Weakest Unit

May 24th, 2015
Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders is not enamored with Bucs DE Jacquies Smith.

Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders is not enamored by DE Jacquies Smith.

Joe understands how some readers are irked at Joe for harping on the Bucs’ offensive line. Well, they haven’t done anything to make Joe stop kvetching.

As OTAs resume later this week, two starting positions — left tackle and right guard — are up for grabs between four guys, only one of which has taken a regular-season snap: Kevin Pamphile, one of the two “Milk Cartons.”

This is not helping Joe sleep at night with a rookie quarterback starting. Joe hopes “America’s Quarterback,” Bucs signal-caller Jameis Winston, has a Lloyd’s of London policy in case he is maimed.

The reason Joe brings this up is that Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders typed a piece for BSPN identifying the weakest links on each NFC South team. To Joe’s surprise, Schatz believes defensive end is the weakest position on the Bucs.

Schatz actually believes the two second-round rookies on the offensive line have more potential and promise than whatever the Bucs are trotting out at defensive end.

But you won’t find similar young talent at defensive end after Michael Johnson was cut and Clayborn left in free agency. Currently penciled in at one starting end position is Jacquies Smith. Smith had no sacks while spending his first two years in the league with three different teams. The Bucs picked him up after Buffalo cut him early last season, and Smith ended up with 6.5 sacks and 14.0 hurries (according to Football Outsiders game charting). Both figures were second on the team to Gerald McCoy. On the other side will be George Johnson, acquired from Detroit by trade. Johnson actually began his NFL career with Tampa Bay in 2010 and had no sacks in four years with Tampa and Minnesota before breaking out with six (and 11.5 hurries) for Detroit in 2014.

What can we expect from players with sudden breakouts like this? It’s hard to say, because they are so rare. I went looking for edge rushers since 2000 who were undrafted, had one sack or less in their first two seasons, and then broke out with a season of at least six sacks. There are only five, and three of them had their breakout seasons a year ago: Smith, Johnson, and Ryan Davis of Jacksonville. The fourth is Adewale Ogunleye, but unlike Smith and Johnson, Ogunleye did not bounce from team to team; the Dolphins realized what they had when they signed him and they nurtured him on their roster until he blossomed. The fifth was Mark Word, who bounced from Kansas City to the CFL to Cleveland to NFL Europe and then back to Cleveland where he had eight sacks in 2002. However, Word had only four sacks in 2003 and then headed back to Canada.

If Smith and Johnson are more like Word than they are like Ogunleye, struggling to match their breakout 2014 seasons, the Bucs don’t have many notable players to replace them in the starting lineup. The second string is taken up by William Gholston, who had only two sacks last year despite nine starts, and former Chargers first-round bust Larry English, who in six years has never had more than three sacks in a season.

Schatz makes a compelling argument, but the thing is, the defensive ends are not protecting the future of the franchise, and a rookie at that.

If Jameis goes down or God forbid blows a shoulder or knee, then this team is screwed for years.

If Smith and Johnson can’t get the job done, they are not endangering anyone’s career much less physical well-being.

46 Responses to “Weakest Unit”

  1. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Joe, at least they tried to address the o-line. You keep acting like getting rid of Johnson was this great thing. You also had no problem with Claiborne being released. The fact is now we don’t have a single legitimate starting DE on the team. It’s very similar to what we did with the O-line last year. Letting players go is fine unless you don’t bring in better players to replace them. I am stunned that you don’t seem to see how big of a problem this is.

  2. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Looking like all defense next year in the draft…

  3. cash Says:

    Spot on observation Joe

  4. teebeefan Says:

    Joe, I agree with Schatz; DE is the Bucs weakest position on paper right now. If the question was which position/group has the greatest potential to harm the Bucs the most, you might have a compelling argument that it is the OL. But that does not appear to be the subject of his article.

  5. Buc-A-New Says:

    Second yr in the system for most of the D . Our D will be Just Fine seeing as they wont have to be on the field for 45 minutes a game.

  6. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Here’s a interesting stat folks. The cowboys were a play away from the NFC championship game they had a grand total of 28 sacks last season. Last in the league.

