Primary Need

February 17th, 2018

“DeSean, if you can see a decent pass rusher out there, let me know.”

What’s a general manager to do when his biggest need isn’t available?

That’s the pinch Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht finds himself in. Regular readers here know of Joe’s absolute years-long crusade about how the Bucs need a friggin’ pass rusher. It’s just shameful how this organization hasn’t been able to find a replacement for Simeon Rice. And when they seemed to have found one (Michael Bennett), they let him walk away for no good reason.

Joe can’t begin to count the lost hours of sleep over this nonsense.

Andy Benoit of recently wrote that the Bucs have no greater need than a pass rusher.


It will be tempting to pursue a replacement for disappointing running back Doug Martin, especially considering that Charles Sims is also a free agent. But it’s far more important for the Bucs to get some teeth on a D that had no bite in 2017. This season was essentially lost when second-year end Noah Spence separated his shoulder in Week 3. He was the only edge-rushing threat; without him, Tampa’s pass rush floundered and its zone coverages were exposed. The Bucs need an infusion of pass-rushing talent to ensure a single injury doesn’t scuttle their D again. Currently, Gerald McCoy and—once or twice a game—Robert Ayers are the only forces who flash up front.

Well, here is the thing, and it is elementary football. Without a pass rush, the Bucs have their hands tied behind their back on defense. And if a team cannot play decent defense, then a team must play keep-away.

How do you play keep-away? You have a balanced offense. And the Bucs were dreadful with the run the past two seasons. If the Bucs were able to somehow get Saquon Barkley or, say, Sony Michel, then you have a run game and no longer are the Bucs a one-dimensional team.

Joe will maintain the Bucs having a one-dimensional offense last year hurt the team worse than the bum wing of America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston.

The Bucs averaged 20.9 points a game last year — with a one-dimensional offense. If the Bucs had a solid running attack, Joe thinks it is fair to expect an extra three points a game, or an average of 23.9 points a game.

Last year Minnesota was No. 10 in average scoring at 23.9 points a game. Only two teams that finished in the top 10 in average scoring missed the playoffs.

Can’t rush the quarterback? Well, a quarterback can’t hurt you if he doesn’t have the ball. A solid running game keeps the ball out of his hands. The Bucs ranked 19th in the NFL in time of possession last season. Every NFC South team was better.

36 Responses to “Primary Need”

  1. AlteredEgo Says:

    same ole chicken or the egg….

  2. Arealbucsfan Says:

    Get Michael Bennett and trade for Robert Quinn

  3. Capt Kidd Says:

    Hey Joe,
    you need to dig around and give us some info on Noah Spence’s surgery. What I mean is, I believe he had shoulder surgery last offseason too and it didn’t work well and the repair didn’t last.

    Is he having the same surgery all over again, or are they doing something different to make sure the shoulder is actually sound? I’d love to see him light it up, but I’m afraid he’ll spend his career on injured reserve with a continually bum shoulder.

  4. darin Says:

    Spot on. They must be balanced. Also must draft a couple, if not 3 D linemen. I hope they get some O linemen in free agency too. The explosive plan backfired. Lets get physical and beat them up. I hope Licht takes a long look at what coughlin amd marrone are doing in jax. That team shows up and whoops em. Dirk needs to pick up that big effin stick that he put in the closet last training camp and swing the thing.

  5. Bnomo Says:

    How did the Bucs win that Super Bowl, how many, many years ago????? It was defense, defense, defense….. Putting pressure on opposing Q B’s, stopping the run….. If you can’t stop the other teams offense?

  6. Mike Johnson Says:

    Nah..go ahead get a running back or O-lineman with the 1st pick. Besides its the..Buc-WAY!!

  7. Tom Says:

    I believe where the draft is the weakest thats where FA comes into play.

  8. DR FEELGOOD Says:

    I have faith in Light to draft a quality edge rusher in the second round. He succeeded with Spence, but he’s been hurt. Couldn’t have seen that coming unless there was a prior history of it that I’m unaware of. I am confident that we will have another 4 quality starters (like last year and the Winston draft) after this draft by not reaching in round one. We can get a quality OL, DE, DB, and RB in rounds 1-4, especially as highly as we are picking. Joe has documented on this site many times how many quality DEs we have passed on in rounds 2-3 over the last few years. I believe this year the final pieces to a wrong puzzle will be in place. How fast that comes to fruition, only time will tell. But I can easily see is being Saints 2.0 in 2019. Go Bucs!

