“He’s Gumby, Damn It!”

August 31st, 2023

Pass rush urgency.

Joe will never forget that cold, dreary February 2018 day in downtown Indianapolis when Joe could clearly tell that Dirk Koetter was fed up with a lack of a pass rush.

Joe was gathered with Bucs reporters at a round table surrounding the former Bucs head coach at the combine tucked away in the crevices of the Indiana Convention Center.

Joe’s question had something to do with defense, maybe sacks. And Koetter’s answer was memorable. Joe sat maybe four feet from Koetter who glared into Joe’s face, looked Joe directly in the eyes and said with a clenched jaw, “We cannot have just 22 sacks!”

A lack of sacks was a hallmark of Bucs teams during The Lost Decade. In fact, the inability — or lack of desire — to acquire players who could get to quarterbacks was a significant reason the Bucs stunk so badly from the time Chucky was fired until the day the Bucs hired Bucco Bruce Arians.

It was common for Joe to cry himself to sleep at night from frustration that the Bucs didn’t appear to covet or appreciate sacks.

Well, as Joe heard Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht discuss sacks today, it was beyond refreshing, almost erotically so.

There is no question about the value of sacks in the NFL in the 21st century. It is nearly impossible to have a top-shelf defense without sacks.

Sacks are drive-killers, that’s all there is to it.

Part of this newfound urgency in finding someone who can regularly put quarterbacks on the ground is the Bucs discovering outside linebacker Markees Watts out of the football doormat known as Charlotte in Conference USA.

Watts had 21.5 sacks playing in 54 games for Charlotte. He holds the school record for sacks.

Watts flew past Joe’s radar, even in training camp practice. Joe doesn’t monitor the third team often. Joe has a nasty habit of paying attention to players fans care about. You know, stars and starters.

Joe noticed Watts making more plays than sixth-round pick José Ramirez, who stats queen Cynthia Frelund of NFL Network was big on. But Watts showed up enough, even in worthless preseason games, that the Bucs kept him on the (initial) 53-man roster.

“He really jumped off the tape even that very first time we had him in here on a tryout,” Licht said. “He’s Gumby, damn it!

“He plays about this low to the ground [Licht holds his hand above the floor]. He’s very explosive off the edge. He’s smart. He plays hard. He has natural power. He has a big upside.”

Watts was one of six outside linebackers to make the cut this week. Ramirez found himself on the Bucs’ practice squad.

So Licht began speaking about sacks as a whole and it was like Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” to Joe’s ears.

“We didn’t go into this offseason saying we were going to keep a certain number of pass rushers,” Licht explained. “You can’t have too many of those guys.

“Even without thinking of injuries, you just can’t have enough pass rushers. I think it is going to pay off for us.”

Finally — finally! — it seems Bucs shot-callers have found the vital urgency of getting to the quarterback. Yes, Joe knows the Bucs had a ferocious pass rush when they won the Super Bowl in 2020.

But as Todd Bowles said the year the Bucs signed Bucs sack king Shaq Barrett to a prove-it contract when he was on the street, if folks knew Shaq’s real value, he would never have been a free agent.

Joe loves this improved attitude by the Bucs. Loves it! And yes, if the Bucs can find a couple of guys to get after the quarterback, it will pay off big time!

As for Licht dropping a “Gumby” reference on a pass rusher, that didn’t go too well last time.

52 Responses to ““He’s Gumby, Damn It!””

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    They weren’t “worthless” preseason games for Watts.

  2. Buc1987 Says:

    TBBF…as well as a few others I would imagine.

  3. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Tampabaybucfan Says
    “They weren’t “worthless” preseason games for Watts.”

    Indeed. This roster must prove to Joe that Preseason games are not as worthless as he believes. Most of these rookies earned their spots during hte preseason.

  4. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    In that same presser, Licht made the comment that Bowels chose Baker Mayfield (just past 7 minute mark).

    That right there is proof that Bowles’ wanted a veteran.

    “Baker must have been better or Todd wouldn’t have chosen him.”

    Accountability. It will come back to bite Bowles at the end of the season…unless, of course…Trask starts playing earlier than expected and does extremely well in the playoffs (odds against).

    After all…can’t fire Bowles if we reach the nfc championship, even if it is with the QB he didn’t pick.

