2016’s Best Third-Down Defense

January 2nd, 2017
Key cog in two historic Bucs defensive marks

Key cog in two historic Bucs defensive marks

Back in 2012, the Buccaneers had the very best run defense in the NFL, complemented by the second-worst pass defense in the history of the NFL.

It was a stunning contrast, one that forced Bucs fans to savor Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy beasting on first and second downs, while offenses feasted on the likes of E.J. Biggers and Danny Gorrer at cornerback on third downs.

This year’s Bucs defense presented a different kind of contrast.

Dirk Koetter crowed today about how Tampa Bay had the No. 1 third-defense in the game. Simply stated, the Bucs forced fourth down better at a rate better than any team in the league.

It’s an especially stunning accomplishment considering the Bucs allowed a mountain of points and yards through their first eight games. But then came the lockdown.

Lovie Smith used to talk endlessly about getting off the field on third down but couldn’t make it happen.

This year, something clicked. Joe sees it as a combination of fewer penalties, better tackling, a slightly improved pass rush and radically improved cornerback play.

The fun thing is, none of the key cogs of the Bucs’ third-down defense are set to leave the club. Free-agent-to-be Will Gholston and possibly-retiring linebacker Daryl Smith rarely played on third down.

16 Responses to “2016’s Best Third-Down Defense”

  1. Chris Says:

    Still pimping GMC, even after he was blown completely out of almost every play in yesterday’s game. The most overhyped player in Buccaneer history. And yes, with his lofty draft status, we should be talking HOF. Not a bust , but has not lived up to what his potential could have been.

  2. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    Ah Chris I can see it’s time for our regular lesson about hyperbole.

    exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

    You lose your credibility when you post like that. GMC is hardly a bust! As to whether first round draft picks belong in the HOF or they are a bust that is pretty ludicrous.

    GMC is not Warren Sapp…he’s a far better human being but he’s not the same DT. So ten years from now is everybody going to be ripping on Kwon if he’s not DB55 and HOF material.

    One thing is certain. If you need a solid dose of mindless negativity a visit to JBF will help move your day along.

  3. Danthebucfan Says:

    My eyes tell me that this stat belongs to Brent Grimes and VH3.

  4. DB55 Says:

    Lol no thanks to the jolly green giant. Better but a pic of Spawn up there lol

  5. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    One thing that has been mentioned but not nearly enough IMO.

    This team was a tale of two defenses. The first part of the year we sucked. Smitty begged for some time and claimed he needed at least four games before his players would have his D mastered.

    Well when you look at the D during that five game win streak you gotta believe Smitty knew what he was talking about.

    The horrible stats on defense at the beginning of the year average with the second half of the year to make us look mediocre.

  6. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Take McCoy away from the defensive line and how good would it be?

    It would outright suck.

    So there you go.

  7. Buc believer Says:

    I think Joe likes to taunts Buc fan and his readers by putting GMC on the picture with positive stories about this defense. Why else put this selfish over paid player on a positive story.

  8. Gerald McRuud Says:

    Player A had 29 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 22 QB hits this year. He made $3 million in 2016.

    Player B had 25 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 13 QB hits this year. He made $14 million in 2016.

    Player A: Nick Fairley.
    Player B: Gerald McRuud

  9. Buc believer Says:

    Mcruud don’t bother Joe with facts on McCoy he is not interested.

  10. Chris Says:

    St Petersburg, read my statement, not a bust, I said not a bust, but watch yesterday’s game, watch Mccoy get manhandled. He made one play, when Camp ran right into him. Not a hater to a degree of DB, but he is not worthy of a 1 or 2 pick. Those guys are suppose to be difference makers, he is not

  11. Chris Says:

    He was out of the game for stretches yesterday Bonaire, line didn’t miss a beat

  12. Chris Says:


  13. BigHogHaynes Says:

    Numbers can be flipped around to fit any number of different narratives, the only one I’m interested in is 10….10 wins gets you into the Play-offs!

  14. SB with Jameis Says:

    Shut up BigHog.

  15. Bob in valrico Says:

    averaging 11 losses a year gets you third prize.

  16. Brandon Says:

    You don’t think Gholston had anything to do with the 3rd down success rate? If he sucked on 1st and 2nd down and the team was constantly faced with 3rd and short and not the 3rd and longs that Gholston’s excellent run defense, the rate would’ve been much worse.

    Gholston’s work on 1st and 2nd down was key in how well the team fared on 3rd down.