  9. Hodad Says:

    Joe is as delusional as Licht, when was Noah Spence a pass rushing threat? He’s a BUST!! Two surgeries in two years, some threat. A career that never began is probably over yet some fans including Joe think he’s a pass rushing threat. LoL!

  10. Conte Piscatelli Says:

    Guess what? Drafting a defensive end in the top ten isn’t the only way to get a pass rush. Our last pass rushing end Micheal Bennett wasn’t a top ten pick. There are numerous teams that don’t even have a pass rush end on the roster, opting for rush linebackers. Don’t reach just because you need a defensive end.

  11. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    So we’ve reached a point of consensus on JBF…a real rarity. LMAO

    We ALL agree that our woeful attempts at even moving a QB off his spot have damaged the team more than any other single problem, and like all teams we have several problems but NONE worse or more important than our inability to apply pressure to the QB.

    I’m not necessary talking about stats and sacks here. As far as stats batted passes thrill me almost as much as sacks. You don’t get the lost yardage of a sack but at least there is no way a JJ can catch a Matty Ice pass if you bat it down.

    But our eyeballs did not fail us. QB’s were just too comfortable in the pocket.

    So immediately we blame our selection of DE’s. We’ve tried and failed miserably. Gaines Adams is exhibit A but there are several other attempts that failed.

    DE’s do not grow on trees. They are the SECOND MOST VALUABLE position on any NFL team if you believe in show me the money. They GET the big $$$

    Here is an interesting chart from Business Insider that shows exactly how the positions are valued by salary and the DE’s are right behind the QB’s at the elite level and average more than everybody except QB’s and WR’s even when they are simply serviceable.

    IE…I’m all for spending as much draft capital on DE’s as we can hoping for one or two to pan out. But again history shows they do not usually produce in year one.

    I certainly understand Hodad’s point about availability being the greatest ability.

    But he is totally mistaken in Spence’s actual ability. He was judged better than Bosa by OSU people when he was still with the Buckeyes. He had 5.5 sacks his rookie year playing with an incredibly painful shoulder strapped in a brace.

    When the Bucs joined Jax for that dual practice this past summer Spence was the talk of those two days including praise from Jax players who see great defense everyday. Sim Rice spoke highly of him.

    Spence IS the real deal IF he’s healthy. And I’m tired of all the size..out of position BS. He has gifts and if he’s used properly he could easily produce double digit sacks or at least create a little fear in opposing QB’s.

    He’s is pretty much our ONLY hope for next year unless Licht discovers a miracle in the draft…a DE…second most valuable position on the team…who is unusually ready to contribute in year one.

    The ONLY other hope I see is if Smitty totally recalculates his D and turns LVD loose. He has the ability to blitz and scare the QB as well.

  12. Pickgrin Says:

    How can a story like this contain no mention whatsoever of the run blocking struggles suffered by the Bucs OLine??

    Quit playing ostrich on this issue Joe.

    We need 2 new starting Guards. Or 1 Guard and 1 Center if Marpet goes back to RG.

    Evan Smith outplayed both our “starting” guards in 2017 so we basically have 3 back up level talents trying to fill 2 starting positions on either side of Marpet.

    Evan Smith should be re-signed as an experienced and versatile back-up. Sweezy should be released and Pamphile should only be re-signed if he is willing to accept back-up $. No more than $4M per and even that level is only because he’s still young and you hope he can improve based on seeing good things in 2016. Kevin had his chance to earn a big contract last year and blew it.

    Need to sign a high quality starting Guard or Center in free agency and then (since Chubb will be gone) draft Nelson in rd 1. Problem solved permanently! Finding a young RT and/or upgrading LT is then the only OL consideration you even have to think about for the next few years…

  13. c-spann Says:

    Get kony ealy and give Greg Hardy a 1 yr prove it deal

  14. Duke Says:


    Excellent points. The fact is finding a NFL style DE is hard. The fact is its going to get even more difficult starting this draft and into the near future
    So team’s will have to find that needle in a haystack and pay a premium when they do….


    Go towards the trend and look for haystacks not needles.
    Adaptation to the draft environment is easier than the alternative.

  15. ManzielMadness Says:

    Two most important positions… a QB and someone to take down the QB. And the third… a line to protect your QB.

