“Gumby” Thriving But Deep In Learning Curve (With Video)

August 15th, 2017


Yes, defensive coordinator Mike Smith calls Noah Spence “Gumby.”

And when he first did, of course, Spence had no idea what he was talking about.

But Smith was able to explain that Gumby was one of his childhood toys, a bendable figure that could be twisted in all kinds of directions.

Spence’s Gumby-like ways help make him a superior pass-rushing talent, Smith said.

“He’s got great body length. He’s able to adjust and get underneath and pop back up,” Smith said of Spence. “He reminds me a lot of Michael McCrary, who we had in Baltimore in our 2000 [season]. … He’s probably about the same size. He’ll do whatever he has to. If he’s got to go underground and pop back up, he’ll go underground and pop back up.”

McCrary was an absolute stud defensive end on the Ravens’ legendary defense, a two-time Pro Bowler and a three-time, double-digit sack guy.

Smith was referring to Spence’s very low pass rush set that he often uses, and his quick movements and elusiveness. Spence has got crazy speed at times, but it’s not yet refined.

(Watch the exclusive JoeBucsFan.com video below to see Spence easily beat Jags right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi twice in a row this morning.)

Judging Spence as a pass rusher isn’t just about sacks, Smith said, it’s about the attention offenses send his way.

“We’ve got to have that bellcow rusher that people are going to say, ‘We’ve got to make sure we turn the protection to him,'” Smith said.

The Bucs don’t have that guy yet, and Spence is very raw against the run. In fact, he’s struggling there. Spence told Joe today that he earned a “C” grade from coaches in the preseason game against Cincinnati — “missed assignments and stuff against the run,” Spence said.

Mike Smith told Joe that Spence just needs reps to an effective run defender, but it will take time and his speed makes for a steeper learning curve.

“Absolutely, he’s stronghanded, he’s just got to understand leverage and the different sets that he’s going to see. Because when there’s a guy that has Noah’s type of speed, that can go up the field, he’s got to learn when they’re really setting, or when they’re just trying to run him up the field on a run play,” Smith said. “So it’s a matter of reps, and honing his skills and a skill set on putting his hands where they’re supposed to be in the run game, because he’s plenty strong enough.”

Great stuff there from Smith. So how long will it take Spence to be a three-down defensive end? Joe thinks it will be next year. The reps likely won’t be there for him this season, assuming Robert Ayers and Will Gholston, a terror against the run, stay healthy. And Spence seems to be to deep in his learning curve to win a lot of run reps early in the season.

40 Responses to ““Gumby” Thriving But Deep In Learning Curve (With Video)”

  1. Bucsfanman Says:

    Great video Joe. I agree with coach in that he’s still a little raw. His speed though, is going to play hell on opposing o-lines. He’ll get there.

  2. Big Marlon B Says:

    the thing that stands out is of course his get off, his explosiveness. but from what i’ve seen, it looks like he has great hands too. i think that will be the key for his success. everyone knows what a quick, undersized D end is going to try to do. but if he uses his hands well, and negates a strength differential by never allowing an O lineman to get his hands on him….that’s how he will make his $$$

  3. tmaxcon Says:

    We are lucky to have Spence he’s definitely the only long term keeper on dline. given the fragility and lack of production from his linemates its going to be nice to watch his success. Nice to have talent on the dline it’s been a long time since we’ve had hope a dlineman can produce when it matters most.

  4. teacherman777 Says:

    Noah Spence is legit.

    I wish we could trade for a stud DE.

    We need another pash rusher.

  5. Dewey Selmon Says:

    We have quite a few raw players. This team should be lethal for the next 7 years.

  6. Baz Says:

    Whooped. Dat. A$$. Love it Spence!!

  7. Piratic Says:

    @Big Marlon B: Great take. You can be sure DL Coach Hayes is telling him the same thing.

    @tmaxcon: You are the worst part of JBF.

