Don’t look now, but the Buccaneers are tied for fifth in the league with 15 sacks.
Yet despite six quarterback takedowns in Sunday’s win, head coach Lovie Smith believes the defensive line had even more opportunities to make plays.
“Pleased in general,” Smith said. “We left a little bit on the field (Sunday) and that’s what (Defensive line coach) Joe (Cullen) and Paul (Spicer) will say. But you have to be pleased when you see a young player like Jacq Smith come around and Will Gholston moving into a more prominent role.”
Along with sacks from the usual suspects – Gerald McCoy with two and Lavonte David with one – former practice squad player Howard Jones emerged on Sunday with two in the first half. While Smith expects more from the front four as a whole, he was pleased to see inexperienced players make their presence felt in pass defense.
“Howard Jones, have you met him?” Smith jokingly asked. “It’s not like I’ve spent a whole lot of time with him myself. But it’s good to see a young player like that come up, get his opportunity for playing time and come through. (Jones’s) first passing situation and he gets a sack with a great move, too. That’s been fun to watch, some of those players stepping up.”
In order to get a steady rotation along the front and fresh legs to rush the quarterback, the Bucs deployed an extra defensive lineman on Sunday. It became a competition among teammates of who could blitz the quarterback faster or get behind the line first on run plays.
“We’ve kind of changed it up a little bit and started dressing eight defensive linemen instead of seven, letting everybody have an opportunity to play,” Smith said. “Once you get that competition, you see who gets back there the quickest. You (also) take away the quarterback’s run lane (Sunday) and we did a fairly good job against the (running backs), too.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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