Shining Light Ryan Russell

February 19th, 2018

Yes, this really happened.

It’s a little challenging to figure out where the growth was on the Buccaneers’ defensive line last season, not counting the waistline and bank account of Chris “Swaggy” Baker. 

Many guys got worse on the stat sheet individually, while the Bucs’ defense went from first to worst on third downs. That’s right. Tampa Bay was the best in the business on third down in 2016. Also, the Bucs’ run defense fell off considerably last season, even with a strong corps of linebackers.

So where is the hope on the D-line?

Joe can’t answer that, but Joe can try to look deeper at Ryan Russell, who was a favorite of recently-fired Bucs defensive line coach Jay Hayes. And Dirk Koetter recently offered a glimmer of hope on 26-year-old Russell, who was a Cowboys fifth-round pick in 2016.

Jason Licht signed him to the Bucs’ practice squad in December of 2016, and Russell has been climbing the ranks.

He made seven starts last season, very valuable reps for a young guy who had never started previously, and he finished with two sacks. Both came in the final two games of the season.

Speaking on the Buccaneers Radio Network in his season-ending appearance, Koetter noted that Russell, who played in 14 games, was hurt for a good chunk of the year. So perhaps Russell was beginning to blossom as the season closed?

At 6-5, 275 pounds, he is a specimen and the NFL has seen plenty of late-blooming DEs. Joe suspects Russell will get slapped with a restricted free agent tender and get a shot to compete and continue to grow under whoever is the new D-line coach.

Joe is confident this post won’t inspire fans on this beautiful afternoon. But at least Russell is a young guy who finished on a high note.

23 Responses to “Shining Light Ryan Russell”

  1. WutdaBucisthis Says:

    Sorry Joe…meh
    Another injured player, oh boy. Let’s see. 7 starts, 2 sacks…No thanks
    Stop settling

  2. AlteredEgo Says:

    Hope springs eternal….

  3. Buccaneer Bill Says:

    Let’s take solace where we find it. He has flashed from time to time.

  4. Wausa Says:

    I’d be happy if he had a 4 sack season.
    He’s a rotational guy that deserves to be in the NFL, but you’re in trouble if he is a starter.

  5. Mr. Ed Says:

    I feel perspired

  6. Owlykat Says:

    He has good size if we stay in a 4-3 Defense and he flashed the only times he was playing with no injuries. Keep him on the roster for preseason and we’ll see how he looks with more reps and if he can avoid injuries now.

  7. AlteredEgo Says:

    This is how you build a team…not a annual FA high profile name chase your tail marathon….Shelton Quarles is a perfect example…..

  8. Reach87 Says:

    Lets hope he stays healthy and makes plays for us next year (vice throwing him on the scrap heap). Go Bucs!

  9. 813bucboi Says:

    DEVELOP HIM!!!!!!

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    You’re exactly right Joe … “at least Russell is a young guy who finished on a high note.” More than can be said for a number of others on the DLine. If I were evaluating who to keep at this point, then GMC, Russell, Gholston, Clarke & Spence would be the only 4 under contract (Ayers is still a ‘maybe’ in my book … he might be too far over-the-hill at this point in his career). I’d re-sign Clinton McDonald in a heartbeat, but that’s only 6 out of the 10 that a DLine should carry IMO. We’d still need 2 DEs & 2 DTs … grabbed from either FA or the draft or both. That’s a lot of beef to be needing, particularly when we also need a RB, LG, SS & 2 CBs as a minimum to be competitive in the NFC South.

  11. GhostofSchiano Says:

    I feel expired, especially in the morning…..before coffee.

  12. BucEmUp Says:


  13. Rod Munch Says:

    What in the world happened to Howard Jones? The guy had 5 sacks in 2015 and looked great doing it – like they weren’t fluke sacks, he earned him – then he falls off the face of the earth.

  14. Easy Says:

    He’s a solid depth player…wait, we have no depth on the defensive line. He’s a solid rotational player

  15. dmatt Says:

    R u serious!!! We’ll put all our hope in this fluke of a player. When r we gonna get aggressive n bring in top tier players at DE. The time is now to go big for players such as DLawrence, Ansah, MBennett. Russell is a joke hes nothing close to the aforementioned DEs I named.

  16. NFLNut Says:


    I think Swaggy and Gholston should be cut and that Spawn and Russell should be our backup DE’s … we still need TWO starting-quality DEs though!


  17. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    dmatt Says
    “R u serious!!! We’ll put all our hope in this fluke of a player.”

    No one said ALL but you. He’s a developmental player, which means DEPTH. And you have not seen enough to know if he will be good or not.

  18. Bird Says:

    By shining light

    Do you mean the light the size of a small flashlight that is running out of battery life so it is beginning to flicker ?

    I guess when there is no one you have to hang on to some pipe dream.

  19. Not there yet Says:

    If they don’t keep him we’ll get to see how good he is as soon as he signs on another team

  20. BucsShatTheField Says:

    Wow Joe thank you so much for giving us bucs fans all this hope!! I feel like this team can make a run at the Lombardi trophy, just like the Eagles!

  21. Capt.Tim Says:

    Ryan Russell and Will Clarke both showed growth.
    They should both make major progress over the Summer.

    Everyone wants to spend major money on other teams castoff- who are either damaged goods or attitude problems.
    Calais Campbell is one in a hundred. Always a good guy and tireless worker.
    Teams are hunting good DEs, not cutting them.

    You wanna draft a DE? Be prepared for him to take 3-4 years to develop.
    And this team is always bad, and cant ever wait 3-4 years. Coaches jobs are always on in danger, if the are with the Bucs.

    They cut Adrian Clayborn, and sign guys like Robert Ayers.
    Adrian took 4 years to develop- and has been a decent starter ever since.
    Hes far better than any Buc DE.
    With Ayers, we got one”ok” year, then absolutely nothing ever since

    The Cowboys will almost certainly franchise Lawrence. Detroit will probably resign Ansah. But even if they dont- those guys will be looking for a team that makes them some playoff money.
    And that damn sure isnt the wretched Bucs.

    We need to sign a stopgap guy. Draft a good DE, and a good Project, and coach them up.

    Then Start Russell and Clarke- and hope they keep improving

  22. Realbucfan941 Says:

    Well, they can start by not having him cover wheel routes anymore!!

  23. SOEbuc Says:

    I like Will Clarke and Ryan Russell but when he gets props from the recently fired Jay Hayes and Coach Koetter that kept Doug Martin as his starting RB until the end of the season when he was obviously not worthy the entire season after suspension and actually the year before also. Like I said I like those guys but it’s just funny too me.