How Good Was The D-Line Coaching?

January 17th, 2017

Body of work raises questions

When the Bucs hired former Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes, it was billed as a major coup because of Hayes’ reputation and resumé.

But how did he perform?

That’s hard to say definitively from world headquarters:

On the negative side, Gerald McCoy didn’t improve, Clinton McDonald wasn’t his best, and Will Gholston and Akeem Spence didn’t have breakthrough seasons in their contract years. Gholston did not advance as a pass rusher.

On the positive side, Hayes had the rookies very ready to play. Noah Spence came on and played successfully through a shoulder injury. Undrafted Channing Ward and DaVonte Lambert were thrust into starting roles (six starts combined) and hung in there, brutal duty for guys who got little preseason work.

Robert Ayers was Robert Ayers, the same versatile player he was with the Giants in 2015.

As a whole, the Bucs’ run defense was worse than last season, but that’s certainly not all on the D-line.

Joe’s broader point here is not how Hayes performed, but how Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith evaluate his performance.

If they think Hayes did a great job and got the most out of his players, then Joe’s not sure why the Bucs would re-sign Gholston to a fat contract. In that scenario, Gholston, a four-year veteran, would be perceived as playing at his ceiling — part-time player/A+ run stuffer. A guy like that just isn’t worth a huge contract in the NFL, especially if Hayes is viewed as a molder of young talent.

Again, in the above scenario representing the Bucs’ mindset, Hayes might be better off with rookies and another veteran free agent like manbeast superstar Calais Campbell.

If it’s a choice between paying Campbell $10 million a year and paying Gholston $6 million, then that should be a very easy decision.

Of course, Smith and Koetter might be lukewarm on the job Hayes did last season, his 18th in the NFL. And that would create a whole new set of questions.

16 Responses to “How Good Was The D-Line Coaching?”

  1. Bucsfanman Says:

    Campbell>Gholston ALL DAY, E’ry DAY!

    For me, the jury’s out on this one. There were way too many injuries and the defense as a whole didn’t play well until halfway through the season. To the eyes, the defense looked better. Of course, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement considering how awful the D was prior!

  2. uckinator Says:

    With the exception of a few quarterbacks & running backs, more games are won or lost, than on the defensive line. When the opposing quarterback is going to the sideline looking out his earhole, only good things can happen. No Brainer; Calais Campbell will fit nicely next to GMC. Imaging the smile on Gerald’s face when he hears who his next door teammate is going to be. Not only a game changer, but a season changer. We have the money; Wine and Dine him !

  3. cmurda Says:

    The D Line was not that good. Let’s be honest Joe. That’s not a coaching problem. It’s a talent problem. Will Gholston was sub-par and should only be re-signed for depth purposes, if at all. With the exception of an aging Robert Ayers, we have no talent at DE to go along with Noah Spence. This is our glaring need on defense.

    With that said, you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. IMO Jay Hayes is a very good coach and ready to be a DC in just a few years.

  4. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Ward & Lambert were terrible every time I watched them. The best thing they did was hold up OK sometimes in run support; but they might as well have jogged to the sideline on passing downs because they were just a body out there doing nothing but making a blocker look good for 5-10 seconds.

    Seeing those guys play is what made me realize we have sh1t for depth on the D- line especially at DT. That is not a position you want to start undrafted rookies and a position where you typically never seen late rounders or undrafted guys balling early in their careers. If they aren’t a blue chip prospect it usually takes years to develop them into just a decent starter.

    DT would be my #1 need on the defense; only because I believe so much in the front 7 >> secondary philosophy of building an elite D. Get a guy who can be an every down beast with McCoy disrupting both run / pass; and have McDonald play as a rotational player since he has thrived in that role in the past with Seattle.

    “If it’s a choice between paying Campbell $10 million a year and paying Gholston $6 million, then that should be a very easy decision.”

    Interesting thought… Gholston is 5 years younger but lacks the sack production (3 sack kind of guy vs Campbell averaging ~7 the last 3 years). They have similar run production. So you’re paying about $4 mill more per year for a guy that could decline any day banking on an extra 4 sacks for the year and more pressure in general.

