Defensive Line: C
After an off-season in which the Bucs added veteran defensive end Robert Ayers and rookie defensive end Noah Spence, expectations for the teams’ defensive line were extremely high. Yet as we sit here a quarter of the way through the season it’s difficult to describe the Buccaneer defensive line as anything but disappointing. Through four games the Buccaneer defense has accounted for nine total sacks (12th in the NFL), and six of those came from defensive linemen.
Early season injuries to Robert Ayers and Jacquies Smith robbed the Bucs of their pass rush in the blink of an eye. It’s hard to overstate just how big these losses have been. Smith was an ascending 3rd year player with real potential to surpass the elusive 10 sack benchmark. Ayers was a versatile veteran that could get after quarterbacks and stop the run as well. While Smith is out for the season the Bucs are fortunate that Ayers will be back soon.
The defensive line isn’t totally without positives, however. They’ve done an alright job of stopping the run, allowing the 12th fewest yards per game in the NFL (though that figure is certainly helped by their superb linebackers). For the short amount of time that Robert Ayers has been on the field he’s looked impressive and well-worth the investment that they made in him.
If McCoy, Ayers and Spence can get and remain healthy there is reason for optimism heading into quarter-two of the season, but as of now they’ve been average at best.