Bad Fit For Noah Spence

February 28th, 2019

New position.

Hey, have you heard the latest about Noah Spence? You know, the defensive end who the Bucs placed in the witness protection program last year?

Once a promising edge rusher and a 2016 second-round pick, Spence fell off the map so badly that when the Bucs were on their way to recording the worst defense in NFL history, Spence couldn’t even get on the field to retrieve the kicking tee after kickoffs like teams used to have dogs and coaches’ little boys do.

Spence was literally invisible, a shocking fall for a guy who initially looked to be the Bucs’ pass rushing specialist for years to come.

Yesterday in speaking with Bucs reporters at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis, Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht sure hinted Mike Smith’s defense was a square peg to Spence’s round hole of skillset.

“Sometimes, coaching schemes, what they want in a particular player whether it is size and length may have something to do with that,” Licht said of Spence falling off the face of the earth. “Noah is built more as a sub-rusher in a 4-3, a rush end. But a 3-4 opens a lot of doors for him. That’s where his athleticism and everything fits better. He may have a rebirth here as a linebacker.”

Yes, you read that right. Spence will be a linebacker in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ three-man scheme.

If Spence shows any form of life this season, all you need to know about why the Bucs are stuck in Buccaneers Cove (last place in the NFC South) will be answered right there.

Joe just finds it breathtaking it took the team three years to figure out Spence is a linebacker, not a defensive end.

45 Responses to “Bad Fit For Noah Spence”

  1. AlteredEgo Says:

    I just remember watching him play most of the last preseason game against the type of OLmen that typically play in the last preseason games……nothing out of Spence..

  2. Joeypoppems Says:

    I agree that Spence will have a better chance to succeed as a LB. They still need to draft a pass rusher early tho

  3. BetterBucFan Says:

    Another Licht second round bust. Nothing new to see here.

  4. Not there yet Says:

    The problem is the general manager should have realized it before the draft.

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    I wouldn’t have an issue with this, except to say that with all the injuries to LBs last year, he wasn’t even considered to substitute. With all the supposed ‘talent” we seem to think he has, I would think that his talent would supersede the technique needed for a different position. And, in conjunction with our awful defense?!
    I would absolutely love for this guy to prove me wrong but, I just don’t see it. IMO, you either ARE a football player or you’re NOT.

  6. BucEmUp 7 Says:

    This is funny. How long have some ofnus been screaming for this to happen lol?


  7. Lord Cornelius Says:

    This makes me CRAZY.

    Spence was drafted April 2016…

    Mike Smith was hired January 2016…

    What in the f*ck man.


    The Vernon Hargreaves pick made a lot of sense to me as a Mike Smith influenced selection. We know for a fact Dirk Koetter didn’t give 2 f*cks about even understanding our defense.


    We know he can’t blame Aguayo on Smith lol. Maybe the Glazers. Either way what a joke of an organization.


  8. '79Defense Says:

    “Spence was literally invisible…” That should have made headlines around the world.

  9. catcard202 Says:

    Spence fits a SOLB role, opposite the JACK OLB in Bowles system.
    (JPP will see JACK package responsibilities in 2019.)

    The ideal situation would be for UK OLB J.Allen to slide to 5…But that will only happen if 2 QB needy teams fall in love & over-pay to get into top 4.

  10. Ateonetree Says:

    BRIAN BURNS is the pass rushing outside linebacker we need!!!!

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    See Lord Corn, this is the garbage I’m talking about. We continually draft players year after year without fully vetting them in conjunction with the system or our needs. Scouts saw the shiny object of “edge-rusher” and didn’t bother to peel back the layers.
    This also goes to the coaching staff who should’ve been able to tell that the kid was too light to play DE.
    This team better not screw up pick #5 this year!