  5. sasquatch Says:

    It’s not a new attitude. We just happened to luck out with Watts, who they obviously didn’t want to risk losing.

  6. Dew Says:

    I was afraid they were going to try to sneak Watts onto the practice squad.

  7. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Agreed. We may not have many guys, or any, with double digit sacks because we will have 8-9 guys with 4, 5 or more.

  8. Duane in Sanford Says:

    I like what we have stocked at pass rush. Its enough guys to where one of them will have success. The only concern I have is that the finances we put into the defense are being poured into the back end forward. $15-$20million each for Davis and Dean. Likely the same for Winfield. Diva wants more than that. Licht had to triple down on the draft picks to make it work this season. You get more of your money’s worth for sacks than you do for that mythical thing they call turnovers. LFG.

  9. DoooshLaRue Says:


  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe … ‘Sacks are drive-killers, that’s all there is to it.’

    Pretty much yes. So are takeaways and 3rd/4th down stops. Any team that ranks in the Top-10 in all 3 of those is gonna have a very good defense.

    o Bucs defense ranked tied for #5 in takeaways (29) in 2021, but fell to #24 in takeaways (20) in 2022.
    o Bucs defense ranked #7 in sacks (47) in 2021, but slipped slightly to tied for # 7 in sacks (45) in 2022.
    o Bucs defense ranked #23 in 3rd down stops (38.25%) in 2021, but slipped slightly to #25 in 3rd down stops (37.75%) in 2022.

    Todd Bowles defenses are quite consistent actually. Interesting to see that this year he wants more takeaways. Yup, the ultimate drive killer.

  11. Joe Says:

    Pretty much yes. So are takeaways and 3rd/4th down stops. Any team that ranks in the Top-10 in all 3 of those is gonna have a very good defense.

    As always, takeaways are mostly luck. Sacks are mostly skill

  12. President Canales Says:

    At a boy Jason. Plan your work and work your plan.

    Pass rush, and Canales. Thats all we need.

    Oh yeah and that QB position wouldn’t hurt either.

  13. Jvato24 Says:

    Baldinger made a great segment on him on Twitter, he roughed up the Steelers top picks this year

  14. larrd Says:

    Was Koetter wearing his flip-flops?

  15. Jimmy J Says:

    Why the hell do you give a shi! what Koetter said or thought . He’s a fired losing head coach . Why this site continues to quote him is a waste of time . M

  16. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Would that be Ozark watching Dirk?

  17. K_bassuka Says:

    Hope he helps solidify the defense.

  18. BucUp Says:

    Seen reports Tucker named RB2.. any word on that?

  19. 1#bucsfan Says:

    It’s worked for us twice now in 02 and 20. Both super bowls we had a ferocious defense but we also had guys that put the QB on the ground. We harassed Gannon and mahomie all game long. Honestly pass rushers are more important than DBs even in a passing league more often then not when a QB is running for his life or feels the pressure they make bad throws inaccurate throws and that leads to turnovers. We spent a lot of money on the back end when we should be spending more on the front end. Top priority is pass rushers. You can win super bowls with game manager QB play but you can’t if you don’t have a pass rusher.

  20. Glass Half Full Guy Says:

    Having a lot of pass rushers to rotate in to keep fresh bodies going after a QB is great and we have good depth there, including guys like D. White and the occasional safety blitz. The Eagles had 70 sacks last year. Wouldn’t that be nice

    Off topic….the other day a buddy of mine said Jason Licht is what Fred Flintstone would look like if he were a real person. Now I can’t stop seeing it. I need new friends. Lol

  21. SlyPirate Says:

    Kancey, Yaya, Watts, Jose
    Licht was on a mission to get young versatile DL/OLB with speed to rush the passer. Add Shaq, JTS, and White to that mix and Bowles can construct pretty elaborate blitz packages with this crew.


  22. Mike C Says:

    College does not have preseason games …..#worthless

  23. sasquatch Says:

    BucUp Says:
    August 31st, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    Seen reports Tucker named RB2.. any word on that?

    buccaneers . com > team > depth chart

    Currently has him 4th, but I think that doesn’t reflect reality. I think he’ll be getting more touches than Vaughn or Edmonds very quickly.

