THE OPTIMIST: Defense Improvement Is Clear

October 31st, 2011

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also brings you THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

We’re one game away from the halfway point in the Bucs’ regular season and so far, at least, the team strategy is starting to take form.

The Bucs spent the first two picks of the 2010 NFL Draft on defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. McCoy played last year until his Week 11 injury that cost him his season. Brian Price only got into a couple games last year as he had a freak injury, but he’s back and thriving and should finish up the year alongside McCoy, who is due back from an ankle injury on Sunday.

This year, the Bucs spent their top two picks on defensive ends, and that is paying dividends almost immediately. Second round pick Da’Quan Bowers is coming along nicely, but top selection Adrian Clayborn is leading the team with three sacks.

That ranks him 28th in the NFL, but last season, no one from the Bucs even made the first page. The top sack man in 2010 was Stylez G. White and Clayborn needs only 1.5 sacks the rest of the way to equal that mark. Clayborn has actually come on fire lately, and he could easily break Lee Roy Selmon’s rookie record of five QB takedowns set back in 1976.

But football is a team sport, and stats are for losers, right? Well, our Bucs have improved in D-line play as a team, too.

Statistically, the Bucs are ranked 28th in total yards against, 26th against the pass and 22nd against the run. Out of 32 teams, they are 23rd in sacks. In the running game, they are 18th in allowing 4.5 yards per play.

In 2010, the Bucs were 28th against the run, giving up 132 yards per game. So far this year it’s 123 yards per game. But instead of being 23rd in sacks, last year they were 31st out of 32 teams. Only Denver was worse.

Not only that, but in three of their seven games this season the Bucs have held the opposing offense to under 100 yards combined rushing. In 2010, the Bucs only had four games all year that they didn’t give up over 100 yards rushing. Clearly the defensive line is making a difference.

Middle linebacker is also an improvement this year and responsible for the Bucs slight but still apparent move up the charts.

It may not be earth-shattering, but the dominant Bucs defense of old wasn’t built overnight, either.

6 Responses to “THE OPTIMIST: Defense Improvement Is Clear”

  1. flmike Says:

    But we suck and need new coaches and we need to sign every free agent who hits the streets, GMC needs to be cut….
    oh sorry, I was just possessed by Thomas2.2
    Carry on.

  2. MVPFreeman Says:

    Kind of throws the “easy 2010 scehdule” theory out the window. Doesn’t it?

  3. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    Don’t worry, the “fire everybody and start over” crowd will come back out of the woodwork like cockroaches in a dark kitchen after the next loss. Count on it. I just wish I had a big enough can of Raid to kill all of ’em. Oh well…

  4. thomas 2.2 Says:

    Remember this is the optimist or myopian.

    The easy 2010 schedule is not a theory, any more than the earth being round not flat. All wins but the Saints and Bengals game were against rookie, 2nd or 3rd string quarterbacks.

    How do you call this defensive improvement? They ended the year 19th in total defense and this year so far they are 28th. Nice how you avoided that statistical comparison. Not so clear is it.

    Just because Clayborn is playing better than Styles means very little.

    The OLBs stink. Talib has regressed, Biggers is toast, and GMC has been renamed by the Big Dog the “Big Softy.” I like Price, Bennett and Bowers though. The defensive overall and statistically is worse, so is there team record after 7 games.

  5. Niko (The Optimist) Says:

    Thomas 2.2- Its not even the half way point of the season yet. Of course Im going to show the stats that support my point of the article…There are signs the Bucs draft picks are improving. The signs are 3 games already shutting down a teams run.

    And I love how everyone likes to point out the weak 2010 schedule. News Flash..The Saints and Falcons fed off that weak schedule to you know! 13-3 my arse! So why does no one complain about their easy schedule?

    I predict Clayborn is going to catch fire soon. And as for McCoy, he is doing exactly what he was brought here to do…get penetration, not necessarily sacks. Get over Warren Sapp, there is only ONE Warren Sapp. Of all the 3 technique DT, his is third in sacks. You don’t find that kind of player every ten years, they come once a lifetime.

  6. Thomas 2.2 Says:

    I appreciate your general positivity. Yes, the Falcons were not 13-3 good either. We agree on Clayborn, I expected a slower adjustment, Clay has exceeded my expectations.

    I didn’t expect McCoy to be Sapp, I just want him to be Chris Hovan or Booger McFarland. I don’t care what any of you say, he was brought in to do much more than he has. The supporters have just lowered the bar realizing that it looks like you aren’t going to get much from this guy.

    I believe that if they had it to do over again, today, they would give the contract $ to a number of different available players.