Tampa has been without a double-digit sack master for a long time. The last time Tampa had a defensive player reach that mark, was in 2005 when Simeon Rice had fourteen. In the days of old, the Sapp and Rice days, it wasn’t hard to see that a strong, and high sack producing pass rush, helped tremendously in achieving wins.
Intro: The Guru, Jay Hayes, former Bengals defensive lines coach, who is widely known as the guy who coached the Bengals line into producing a ton of sacks and run stops, also in producing several double-digit sack artists. He left the Bengals leaving them with four out of the five seasons having forty or more sacks each season. In 2015, the Bengals had the only team in the NFL who’s defensive line produced two solid players achieving more than ten sacks. (Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap) Jay Hayes will now have Gerald McCoy, Noah Spence, Robert Ayers, Clinton McDonald, and Jacquies Smith, several who are fully capable of reaching that double-digit mark and possibly beyond.
Clinton McDonald has worked under Jay Hayes before and knows what kind of coach he is and knows the that Tampa’s defensive lineman are going to learn a thing or two. “He’s a proactive coach. He teaches you how to use your tools for the most part. He emphasizes your hands, your footwork, things that you really need to break away, get a sack or get a tackle or something like that. He says, ‘If you can do the small things right, the big things are going to be easy to do.'”
Robert Ayers, who has played under Wayne Nunnely at Denver and Robert Nunn in New York, seems to be impressed with Jay Hayes. “Look at this resume. All of the great players from Geno Atkins to Justin Smith to all of those guys he’s coached and look at Cincinnati’s d-line. He’s not coaching just from a guy who studied the game, he’s coaching from a guy that played the game, so that’s great.
The Buccaneers had polished up their secondary, after a horrendous display last season, but everybody knows if the Bucs are going to improve defensively it has to begin up front with getting pressure on the quarterback. The rest will follow.
With Mike Smith leading the Buccaneers defensive charge in 2016, we hope to see some of the defensive displays we have seen from other teams coach Smith has attributed to. Smith, firstly was the defensive assistant and defensive lines coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2001 before becoming the Ravens linebackers coach in 2002. In case you didn’t know, that Ravens defense was monstrous. When Mike Smith left the Ravens and headed over to Jacksonville, the Jaguars did not have a winning record. While Mike Smith was the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, the defense of the Jaguars complimented the offense nicely, going from 5-11 to 9-7 and finishing out 11-5. Mike Smith worked with Dirk Koetter during his time with the Jaguars. However, Mike Smith had previously met Dirk Koetter at a coaching clinic, after the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2001. Dirk Koetter was the head coach of Arizona State at that time. When Smith left the Jaguars in 2008, he became the Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons, turning a 5-11 Falcons into an 11-5 relevant team. That relevancy would continue until 2013. In 2011, Mike Smith jumped at the chance to add his ex-coaching mate, former Jaguars offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, to his Falcons team. They combined to produce back to back playoff seasons, ultimately losing in the NFC Championship to the 49ers, by four points.
The one thing that jumps out at me about these three coaches is playoffs and division titles. If any of that is indicative of what’s to come, then all the predictions of Tampa being 5-11 or 7-9, by the end of 2016, can be thrown out of the window. It’s more than likely that Tampa finishes at the top of the division and takes a playoff spot, or a wildcard spot, either one would be more than amazing, but a winning season alone would help to quench every Bucs fan’s thirst for glory.