Key To Defense: Health

June 2nd, 2016
Health = sacks.

Health = sacks.

Joe had a chance to talk to Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner after underwear football practice (OTAs) today. He’s one of Joe’s favorite players to talk to because he is intelligent, thoughtful and real.

Today, Verner opened Joe’s eyes to a way-overlooked element if not a key to the Bucs’ defense.

Joe had asked Verner about how much he and his fellow defensive backs are happy because it seems Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht emphasized quarterback pressure by his offseason moves, which included signing defensive end Robert Ayers and drafting defensive end Noah Spence.

Verner did not deny that and admitted those moves put a smile on his face. But Verner added something that turned the lightbulb on in Joe’s head:

The key to quarterback pressure is as much health as it is new additions. And Verner is right. Consider:

* Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald missed the last 10 games due to injury.

* Akeem Spence played in only half of the Bucs games due to offseason back surgery.

* Defensive end Jacquies Smith played with a bum shoulder most of the year and missed four games. He had offseason shoulder surgery recently.

* Gerald McCoy was hardly 100 percent last year and still had solid if not good production.

“That’s going to be a tremendous help for us in the back end,” Verner said of a healthy line,” Verner said.

If those four have a healthy season, with the addition of Ayers and the development of Spence, maybe, just maybe Bucs fans might see an opposing quarterback eat dirt from time to time.

Just typing that, Joe thinks it sounds like a dream of some sort.

8 Responses to “Key To Defense: Health”

  1. Buccaneers Says:

    My key to Defense: Fundamentals

  2. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Definitely agree. The D-line looked a LOT better with a healthy McDonald & 100% McCoy & Smith.

    I think we’ve signed some DT for depth but no one very promising. I like the DE rotation with Ayers/Smith/Spence/Gholston and the developmental guys like Howard

  3. Fsuking Says:

    Key to defense: Anyone but Lovie Smith

  4. DB55 Says:

    not sure it’s realistic to expect to be 100% healthy in the NFL for a full season.

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    I’m obviously missing something Joe. Our DLine was banged up all last year to be sure, but overall the Bucs registered 38 sacks. That’s the most sacks since 2004 (45 sacks) and 2002 (43 sacks) … when we had Simeon Rice in double digit sacks both those years. Like everyone else, I’d love to see us get back to those mid-40 numbers, but unless someone breaks out and ends up with double-digit sacks like Simeon did, that’d be hard to do. What I’d love to see besides sacks is consistent pressure on the QB as well as excellent containment. Force him into making mistakes so that our INTs can go up … a bunch. Doubling our INTs should be our goal (we only had 11 last year).

  6. BoJim Says:

    Just typing that, Joe thinks it sounds like a dream of some sort.

    I just can’t say it. 😉

  7. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    The biggest opponent you face every year is the injury bug. With that Saud I think not having g big Mac all season at DT hurt us the most. He’s one of the underated players for this defense and a leader as well. He logged up the middle and would apply pressure as well, evidence of 5 sacks the year before. One email he was out, the opposing line could focus in on GMC because there was no other threat at DT. Spence is a good player when it comes to stopping the run, but that’s about it. And I excited to see what Jac Smith can do if he can stay healthy for 16 games. I think he would of broke double digits if he would of stayed healthy. He was certainly on pace to do so. And with the additions of Spence and Ayers it will be interesting to see what GMC can do with sum help along the line finally. If he stays healthy I think he breaks ten sacks this year. But that’s a big if. Hopefully he does so he can shut all the idiotic haterz up around here.

  8. Dave Says:

    Defense Rules —
    No offense, but Yes, you’re missing something. While the sack total increased, much was not because of DEs and there was no consistency in pressure at all.

    Smith and spence and ayers on the outside with McCoy and spence and McDonald on the inside…. Plus the fact that Mike smith likes to send Kwon or Lavonte with their speed…. I see them pushing 50. I know it sounds crazy but the league is pass happy. That’s a lot of drop backs. Plus they have an offense to keep them in games or even- gasp- get leads. Then they have DBs that should be able to take away quick slants to make it so the QB can’t get rid of the ball in 2 seconds. Lots of variables and they are right, health is absolute key, but I see this-

    Gerald McCoy 10
    Akeem Spence 3
    Clinton McDonald 1
    Robert Ayers 8
    Jacques Smith 8
    Noah Spence 7
    Labonte David 5
    Kwon Alexander 5
    Howard Jones 3

    That’s 50 right there and I think that is very realistic in the new defense that attacks more.
    Honestly though, I think McCoy goes off this year and has 12+ which is fantastic for a DT.
    I also think the rookie Spence sniffs 10 because he just flat out knows how to get to the QB when you watch him.

    I am an optimist though, but I see this defense completely turned around. The talent is there.