  24. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    I disagree with takeaways being luck. Better players generate more takeaways. Look at the great corners like Barber who have high interception totals. Some guys cause more fumbles than others. Sacks are about matchups as much as skill.

  25. LongSeason Says:

    Can we do better than the Los Angeles Buccaneers? They did have a winning record back in 1926 (6-3-1). You didn’t think our Buccaneers were the first Buccaneers did you? But we can has no idea how many sacks they had.
    The most years straight with 40+ sacks bu our Bucs in a season is 4.
    1999-2002 Dungy and Coach Chuckie.
    2019-2022 Arians and Bowles
    Most years straight with 29 – sacks by our Bucs in a season is 5
    2008-2012 Coach Chuckie, Chuck Rah and Schiano
    Least number of sacks in a season for us was 1986 under Bennett.
    Look up the records and there is a definite correlation between planting large numbers of Quarterback trees and winning.
    So too is there a correlation to losing by allowing a team to convert on a large number of 3rd and 20’s. That negate sack(s).
    “We can’t stop the run. We can’t stop the pass. Other than that, we’re okay.”
    Whoever guesses who said that quote gets to serve themselves a nice cold brew from their fridge. Cheers. It’s on your tab though.

  26. Fred McNeil Says:

    Glass half full, now that you mention it Licht does resemble Fred Flintstone. LOL.
    Hey Joe, takeaways are sometimes more skill than luck and sometimes sacks are more luck than skill. Both are music to my ears.
    Who was that 2nd round pick that they used to call Gumby? He was always being hyped up, but never really worked out. IIRC he was a second round pick. His name just will not come to me.

  27. Fred McNeil Says:

    Long season, that was John McKay.

  28. Rod Munch Says:

    Well, here’s an idea, Dirk — use your teams best pass rusher, as a pass rusher. BTW, that would be David. Yes, he’s an amazing coverage LB, but if you don’t have a pass rush, it really doesn’t matter how good your coverage is since guys will eventually get open.

    Reminds me of the current dolt running the team who rushes the team’s best interior pass rusher, White, in that role, and insteads plays him in coverage – and unlike David, he’s not good in that role.

    Here’s the thing all coaches should remember — when you have special talent — use it! Don’t think your stupid scheme is more important than the players you have on the field. Design your scheme AROUND the players you have.

    Simple stuff, yet bad coaches always try to force players to take on roles they’re not good at — or will not use a player in a way that helps them in the moment.

  29. Deano Says:

    In 2022 didn’t Barber have six interceptions returned for a touchdown

  30. unbelievable Says:

    Eh, that’s kind of unfair to Spence… he was having a great year before injury, and then the re-injury, of his shoulder…

  31. LongSeason Says:

    Fred McNeil Says:
    August 31st, 2023 at 3:47 pm
    Long season, that was John McKay.

    Yup! The Quipper himself.
    “We didn’t block very well so we made up for it by not tackling.”

  32. Leopold Stotch Says:


  33. LongSeason Says:

    Deano Says:
    August 31st, 2023 at 3:54 pm
    In 2022 didn’t Barber have six interceptions returned for a touchdown

    Which Barber is it of whom you speak?

  34. Kidfloflo Says:

    Meaningless or not, I for one would have loved to see Kancey get some reps this pre season. Now his first time on an NFL field will be against live bullets in a meaningful game! Gonna take the kid awhile to get his footing and timing down I’d imagine

  35. LongSeason Says:

    We did have 45 sacks last season.
    Top Years for Sacks
    2000 – 55
    2020 – 48
    2021 – 47
    2019 – 47
    2004 & 2022 – 45
    Last year completion percentage allowed was 66.4. That needs to be greatly reduced and Ints need to be increased from 10. We only forced 20 total turnovers. We need more apple turnovers.

  36. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Joe

    I agree. If you don’t have a top 10 QB you better be able to go after the other teams QB and turn them into a more mediocre QB via a dominant pass rush and tight coverage.

  37. J Ghotier Says:

    Joe’s word is not the gospel, nor is everything he says near the truth – as much as he’d like to think it is. Think for yourselves…

    Preseason is def not “worthless”. To SO many and for SO many reasons. Even if not apparent to the grumpy, ornery Joe (we know who that one is and it ain’t Steve)

    Preseason for sure matters. Now of course the games that actually count mean more and to a journalist and for attention…but not completely “worthless” even in the slightest!