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    Next year to become a 3-down DE Joe? I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a 3-down DE, unless maybe it’s someone like Caleb Campbell or JJ Watt … and both of them are about 40-50 lbs heavier than Noah. Will Gholston has more of a chance of becoming a 3-down DE than Spence does IMO.

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    Spawn is a way better nickname than Gumby.

  10. The Buc Realist Says:

    Some need to re-evaluate their impression of NS57!!!!!! He is the only consistent pass rusher that gets pressure, and last year he was already getting attention as other teams would send help to the tackles on his side!!!!!!! he does need some improvement on run prevention!!!! But this is a passing league is it not!!!!!! See who gets the big contracts, pass rushers or run stuffers!!!!!!! It is not like the rest of the D-line is superb at run stuffing!!!!!! Its funny that GMC93 is a pass rushing DT but his get off “disrupts” the run game and that is fine, But Joe is down on NS57 for the same thing???????

    In fact, before the end of the year, many will be saying, that NFL GM Jason Licht will need to find help on the Defensive line to complement Noah Spence play!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Doctor Stroud Says:

    Spence did well today. The Jags also started to double Spence in 11 on 11 drills and that unfortunately neutralized the pass rush.

  12. tmaxcon Says:


    maybe you just like pathetic players that have failed to accomplish anything of meaning. you need to raise your standards. The future is bright and the past has sucked for 15 years led by the most overrated 3rd overall pick in bucs history.

  13. unbelievable Says:

    If Spence is doubled, we SHOULD be able to get a huge rush straight up the middle….

  14. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    You gotta love his non-stop motor

  15. The Buc Realist Says:

    ‘Gumby” was a playmaker last year!!!! He sparked the defense!!!!! I think Joe and some other forget about that!!!!!!!! Maybe they just need a reminder from last year!!!!!!!!


    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Bucsfanman Says:

    @Realist- Don’t miss my homage to the “repost” on the Beckwith story. You’ll be proud!
    Also, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that NS57 is still a “work in progress”. He needs to be more than a one-trick pony and I think that’s what Smitty is saying. He looks good but with coaching, he can be even better. Scary thought, eh?

  17. GhostofTedford Says:


    I enjoy Tmaxcon’s anti-McCoy rants, it is more enjoyable watching 93 make plays and then come back here to rub it in tmaxcon’s face. And I am sure he would be the first to tell you if it means a Bucs win then he is all for it.

    I have been a big Spence fan ever since this kid grew up after his troubled Ohio stint and worked his tail off to redeem himself and enter the NFL. He has so much heart and determination to go along with his talent.

  18. Dreambig Says:

    Realist, I don’t think Joe was bashing Spence. Just pointing out that stopping the run is not his strength. Coaches are the ones who gave him a C for bengals game.

  19. Dreambig Says:

    As for stopping the run in that first preseason game, no one should get better than a C at best. Bungles ran through us. Hope to see better this week.

  20. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Realist just remember some of us that were also high on Spawn when you bump these posts later lol.

    Interesting that part (maybe most?) of his issues in the run game may be just learning when not to bite since teams know he’s a quick-twitch rusher and will try to get him moving the wrong way. That’s something that will only come with time as his instincts develop via experience. Dude has the moves & hands to do damage.

    There was another clip somewhere else of him destroying the LT with an inside move similar to this. Both would be instant sacks basically and teams aren’t going to want to leave their OTs on an island against this freak

  21. Doctor Stroud Says:

    I should add that GMC got what I consider a sack (remember no tackling the QB) and a possible touch on Bortles arm to disrupt the throw.

  22. Destinjohnny Says:

    We have some pieces.
    Would have loved to seen us use a 2 pick in this past draft on d line.
    Jordon Willis was the pick. He killed us Friday night

  23. SB Says:

    I’m Gumby dammit

  24. The Buc Realist Says:

    Lord Cornelius Says:
    August 15th, 2017 at 3:55 pm
    “Realist just remember some of us that were also high on Spawn when you bump these posts later lol.”

