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Don't Fall Prey To The Pass Rush Hype

Jacqueis Smith and Howard Jones have laid down a few numbers that have the desperate Buccaneer faithful reaching.

Right place, right time.
Right place, right time.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Simeon Rice left in 2006 and took with him the pass rush.  Unheralded as he was, he put up greater sack numbers than any non Hall of Fame player that Tampa has ever had.  The team is still desperate to find a man who can come off the edge that's in the same league as Rice.  Even after finding the next Sapp in Gerald McCoy, pressure has been intermittent at best.

Jacquies Smith lead the league in sacks as of week two, and Howard Johnson got two sacks in his first NFL game- one on his very first play.  That is reason enough to get excited, however people are already overly indulging.

Wonderful as it might be for them to stack bodies, I remain unconvinced.

Smith has 4 sacks on the season and had the fumble recovery touchdown last week that made the difference for a Buccaneer win.  His three sack performance demonstrated ravenous speed as he hounded Brees, forcing him to fumble twice.  The problem- that's all he is.  Smith is, exclusively, a speed rusher.  He lacks reliable moves and doesn't flash much with his hands.  Smith attacks the outside shoulder, and either beats you off the snap or doesn't beat you at all.  If he gets around that shoulder he is a problem- just like anyone else.  He doesn't play with enough leverage to force the tackle upfield if Smith failed to blow by him.  This is in part due to his size, though is closely related to technique

I went over the game tape from last week and didn't see Smith anywhere.  It didn't matter where he lined up, each tackle was more than equipped to handle what was thrown at them.  On the stat sheet he was called for a false start and had a single pressure.  That pressure should have turned into a sack but he let Bortles get away from him.

What's worse is he looks oblivious in the run game.  If he wasn't being blown off of the ball against the Jaguars, he was overpursuing or appeared completely lost.  Going over film of other games this season showed more of the same (though Jacksonville was particularly bad).

Howard Johnson is a complete unknown.  We have one game of footage on him and he accrued two sacks.  That alone is great- yet it doesn't allow us draw definitive conclusions.  He found a lane on a stunt for his first takedown and beat a man inside on his second.  He didn't have a high snap count, so it was difficult to track him in pressures and on run defense.  Its surprising at such a slight size that Jones can capably put his hand in the dirt.  Just going on odds here, I'm of the opinion he was in the right place at the right time and got away with a good game.

This happens to guys every year, like I believe it happened to Smith against New Orleans.  When a team suffers from such a dearth of talent and catches a flicker, people go overboard.  It's exciting to find that overlooked, try hard player.  The Miles Austin types that went uncelebrated yet find a prominent role on a team and make the league notice.  Tampa desperately needs one of these two men to be that athlete- unfortunately, singing their praises won't make that happen.