  12. tnew Says:

    Let’s not be so revisionist. Spence was widely considered a top 15 talent with off field issues in what has turned out to be a hit and miss draft. I could make a stronger argument about VHIII being a worse pick but rolling the dice on Spence in round 2 made sense and was truly understandable. Choosing Aguayo or any kicker was horrid. But Spence was a good pick at the time. He looked really good as a rookie until the Bucs decided it was wise to turn him into a full-time 4-3 DE. In his second preseason, they had him playing nearly exclusively on running downs. I think the new staff will be better at putting players in positions to succeed. All being said, anything positive that comes from Spence at this point is a huge win.

  13. Stanglassman Says:

    Shouldn’t the headline be good fit for NS since we move forward it time and that’s what Jason said.

  14. Darin Says:

    The worst coaching staff of all time has left the building guys. Alot will be told by seeing the final cuts and the first couple games. Almost every player in the league plays better in an aggressive scheme. Grimes being one of the few. The defense and oline are gona get back to looking good just by eliminating the passiveness.

  15. EvolvingBucsfan Says:

    At least he had a year plus to fully recover from his shoulder surgery.

    Another top talent drafted that seemed to regress under the last regime. First year he looked good with lots of promise playing through injury. The second year he got hurt and another surgery to fix the last one and then last year they didn’t play him enough but what he did show was nothing special.

  16. D-Rome Says:

    One would think Backstabbin’ Jason Licht would have had, you know, a conversation with the coaching staff about what kind of player they want before drafting him.

  17. DBS Says:

    So explain all the people that were on this very site clamoring to draft this guy. Where are they now? You want to pin it all on Licht but don’t act like he was alone in wanting this guy in Tampa. Tons of fans did too. Just now they don’t admit it or won’t show their faces.

  18. Lord Cornelius Says:

    The only way Licht should get a pass for sh1t like this is if Mike Smith was all aboard the Noah Spence train but had a terrible developmental plan for him and didn’t adapt at all in putting him in position to succeed.

    Very possible. Spence’s best year was as a rookie. At DE especially – you typically don’t see their best seasons as a rookie. It’s almost always an upward trajectory toward better play for DL after year 1. That points to a lack of development and the staff didn’t seem to have any plan/care as to his weight plans in the offseason.

    I duno man. Just sad sh1t to read.

  19. Joe Says:

    Shouldn’t the headline be good fit for NS since we move forward it time and that’s what Jason said.

    No. The story is the Bucs determined DE was a bad fit — after three years.

    We do not know if OLB will be a good fit for Spence. He hasn’t played there yet.

  20. joestang Says:

    Licht is an idiot, sick of his dribble. Licht is so clueless I can’t believe he is still employed.

  21. Lord Cornelius Says:


    I was all for Spence. Especially reading detailed scouting breakdowns I thought he was a steal in R2.

    His rookie season did nothing to make me think he was a bad pick. If anything he looked like most good pass rushers did their rookie years – flashing and making plays but being inconsistent.

    He had 5.5 sacks / 3 FF / 2 passes defended. That’s very solid for a rotational rookie on the line.

    The confusion is why did he fall off a cliff the next 2 years? Under a coordinator who was here when we drafted him and saw his rookie production/ability?

    Sh1t just doesn’t add up. At all.

  22. unbelievable Says:

    “breathtaking”… that’s one word for it… lol

  23. unbelievable Says:

    Agreed tnew… the consensus was that he was the best pure pass rusher in that year’s draft. He was 1st round talent with some off-field questions according to pretty much everyone.

    If there was no communication with M Smith about the selection, well that’s just dumb as rocks.

    I think they believed they would be able to beef him up another 20 – 30 lbs to make him more durable, and they were wrong. Some people’s bodies only have so much room for physical growth, before they lose their effectiveness.

  24. Trench War Says:

    At least decisions are being made to try to get the best out of our own players first. Put them into positions where they could succeed and if he can’t catch on to a tailored position then it’s time to move on. I would like for the Bucs to also pursue Ziggy Ansah as well. That would fortify the dline and allow us to possibly draft another LB, CB, RG, DE first.

