Buccaneers defensive line coach Jay Hayes addressed the media on spoke on several hot button topics, including Tampa Bay possibly playing some 3-4 scheme this year with the addition of players that can play in that defense, including Washington defensive tackle Chris Baker and USC defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolotavu, and an update on defensive end Noah Spence.
When asked about the Bucs playing some downs in a 3-4 this year, Hayes played coy at first, but hinted that Mike Smith’s defense would be taking on many multiple looks.
Bucs DL coach Jay Hayes – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I don’t know who’s saying … you guys (the media) are speculating that,” Hayes said. “We have the potential to do a lot of multiple things. Smitty is always adding multiple packages. Is there a chance that we could have a look that looks like a 3-4? Potentially. Sure. But for us to wholesale change and just be 3-4? I don’t see that happening.
“We’re always going to be a multiple front and when we have the type of athletes that we have with the Noah Spences and the Jacquies Smiths and the Ryan Russells and those types of guys, we’re going to move people all around. We’re going to rush people. We’re going to drop people. We’re going to keep people on edge and not get a gauge on who is the guy [rushing], or who is dropping and those types of things. In the NFL today you have to do those things to be effective. We will continue to be multiple and sometimes you may see the big guys standing up. Who knows?”
Hayes hasn’t been able to work with Spence, who is coming off shoulder surgery this offseason, but has seen the progress he’s made with his conditioning. Earlier this week Spence, who recorded 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles as Tampa Bay’s second-round pick, showed off a much more slim, chiseled physique that he attributed to a much better diet.
“Everyone is saying he’s slimmed down,” Hayes said. “He’s actually heavier now than some of the games. In some of the games last year he was weighing like 238. He is in the high 240s now. Until he gets [medically] cleared and can really start doing all of his lifting and all of the things he needs to do to continue his rehab, he’s always going to be around 245-250-pound guy.
Bucs DE Noah Spence
“If he eats a whole bunch he may be 253. I wish I had that problem. He is the type of size guy that he is. I think he looks taller personally. I swear. I’ve said that to a number of people – the coaches. I’m like, ‘Man, it looks like he grew.’ He’s only 22 so he could have.”
Spence dislocated his right shoulder against Denver in Week 4, but finished the season by wearing a special harness and playing through the pain each week during practice and on game days. That toughness, especially from a rookie, caught Hayes’ attention.
“This is one of the toughest groups of men that I’ve ever coached from top to bottom,” Hayes said. “When you look at Will [Gholston], Clinton [McDonald], Gerald [McCoy] and you look at [Robert] Ayers and Noah Spence, who pound-for-pound is one of the toughest. He’s a young guy, but pound-for-pound … and what he did last year playing with that shoulder and playing all those games and not coming out.
“The last game of the year, we flushed [Panthers QB] Cam [Newton] and he slid down and popped [his shoulder] out. He popped it in before he got up. He came over to the sideline and the trainers grabbed him and were working on him.”
Hayes recalled the sideline conversation between he and Spence, who begged Hayes to go back in the game, which Tampa Bay won 17-16.
“He said, ‘I want to go back in!’”
Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I said, ‘Noah, you need to talk to the trainers.’”
“He said, ‘They took my helmet!’”
“I said, ‘Well, when they give you your helmet back, you come and see me. Okay?’”
“A few minutes later he comes back and says, ‘I’m good.’ I said, ‘Okay, here you go. As long as you show me you can be effective you can play. I won’t take you out.’”
“He said, ‘Okay, I’m fine.’”
“And he kept playing and playing.”
Whether it’s as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker in certain packages, a leaner, bigger, healthier Spence will be wrecking havoc for Hayes and the Buccaneers this fall.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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