  16. NFLNut Says:

    Cut Gholston and sign a DE, any DE that had at least 1 sack last year and can be effective at least against the run … then trade the #7 for the #21 and #22 and draft both Arden Key and Marcus Davenport … problem solved … and yes, I made that sound far too easy 🙂

  17. Duke Says:


    Too dangerous. One will be off the board for sure , 50-50 both will.
    Keep 7 give up next year’s #2 and a Bern’ s gift certificate along with a bucket of strip club currency. Tampa’ s best asset is never leveraged properly it’s time to enlist the legions of future dentists and lawyers to the Bucs nation.

  18. Tbbucs3 Says:

    I think its obvious that round 1 in the draft you go BPA available out of the RBs and DEs. Or trade up to get Lichts “guy” if he has one.

  19. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    I notice you do not mention Vita Vea. Are you not a fan of his or do you simply believe we have no shot at him except with a 7 which perhaps is too high?

  20. Tony from Los Angeles Says:

    Everything that is wrong with the Bucs’ mindset is found in one simple two word statement in this article:


    Why does that not say “pass rusherS”!!!!!!!

    Every good pass rushing team has an arsenal of pass rusherS that they rotate in the game to keep a constant barrage on the opposing QB. If the Bucs try to fix this with a single pick or signing then everyone at One Buc Place deserves to be unemployed. Period.

    The Bucs have to go all in and bring in a bunch of guys to compete on the D-line – MORE THAN ONE!!

    Such nonsense and so friggin’ elementary. This isn’t rocket science…


  21. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “Can’t rush the quarterback? Well, a quarterback can’t hurt you if he doesn’t have the ball. A solid running game keeps the ball out of his hands.” Apples & oranges Joe … ask New Orleans.

    Three years in a row (2014-2016) they finished with identical 7-9 records because: (1) their defense sucked (ranked #31, #31, #27 during that period); and (2) their running game sucked too (ranked #29, #31, #14 during that period). Last year they (1) improved their defense (#17 ranking); and (2) their run game (#16 ranking) … and improved to 11-5. Coincidence that they improved BOTH their defense AND their run game AND finished atop the NFC South? I think not. Their time-of-possession actually DECREASED in 2017 (30:33 TOP) from 2016 (30:56 TOP) and from 2015 (31:20 TOP). IOW, the opposing QBs had the ball in their hands MORE in 2017.

  22. Kobe Faker Says:

    Pick best player available

    chubbs or fitzpatrick

    “I will guarantee you, Doug Martin will be back next year as a Buccaneer under a restructured contract ”

    Kobe Faker

  23. WutdaBucisthis Says:

    Joe your always harping on the fact we had a top 5 offense. Moving the ball is not the problem Joe… RZ scoring IS though. Run, pass, I could give 2 sh!ts! Just find a way to win. I’m tired of the losing

  24. B Coburn Says:

    Yup keep away only helps if you can actually score and stop the other team. No matter how long or short your drives are they still get a chance to respond. Keeping the ball away fro, the other qb has always been a bit of oversimplified I. That sense both teams get the same numbers of drives plus or minus one, but it certainly does help take away their momentum, give you some, and let your defence rest. So a running game will help the defence, but so will addressing the pass rush. Why not both? On offense we just need to stop stalling and get tds, mot fgs. hopefully if we improve d they ill score less and with a balanced attack we become less predictable in red zone and score more

  25. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe, I didn’t realize that Carolina’s DE Mario Addison was so light (he’s listed as 6’2″ & 239 lbs). Really an interesting development: Undrafted in 2011, spent time first 2 yrs with the Bears, Colts, Redskins before latching on with Carolina in 2012. Didn’t do anything much in 2011 & 2012 (1 sack each year) & only had 2.5 sacks in 2013. But after that … Wow. 2014 (6.5 sacks); 2015 (6 sacks); 2016 (9.5 sacks); 2017 (11 sacks). For someone who’s smallish for a DE AND who started pretty slow (1st 3 yrs), he’s really picked it up big time. He’s not a FA, but his sounds like an interesting path from Undrafted to big-time contributor.

  26. JimmyJack Says:

    The shame of it all is that we still need to invest in the running game. They have spent 4 off seasons building the offense and still aren’t done.

    The biggest b!tch I still have is last year splurging on DJax which did nothing to improve any of the four main phases of the game. There seems to be a complete disconnect between what the HC needs and how our GM approaches free agency/draft.

    Well now their poor decisions have given them weaknesses that smack them right in the face. Our passrush blows, any novice fan can see it. Problem is we need our evaluators and GM to see things more clearly then a novice fan.

    Now their left stuck with no passrush and a bleak free agent and draft class.