    This specific Bucs offseason and situation shows that and is all the proof ya need. This preseason def meant a lot for this whole team and organization 👏

  38. Fred McNeil Says:

    Oh, yeah, Noah Spence!
    Thank you, long season.

  39. firethecannons Says:

    Havenot even read all of this yet Joe–this is iconic Joe Bucs Fan. The post is so well written, funny interesting and entertaining all at the same time. Lol! Love it! No better football talk then right here! Good stuff! Call a spade when it is a spade and call it a Heart when it comes out like this post.

  40. Joe Says:

    Thank you fire!

  41. Rod Munch Says:

    Hey Licht, why isn’t Ronnie Brown signed on the practice squad already? What’s up with that? Did he make a pass at one of Bowles daughter or something?

  42. Duane Says:

    JBF loves to harp on sacks as if that’s the only stat that matters. Of course the only stat that matters is points allowed. Every other stat is just data.

    For example, last season, 2022, the Bucs ranked 10th in the league in sacks, but 13th in points allowed.

    But the season before that in 2021, the Bucs ranked nearly the same as 2022 in sacks -#9 in the league – but finished #5 in points allowed, again the only defensive stat that matters.

    Sacks are great, and they CAN be drive killers, but not necessarily so if the defense regularly gives up 3rd and long and can’t get off the field.

    Quarterback pressures are much more valuable than sacks. For one thing they happen a lot more often than sacks (a really strong sack total would be 3-4 per game, whereas a good pass rush produces quarterback pressures measured in the dozens per game). Plus, sacks rarely produce turnovers, most teams averaging well under half a strip sack per game, whereas effective pressures easily produce 3-4 + interceptions and fumbles per game. It is always better to produce turnovers than sacks.

  43. Lord Corn Says:

    We had to blitz a lot and take chances to generate pressure / sacks so that contributed a lot to the pass D and overall D regressing a bit IMO

  44. Lord Corn Says:

    The Super Bowl year we got way more sacks from the d-line/edge vs needing to blitz. It helps having extra 1-2 players in coverage while generating the same pressure

  45. garro Says:

    Lets not get too far out there Joe…LOL

    He currently sits behind JTS, Diaby, Barrett and Nelson.

    He does look like he can sub for some snaps though.

    Go Bucs!

  46. firethecannons Says:

    I am really interested in following Yaya over the season, he is a kid, a rook in a giant body, he is built solid, has serious power. he is determined too. When he smiles he looks like a JPP but bigger. Fun to watch him in preseason, had plenty pressures. Look forward to Calijaj Kancey too.

  47. Curse of Gruden Says:

    Noah “Gumby” Spence delivered a package to my house yesterday.

  48. RustyRhinos Says:

    “It was common for Joe to cry himself to sleep at night from frustration that”, Rachel Watson didn’t want to sneak around with Joe and play touch and smile. Joe should a “just shook your frog at her and said this frogs for you”

    WE definitely need a pass rush, Have to bring down the QB to cause them to be cautious in their dropbacks. Hitting them as they throw or after they throw is nice but not what put the fear in them like the real Bucs #93 did Rogers. He definitely got into his head, that game.

  49. RustyRhinos Says:

    Back in JBF Moderation again… Oh Joe, what could it have been, that I just typed, that set off your Blog algorithm again, Sounds like another coffee refill is at hand, While I am in JBF Moderation again…..

  50. RustyRhinos Says:

    “It was common for Joe to cry himself to sleep at night from frustration that”, Rachel Watson didn’t want to sneak around with Joe and play touch and smile. Joe should a “just shook your frog at her and said This frog is for you”

    WE definitely need a pass rush, Have to bring down the QB to cause them to be cautious in their dropbacks. Hitting them as they throw or after they throw is nice but not what put the fear in them like the real Bucs #93 did Rogers. He definitely got into his head, that game.

  51. Deano Says:

    Ronde Barber

  52. 941Boltsfan Says:

    I pinpoint the beginning of the lost decade to the day Monte Kiffon announced he was leaving for the opportunity to coach with his son in college.( won’t give my opinion on that decision) however the end of the season with multiple weeks of win and your in and it all started at that days press conference the defense didn’t execute the same.