    You mean like this!!!!!!! OMG…………….. Its The “Realist Repost”!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Buc Realist Says:
    August 13th, 2016 at 9:40 am
    Very advanced handwork for not only a rookie, but A second round pick rookie at that!!!! Its one thing to have the ablity to be fast!!! But the hand work tells me he is serious about this and has put in some serious work!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. unbelievable Says:

    Seriously Rhealist, plenty of us were high on Spence before he was even picked, and discussed his great hands specifically.

    Steven White also had a great write up about him leading up to that draft.

    Give it a rest already man, it doesn’t make you look good. Ever.

  26. James Walker Says:

    Can we see that in a game please?

  27. tnew Says:

    I think C is a fair grade for Spence, heck Jameis was a B-. JW.. he did the outside move in several games last year. The inside move is new. We lacked push from the middle, especially late in the season. This is why 93 is needed to make the defense special. I would have graded him at about C- myself for that preseason game. I was expecting just a bit more because of how ‘unblockable’ he has been in the preseason.

  28. Rod Munch Says:

    Simeon Rice always had the rep he couldn’t play the run, which was by the middle of his career nonsense. If Spence wants to base his game and development on someone, Rice might be the guy to try to mimic. However with that said Spence is going to most likely need to put some weight back on to be a three down player – and that tradeoff of power versus quickness and speed is always going to be a difficult mix.

  29. Reach87 Says:

    Moronic to bring up McCoy on every post, regardless of subject. Anyone who goes out of their way to criticize arguably our best player is a moron, not a fan. Go Bucs!

  30. JAB83 Says:

    Im over the hype…. #TBRayssuddenlysuck

  31. GoBucYourself Says:

    Reach87 Says:
    August 15th, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Moronic to bring up McCoy on every post, regardless of subject. Anyone who goes out of their way to criticize arguably our best player is a moron, not a fan. Go Bucs!

    So you’re saying that if Spence is Gumby, McCoy is NOT Pokey?

  32. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Joe, you recall last week the hamburgler a.k.a petey king saying their was no buzz for this season of HardKnocks (lil jab at the Bucs). I read an article the other day saying viewership is up 30% from last season. I guess some have actually taken notice after all.

  33. Joe Says:

    Joe, you recall last week the hamburgler a.k.a petey king saying their was no buzz for this season of HardKnocks (lil jab at the Bucs). I read an article the other day saying viewership is up 30% from last season. I guess some have actually taken notice after all.

    Peter King has jumped the shark of being a top-shelf NFL reporter. He’s more interested in baseball games and being an activist. Peter King has to be the only guy running an NFL site that complains there is too much attention paid to the NFL. Well Pete, if that’s the case, maybe you might be better served being a baseball beat guy or working for Pocahontas Warren.

    Joe likes Peter King and he’s always been good to Joe, but geez, Joe expects much more out of an NFL guy than what King has delivered the past few months. Dude is out of touch.

  34. USFBUC Says:

    I would love for Spence to have a career like Rice. They are fairly close to the same size now with Spence being three inches shorter. Spence still has some growing he can do in the next season or two where he will get stronger and then we could have a true three down DE in Spence.

  35. Dave Pear Says:

    I saw that same article.
    Once again, you are correct sir.

  36. Bird Says:

    Sb – you are close…

    “It’s gumby not gum damnit”

  37. BucEmUo Says:

    Spence needs to play olb

  38. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    A yo thanks Dave.

  39. unbelievable Says:

    Ah, there’s Joe’s political bias and hatred of progressives that we’ve missed so much without the MCoJ…

    Planning to do another Hard Knocks open thread tonight?

  40. The Buc Realist Says:

    Here it is!!! By the end of the year, many will say that NS57 is the best D-lineman on the Bucs!!!!! They will be ask who will NFL GM Licht bring in to help NS57 to make this team a contender!!!!!!! There will be no talk of bringing in talent for the demoted leader GMC93 anymore!!!!!!!!!!!

    Its less than 48hrs till pre-season game 2!!!! And things are about to get “Real” around here!!!!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!