    I’m beginning to feel like the complete ignorance of this teams passrush had something to do with Warhop. It seems very telling that they haven’t replaced him yet. Sure sounds like they had no intentions of replacing the Dline coach or they would have had his replacement ready to roll…….or would have transitioned much sooner when there were more options.

  27. Rod Munch Says:

    Actually the best edge rusher on the team is David, but Mike Smith wanted him sitting back in coverage. That’s one of the more frustrating things, David is sitting there, has a great track record of getting pressure when he’s coming from the edge, but the team doesn’t use him that way. David is also one of the best coverage LBs in football, so I get that as well, but I’d think the goal should be mixing it up. For those that say the Bucs did blitz my question (and it’s a real question I don’t know the answer) is how often was David sent from the edge – not up the gut – and if the Bucs did do that how often were the corners standing 15 yards off the LOS so the QB could just toss the ball out to the WR standing wide open? I don’t recall seeing David blitz all that often and seemingly when he did they had him coming up the gut – which is OK if it was mixed up, meaning up the gut and from the edge.

    Anywho change the scheme, you have 4 LBs in David, Spence, Kwon and Beckwith, and I’d certainly put Spence as a stand-up guy when he’s constantly wanting to lose weight instead of bulking up. I’d also bring back Jacques Smith if he’s healthy – and before you panic, no I’m not saying to plan on him playing, I’m just saying I’d bring him back and let him compete and see what happens. Jacques is another guy who could play off the edge and got fantastic production when healthy. Finally I’d keep Chris Baker for now and let him know if he comes to camp and still is lazy then I’d wait until the last moment to cut him to make sure it’s difficult for him to get another job. If I understand Baker’s contract correctly the Bucs can pretty much cut him right up until week 1 without taking any hit, so in that case I’d bring him back – unless the Bucs actually spend in FA and need that money, but I doubt they spend that much.

  28. JimmyJack Says:

    And I’m sorry but I blame Dirk for a lot of this. Being a fan all we can do is speculate and my senses tell me that Licht uses input from his HC when deciding how to approach free agency.

    Licht has to has most of the blame since he signs the contact but I highly doubt Dirk wasn’t telling him that signing DJax would do wonders for his offense. I highly doubt Licht acted alone thinking Martin would bounce back. I highly doubt Licht solely decided that we needed to adress the DT position and that we were fine at DE.

    It takes more then just a GM to properly build and run a team. He has to have a coaching and evaluating staff that has a good pulse on their team and knows exactly with positions need to be adressed and what types of players to target.

    It’s one thing to sign a player that doesn’t live up to expectations. But it goes much deeper when you spend huge money on a WR who brings what was expected and it makes no impact…..or you misevaluation your own players……or you adress positions that were lesser needs then those you don’t address.

    This team is getting built wrong and the problem is much more then the GM

  29. JimmyJack Says:

    Hey Munch……I agree you keep Jac Smith. And that’s actually really freaking sad because the guy is one of the most unreliable players this franchise has seen.

    But the sad fact is that we are completely void of talent at his position so we’re kinda forced to hold him. We just can not afford to let any talent go from that position no matter how unreliable it may be.

  30. denjoe Says:

    Trade up or take Davenport, Do something Jason, you put us in this mess!

  31. Alaskabuc Says:

    Find someone to trade back with and take Key or Davenport at a better place and use the extra ammo to make sure we lock down Sony.

  32. Joe Says:

    Is he having the same surgery all over again, or are they doing something different to make sure the shoulder is actually sound?

    Bucs aren’t offering medical specifics but was told surgery a success. How you define “success” is a different issue.

  33. USFBUC Says:

    Defensive line is bad, Linebackers are good, true 43 Defensive ends are only going to get tougher to find…why is it that “smart” NFL guys can’t see the writing on the wall and are trying to fix what everyone already knows can’t be fixed?

  34. Joe Says:

    Find someone to trade back with and take Key

    Everything Joe hears is this Key character is bad news. Really poison.

  35. Reach87 Says:

    If we don’t deal with our defensive line we will be sorry. Scheme changes won’t help consistently…you can’t blitz and twist all the time…you’ll mostly get torched in the NFL. IMO we need at least 3 defensive line positions to increase production. Can happen by someone on the team emerging, the draft, and or free agency. In fact I would consider using all 3 sources because the draft and (unless its a mega-deal) free agency are risky. With that increased production you can scheme up some games and blitzes that can get you off the field when it matters. IMO it starts with the players. We can get it done starting in the draft. Go Bucs!

  36. Destinjohnny Says: