Buccaneers: A Jacquies Smith Rebound Would Be Big In 2017
By Bailey Adams
After going down with an ACL injury in the first quarter of the 2016 season opener, defensive end Jacquies Smith missed the entire year. He should rebound in a big way in 2017, which would be great news for the Buccaneers’ rising defense.
Heading into the 2016 season, Jacquies Smith was set to have a big impact for the Buccaneers. The young defensive end had shown flashes of big-play ability in 2014 and 2015. The team had signed Robert Ayers and drafted Noah Spence, making its defensive line look much stronger than it had been in a very long time. Then, Smith went down in the first quarter of the first game of the season. From there, the Tampa Bay defensive line was okay, but very inconsistent.
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Now, heading into the 2017 season, Smith is looking to make his way back. He is an exclusive-rights free agent, though the Bucs have tendered his contract. By doing this, Tampa Bay now has the right to match any offer given to him by another team. So, presumably, No. 56 will return to the field this fall in the red and pewter of the Bucs.
Seeing a healthy Smith would be a welcome sight for everyone, especially defensive coordinator Mike Smith. The Buccaneer defense had a solid run going during the team’s five-game winning streak in 2016, but it still had its share of inconsistencies throughout the season. It’s not hard to feel like the group is right on the cusp of being something special. Ayers, Spence, Gerald McCoy, Chris Baker, Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves is a solid core for a defense. Add Smith to that group and the Bucs could have something great.
Smith has never really been counted on in a full-time role, yet he has still managed to rack up 13 1/2 sacks in 27 career games. Before the 2016 season started, some wondered whether, if given enough snaps, Smith could be the first Buc to have a 10-sack season since Simeon Rice did it in 2005. Unfortunately, no one ever had the chance to find out.
The hope is, of course, that the 27-year-old has no recovery issues and comes back strong as ever. If he can recover fully, he should have a big role in 2017. With a healthy Smith, the Bucs have what looks like a highly-formidable defensive line. Veterans like Ayers, McCoy, Baker, Clinton McDonald and William Gholston will lead the way. The young Spence will add in a good balance as well. Then, there’s Smith, who could be the wild card to finally break out and give Tampa Bay a consistent pass rush that it has lacked for years.
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What do you think, Bucs fans? Who’s excited to see Jacquies Smith back on the field in 2017?