The Buccaneers defense has 15 sacks through six weeks this season, tying them for eighth most in the NFL. Considering they had 36 for the entire year in 2014, that has to be an encouraging stat and evidence that the front four is improving. But, as players and coaches have said all week, they still aren’t content with what’s been put on tape.
“We haven’t really done it yet. We’re doing more, but we haven’t done enough. If you look at the tape there are so many more opportunities that we can take advantage of,” said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, echoing Lovie Smith’s statements from last week. “We’re going to change some things up, got to go back to the drawing board last week. Hopefully we can see the fruits of it on Sunday and move forward.”
McCoy suggested that the stat is misleading based on the inconsistency at which the sacks come. In three losses Tampa Bay’s recorded five total sacks, while their two wins have seen 10 quarterback takedowns.
So while the front four has proven they can apply pressure, the next step is maintaining that success.
“We just have to keep getting there, being more consistent with it,” McCoy said. “You have three here, then you have a game with one, and then you just explode with six. You just have to be more consistent and try to average three a game. That will put you closer to the top of the league, three a game. That would take a lot of pressure off the backend.”
Of course in order to have consistent pressure and accumulate sacks, the defense has to put the offense in passing situations. That means stopping the run on first and second down to set up third-and-7 or longer.
McCoy relayed a coaching tip from his defensive coordinator – “Coach Frazier always says rushing the passer has to be earned,” he said – before Frazier later spoke for himself about the importance of making an offense predictable.
“You have to be able to do some things that can help you rush, like being able to stop the run, putting people in predictable situations,” Frazier said. “That’s big for our defense. If we can get those sacks and put people in third and long situations, it makes a big difference. It’s a big deal.”
Tampa Bay forced Washington into third-and-long numerous times last year en route to a season-high six sacks on Robert Griffin III in Week 11. If the Bucs can repeat that performance against Kirk Cousins this Sunday, odds are they’ll fly back home with a .500 record. Because while the season total may not be the best indication of consistency, the fact that 10 of 15 came in both wins is certainly telling enough on the impact sacks have on a game.
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.
Contact him at: [email protected]
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