    Campbell plays DE in a 3-4 though; and is more of a DT in our D if I had to guess – dude is 300 lbs. Would he even play DE here?

  5. Kevin Says:

    The guy is proven….guve him time and better players

  6. martinii Says:

    I agree with Kevin, Hayes did a great job considering the injuries, rookie development. He needs more talent another year with Smitty and we will be worried about losing him to an HC job. I think Campbell is a special player and would love to see him line up as a DT next to McCoy, but I also really like our home drone Gholston. He has played his butt off for the Bucs. I would like to see Dontari Poe thrown into the mix. Less $ than Campbell (30), 26 years old, Chiefs are strapped for Cap with Eric Berry. There may be some opportunities for teams with big bucks.

  7. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    Injuries were a bit of a wild card for this discussion. GMC missed some action…Ayers missed a few games but the saddest story of all is Jack Smith.

    If this guy could only stay on the field he could have helped a lot with our pass rush. Yeah I know he’s a bit one dimensional being weak on the run but when he plays he’s been one of our most effective pass rushers.

    Anybody know of a player who missed most of two seasons yet still came back and played strong? Is there any hope at all for Jack Smith. He’ like gravy if we could get him healthy.

  8. 1nebuc Says:


    Do none of you recall our secondary last year . Its obvious When you stop a team from getting 600 yards in the air they may run the ball more often. Learn football and pick your complainants. Our run defense was so good last year because ………… The only time they ran the ball on us was the last 3 minutes of the game . This might be the most unnecessary article I have read on here .

  9. Rrsrq Says:

    Campbell plays a 3-4 in Arizona, but it has been a while but he played in. 4-3 at the U

  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Hayes is one of the best. If he could not get things going, it was because of talent. Not him.

  11. salish_seamonster Says:

    Let’s not forget the injuries. And the talent is just not there yet. We need another manbeast DT and more DEs that aren’t one-dimensional. Our only proven DE that can play the run and pass is Ayers.

  12. Blake_Bucsfan Says:

    Didnt our sack totals get better from last year?

  13. Trubucfan22 Says:

    I thought the dline did well this season. Injuries plagued us all season. Jac smith was hurt all year, clint McDonald was hurt a good portion. Noah Spence had the shoulder injury most of the year. Ayers missed a couple games. McCoy did also. Injuries are frequent for d lineman, so this isn’t an excuse. But just a reality. The depth we have on thw d line is not very good. Behind mccoy and McDonald there is not a DT worth a damn. DE we have a lot of bodies, but very few playmakers. Ayers is good, but not a great player. Pretty average production wise. We need some more top shelf meat on the d line.

    It is crazy when i think about where our top picks have gone. In recent years, Hargreaves, winston, Evans. And even further back ones like Martin, Barron, and a first round pick we sent to the jets for Revis. We rarely use top picks on lineman. O or D. I think that is a mistake. We need some elite talent rushing the passer and clogging up running lanes. All of those great player we’ve passed on in the first round with all of the high draft picks we’ve had. And not much to show for it. That revis trade was so damn stupid. 1st round pick for a 1 year rental. Well i guess the trade was ok. The cutting of Revis was the idiotic part.

  14. Owlykat Says:

    We need Goldston to stop the runs and hold the perimeter on the left side. We need Ayres back to provide pass rush and to stop the run to the right and hold the perimeter, and a big run stopper like Campbell who can penetrate and get some sacks too. Spence and Smith give us speed rushers, and keep McDonald and one other proven backup DT. We keep Hayes to be our next DC and McCoy to penetrate and get sacks and pressures and occupy a double team.

  15. SOEbuc Says:

    Schmitty said it would take about 6-7 weeks to catch on to his scheme. I won’t forget the game that we shut down Seattle (5 sacks on Wilson?) around that time. That was right after we started the streak. Our secondary was amazing the rest of the year and you can’t do that without a good to very good D line.

  16. loggedontosay Says:

    McCoy is the problem.