  25. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Lord C is 100% absolutely, positively correct……and don’t go blaming this pick on Jason Licht……(he can be blamed for several)…..but not this pick….

    The word when we picked him in round 2 was (steal)……there were serious concerns about his off-field behavior….but his ability and talent were unquestioned……
    He started out strong with us and looked great….injury hit and he hasn’t been the same since he came back….
    He has been totally mishandled.
    Watch him break out next year…
    He has worked very hard and his off-field has been no problem

  26. 813bucboi Says:

    yet some still refuse to believe that the lack of coaching and outdated scheme ruined so many players…..some folks think every player licht drafts doesnt have talent….lol…

    we have enough talent on this roster to make the playoffs….the coaching and scheme were lacking….

    BA will show dirk, smitty and others we dont have 5-11 talent…we had 5-11 coaching….


  27. 813bucboi Says:


    i agree….

    imo, many players regressed under smitty…..vets included….


  28. Brandon Says:

    Joe just finds it breathtaking it took the team three years to figure out Spence is a linebacker, not a defensive end.

    Yes, a LB in a 3-4 but not a 4-3. He would be a DE in the nickle or possibly the RDE if he really got it in the 4-3, but in the 3-4 he can play either side on any down.

  29. lewis Says:

    This sight needs to changed its culture as well as the team /tired of hearing sad sack and what should of been done well it wasn’t need to move on with wining now and forget last year and the year before , we all knew we had a very sad coach time to move Buco Bruce is in town .

  30. SOEbuc Says:

    Licht basically said we’re going to be running a lot of 3-4 and Spence is going to be a starter. We have two very serious decisions to make with Kwon and Beckwith. But ?/White/LVD/Noah sounds like a LB corp that I’m going to be excited to see.

  31. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Thank you Lord C and TBBF for correcting some of the revisionist history posters on this blog.

    Spence was widely considered to be a first round talent who dropped because of his Molly fun at OSU. And speaking of OSU when they were both freshmen Spence was considered better than Bosa by many OSU followers.

    The rap on Spence was his off field rep not his play. And in fact again at that joint summer practice with the Jags both teams were raving about him. Then came the shoulder injuries and Smitty’s lack of imagination in utilizing him.

    Spence is in the same spot as JW. This is the year he needs to erase all the bad memories and show us who he REALLY is.
    Make or break year for JW…Spence…and depending on cuts perhaps folks like Gholston. It’s time to spit or get off the pot for more than one Buc this season.

  32. Greg Says:

    I guess we cant get too excited this next year either. Looks like its all about Jason trying to get Arians to fix his draft and free agency mistakes instead of building a winner. Im not saying we need to get rid of Winston but the coaching search started with a mandate that the next coach needs to LOVE Winston. What has Light or Winston achieved to deserve this? Spence is a bust, McCoy is staying at 13 million a year, Kwon wants 10 million a year for being an undersized injury prone linebacker, Beckwith may be done, trying to get Jackson back at 10 million a year, building the team around Barber?


  33. rrsrq Says:

    Bucs fans are so funny, Spence really played well as a rookie at defensive end. As a matter of fact he had more sacks than Nassib in less games, but we want to crown Nassib better than Spence. Basically we have two average DE’s who we Ned as rotational players and we are hoping one of them will become dominant. I think Buckner was a good coach, but JPP didn’t need him, he is JPP, but GMC and the rest of the defensive line was porous. Nassib had two sacks against the Browns, he had something to prove and he had many other opportunities but couldn’t close. Spence, Allen, Mitch, Vinnie, Gholston all were invisible.

  34. DBS Says:

    There are players in every sport that get injured. Some never make it back totally. Unless proven otherwise to me this is the case here. He is affraid of another serious injury. That is my opinion.

  35. Doctor_berto Says:


    Brian Burns is built like a twig. Hard pass coming from an FSU fan.