  7. unbelievable Says:

    @Nole that is interesting. I guess an explosive, powerful offense can come in quite handy…

  8. The Buc Realist Says:

    Here is the thing Joe. When there is not Pressure on the other Qb because all the other team has to do is double team GMC. And the other team is up by 2 or 3 touchdowns by the half like last year. Lovie will look at his book and go predictable and abandon the run to force Jamies to throw the ball all second half. That is why the Bucs were blitzed so much last year!!!

  9. Buc1987 Says:

    Protect Jameis and BIG things are going to happen….

    That’s all for now folks.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneer Defense….”America’s Defense”

  11. Joe Says:

    ou also had no problem with Claiborne being released.

    Clayborn — proper spelling — was no way worth his salary. Shoot, George Johnson got more production the past two years than Clayborn and at a fraction of the salary. Not extending Clayborn was a no-brainer. You couldn’t depend on him because he couldn’t stay on the field.

    Clayborn really hasn’t done anything since his rookie year.

    You keep acting like getting rid of Johnson was this great thing.

    You are suggesting the Bucs should have kept Charles Johnson, seriously? The guy was a complete and utter joke. The fact the Bucs were willing to eat millions to get rid of him should tell you all you need to know about The Ghost.

  12. AJ Says:

    Anyone watching the growth of Smith last year. Would realize that he was absolutely balling the last half of season. Once he was put in there. Love the motor on this guy. I see no drop off from Michael Johnson, though not a high bar.

  13. lurker Says:

    bucs defense is “iraq’s defense”

    the biggest weakness are some of these lame fans.

  14. lurker Says:

    jameis christ is american sniper

  15. The Buc Realist Says:

    With all of the Buc’s “weak units” its to bad they could not fix the problems with some viagra!

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ Lurker

    We may be lame but we are “America’s Lame Fans” for “America’s Lame Team” with “America’s Lame Defense, Offense, Special Teams”

    Stand tall Lurker….it builds great character to back a loser year after year.

  17. Joe Says:

    With all of the Buc’s “weak units” its to bad they could not fix the problems with some viagra!

    Was waiting for that. 🙂

  18. Buc-A-New Says:

    lurker Says:
    May 24th, 2015 at 3:51 pm
    jameis christ is american sniper
    I guess it is not technically Memorial Day so that remark is not nearly as offensive as it will be tomorrow.
    God Bless all of my fallen friends and Soldiers everywhere!!!

  19. Bucnut2 Says:

    My bet. At the end of the year quarterback will be the weakest position.

  20. lurker Says:

    “Stand tall Lurker….it builds great character to back a loser year after year.”

    it is now easier to stand tall with jameis christ helping carry this burden!

  21. Dave Pear Says:

    I’ll take that bet Bucnut2.
    How much?

  22. Dave Pear Says:

    Of course you’ll probably welch on the bet like Erik the Pill Pusher did to poor old 87.

  23. lurker Says:

    “I guess it is not technically Memorial Day so that remark is not nearly as offensive as it will be tomorrow.”

    jameis christ is american sniper is offensive? because the movie is offensive to soldiers? huh.

    it is less offensive than america’s quarterback. especially when he is hitting his targets like laser-guided bombs or a McMillan TAC-338 Rifle Package.

  24. lurker Says:

    so 87 never got his jersey?

  25. Dave Pear Says:

    Not that I’m aware of, and I check this site daily.
    I’m sure 87 would have said something by now.
    Erik the Pill Pusher is not a stand up guy.

  26. Dave Pear Says:

    If you’re out there….
    Let us know if you got your jersey.

  27. Brent Says:

    Joe, that Shaatz guy is telling you Mj and Claiborne are way more talented than what we added in Johnson and smith. I’m not sure about that but why are you so concerned with wasting millions on Mj?? My take is bring him back one more year. If he busts then cut him. We are way under salary cap. Mj had mor sacks in one year then both smith and Johnson in 4 years. If we are way under cap and suck at de why not bring Mj back. Who cares about owners money?

  28. unbelievable Says:

    @brent, mj is long gone- and back in Cincinnati.

  29. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ Brent

    When you find cancer….you don’t just let it be. Yes…the owners have enough money to cut $orry-a$$ losers like Collins & Johnson…..good riddance!!!

