Bucs Fans do you remember the last 8 games of last season? The defense seemed to finally come together, everything was starting to gel.
Brent Grimes ranked near the top of the league in passes defended, also ranking as Pro Football Focus’s best corner against the double move. Kwon Alexander was making plays all over the field. The pressure they put on opposing QB’s was starting to get better. Gerald McCoy was a beast, putting up 7 sacks on the year. Robert Ayers and Lavonte David also added pressure, recording 6.5 and 5 sacks on the year respectively.
So what happened this year? We brought in Chris Baker for his ability to stop the run, as well as to rush the passer, putting up at least 5 sacks the last 2 years. Yet Mike Smith has used him as a rotational DT, something he’s not used to. Gerald McCoy has been used in a lot of defensive line stunts, which completely takes away his best asset, his quickness off the snap, at times even bumping into Clinton McDonald. Also Robert Ayers and William Gholston have both struggled to make plays in the opponent’s backfield. Vernon Hargreaves seemed to have regressed since last season, constantly being picked on by opposing QBs. TJ Ward was signed for 5 million dollars to solve our situation at safety, but has rarely seen the field.
Something this writer has noticed seems to be a little bit strange is that Mike Smith has had the defensive front line up in a 3-4 alignment, which again, is not what the Bucs do well. He has even had them line up in a 3-3-5, putting an extra DB on the field. This boggles my mind, if you’re trying to put pressure on the QB.
If Mike Smith can’t get this defense to start producing splash plays, then we will surely have a new defensive coordinator next year.