  36. Costa Rica John Says:

    I thought Spence had the shoulder injury and hasn’t played the same as his rookie year. Maybe that lingered somewhat. I just hope he can make some contributions. Now the bigger tragedy is we sent M.Barron to the Rams for a fourth round pick and they turn him into a very good linebacker. Let’s see if Arians can do the same with Spence.

  37. SOEbuc Says:

    Has been repeated many a time by many of people. Spence should of never been playing DE in Mike Smith’s terrible defense. The guy is 6’2″ 251 lbs.!!! Nassib is 6’6″ 273 lbs. Small guy like Spence playing DE in a 4-3 they were begging for him to go down with an upper body injury again and again.

  38. Rod Munch Says:

    Spence had a pretty good rookie year at DE, then, if memory serves me correctly, he came to camp the next year down like 35lbs, so he was in the 230lb range (I could be off by a few pounds). At the time that made no sense for a guy who had a good year and was supposed to be a DE. Also remember there was all the talk about Mike Smith running a 3-4. I wonder if the Bucs sold him on moving him to LB then changed their mind when Mike smith couldn’t remember what a 3-4 was. Of course Spence also got injured, then injured again, then last year he just never played.

    Anywho I hope he can rebound, what a huge plus that would be. Then again I think the likelihood of that happening is between 0-1.5%.

  39. Bobby M. Says:

    I guess Aguayo is out of the league because the staff couldn’t coach him up or find the right scheme for him either.

  40. Pickgrin Says:

    Never seen a player backed so far into the doghouse as Spence was last year.

    I’m relatively sure there’s more to this Noah Spence situation than has been told…

    Spence flashed a bunch of times his rookie year – mostly with one arm… Then post surgery – he looked very good in 2017 PS, TC and the first game of that year – until his shoulder popped out again. He tried to play in a few more games that year after resting it – and couldn’t. Had another surgery mid season – the “full” surgery that was supposed to totally fix the problem and not allow his shoulder to come out of socket again.

    That was almost a year and a half ago – and other than seeing him play pretty much the entire 4th pre-season game last year (which looked very much like punishment of some form to me at the time) – we haven’t even seen this dude on the field at ALL. He was inactive most every game last year and never played I don’t think if he ever was activated.

    Makes ya go HMMMMMMM……

  41. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I hate to break it to you all, but Noah Spence will not even make the final 53 man roster.

    He’ll either be released….or he’ll get injured in the preseason. Or both.

  42. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Bobby M. Says
    “I guess Aguayo is out of the league because the staff couldn’t coach him up or find the right scheme for him either.”

    You laugh. But aren’t you just a little curious as to what he could do under Arians? Didn’t Arians turn a kicker into a championship QB?

    Or am I getting that story wrong?

  43. Joe Says:

    I’m relatively sure there’s more to this Noah Spence situation than has been told…

  44. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Spence was a great DE at a small college but could not match up with the bigger Oline in the NFL. He definitely has the skillset and fire to excel but does not have the size to compete as a fully time DE. I think he will excel as a rushing linebacker.

  45. Owlykat Says:

    From the start Coach Smith said he was going to play a 4-3 and a 3-4 and would put players in position to succeed. Licht might have picked Spence thinking Smith would make a LB out of him for his 3-4 based on Smith’s public statements. Regardless BA’s OLB Coach will have a big LB in Spence like BA wants and can develop him into a heck of a LB by next season. Spense already knows all the moves to use on a blitz to get to the QB. The same Coach will be training Nassib to be an OLB at the same time too. You get those two players on the outside and have David and Minter inside with Vea at NT and McCoy and JPP at DE and behind them have Claiborne and Davis as CBs with Hargraves at Slot Corner and Justin Evans at FS and Honey Badger at SS, and our DC Bowles calling the Defenses we are going to be looking at a Top Ten Defense Finally again. We don’t need Alexander who expects 8 million dollars!