  30. unbelievable Says:

    Plus, he was absolutely terrible. I was insulted as a fan watching him ‘play’ each week.

  31. Buc1987 Says:

    Nope never got that jersey…

  32. Buc1987 Says:

    Perhaps a DDoS attack on Erik the cleaning guy’s website would do him just fine!

  33. BucFan20 Says:

    There was a fan wearing one in Walmart today. Even with the digital 3 and Winston on it , They are still UGLY.

  34. WS99 Says:

    I’ve been watching highlights of 2013+2014 seasons ever since joe wrote the “top 5” article and let me tell you Jac Smith is definitely not the weakest link.

    As for depth, if something happens at WR we’re F.

  35. Buc-A-New Says:

    Howdy DB! Hope you are having a good weekend. I think we have a top three One Two punch in the league at WR. Now where it goes after that if Murphy has found his niche, or Bell can beat him out. Have we labeled Herron a bust automatically after last yr’s offensive debacle? I think that Koetters use of TE’s, see Tony Gonzalez, that number 3 wrs are not going to be needed that often if we can Finally field an OL that can give a QB a full 7 step drop and now we have one that knows what to do with that comfort zone. I am not concerned with Any offensive position that isn’t on the Line.

  36. Jody Says:

    I know it was said before the draft. Winston will suck for about 5 games. Then the injury bug will come out not because he’s hurt his an excuse for his decision making. Glad to see you holes fans and Joe preparing for it early as an excuse. Mariota will play all 16 and you will have excuse for that too. Pitiful.

  37. BoJim Says:

    With all of the Buc’s “weak units” its to bad they could not fix the problems with some viagra!

    I don’t think I want to see the Bucs running around in the stands yelling “it’s been 4 hours!!”

  38. FortMyersDave Says:

    The Bucs patched the biggest leaks on the Pirate ship by drafting qb, OT, OG with their first 3 picks of the draft so it is not that big of a reach to label DE as the weakest link in the chain now as it has been hashed over numerous site here at Joe’s and elsewhere that DE was a glaring need in the 2014 draft along with OL and qb. The Bucs could not fix everything in one draft thus went and tried to shore up the offense, hopefully this won’t come back to haunt the Bucs in 2015 when they can not get pressure on the opponent late when they need a stop, qb pressure or a sack to seal the win; Bucs D simply let a lot of clubs score late on them in 2014 (Rams, Saints and Vikes all ran shotgun over the Bucs late last season)……

  39. lurker Says:

    Buc1987 Said:
    May 24th, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Nope never got that jersey…


    what a douche. pushes snake-oil pills, run his mouth, then reneges. tells you what kind of person and businessman he is. others should know, too.

  40. lurker Says:

    ” The Bucs could not fix everything in one draft…”

    exactly! this was a multi-draft affair, and when you have the #1 pick and the dire need at qb, you take care the offense. next year’s draft we can get the d-end.

  41. Joe Says:

    Bingo, lurker.

  42. Arealbucsfan Says:

    @Jody gtfo. Ur a loser. Get off this site and go to Titans fan site, u bum

  43. Tampabaybucfan Says:


    Give 87 his jersey……he wouldn’t have stiffed you….have some class.

  44. Buccfan37 Says:

    Yeah Eric, give Buc1987 his jersey he won fair and square! On another note the Lightning just beat the Rangers 2-0 in New York to take a 3-2 lead in the series, Go Bolts! Stanley Cup Finals here they come!

  45. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Joe – my problem is that the Bucs didn’t upgrade at the DE positions. Yes those two underperformed last year but the guys we have now would not be starting DEs on any other team in the NFL. Too me it looks like exactly what they did the prior year with the offensive line. When you’re 2-14 you can’t completely ignore one of the weakest parts of your team. I’m sorry but I don’t think making a bad trade and giving up a 6th rounder for a scrub is the answer either.

  46. JFF Says:

    Gerald McCoy is much more important to the Bucs than Winston. Winston has proven throughout his career that he can hurt a team as much as he can help it. McCoy is the entire pass rush in a defense that depends on a pass rush to function.