LACK OF PRESSURE BY THE DEFENSIVE LINE
As pretty much every Buccaneers fan is aware the Buccaneers have not had a ten sack season by a players since Simeon Rice in 2002 which is the longest streak in the NFL by far with second going to the Jacksonville Jaguars whose streak is since 2006.
The Buccaneers have tried for several years to fix that stat by bringing in bust free agents Michael Johnson and George Johnson, but also finding good players in Jacquies Smith, Clinton McDonald, and Robert Ayers, and then through the draft with pure pass rusher Noah Spence.
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A little history now, in the last three seasons the Buccaneers have a total of 112 sacks averaging 37 sacks per season. The defensive line has accounted for 88 of the 112 sacks (79%) with the regular starting four accounted for 73 of those 88 sacks (83%).
In the last three seasons the Buccaneers also have amassed 220 quarterback pressures with the defensive line totaling 148 of those pressures (67%) or 26th out of 32 NFL teams. Of the Buccaneers 3185 total tackles in the last three seasons the defensive line has 652 of them (20%).
It all sounds pretty good right?, but now the bad part during that three year stretch opposing quarterbacks have a completion percentage of 63.6% – 2016, 69.9% – 2015, and 68.7% – 2014 for a three year average of 67.3% which is well above the NFL average.
Now pass rush is not the only cause of this stat and pass coverage plays a big part as well, but when you are not getting pressure on the quarterbacks they have plenty of time to go through their progressions and find the open receivers.
Now what is the point of all of these stats that I have laid out here? Well lets go to the preseason which isn’t really a good measuring stick but it still follows the concerning pattern that I have for this team.
During four preseason games the starting defensive line had one of the three defensive line sacks, and six of the 82 tackles made by the defensive line during the preseason.
Coach Koetter also mentioned this concern in his presser the day after preseason game three against the Browns:
"“Any team that can get pressure with a four man rush is ahead of the game, I wouldn’t say that we have wowed anybody in that area in preseason. Some of that is timing. Just like offensive lineman working side-by-side in our games, those are the guys they work with. We haven’t been how we would like to be. We did a good job in Jacksonville of getting pressure, not necessarily getting home, but last night was not as good.”"
Granted none of the starter played in week four, a few of the defensive line starters sat out week three, they all played the first half in game two, and one quarter in preseason game one. Also I know that the preseason means basically nothing other than to evaluate talent and make sure that players do not suffer major injury, but as the stats from the previous three seasons show this is a pattern that is still concerning leading into the 2017 season.