -1.8 respectively. So according to the analysts at Pro Football Focus, Te’o-Nesheim is the worst defensive end in the NFL, and by a wide margin over his already disappointing teammates.

A look at the tape shows this number to be accurate. But most of you won’t even need tape to realize how disappointing he’s been this season.

How often has his name been called? How often have you seen him making any sort of play? As a defensive end, he should be involved in the defense and making plays on every other drive, at least. But instead, Te’o-Nesheim has missed more tackles (3) than he has sacks (0).

The only players in the NFL to get pressure on the quarterback less often on a per-play basis than Te’o-Nesheim are both Jacksonville Jaguars, also according to PFF.

And just think back to the play depicted in the image at the top of this article. Te’o-Nesheim got pressure on Cam Newton (it was his only pressure of the night), and Newton was able to hold him off and throw and easy touchdown pass.

There is no reason for Te’o-Nesheim to be starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he probably shouldn’t even be playing. Allow William Gholston or Steven Means to get their shot at defensive end, or do the right thing and give Bowers the starting position and let him sink or swim.

But it’s clear that Te’o-Nesheim is not talented enough to be a regular contributor at defensive end, and he doesn’t have a scouting report that indicates he’ll get better with more chances. He’s not the future at defensive end, and he should be moved to the bench to allow younger, more promising players to get their chances.