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Expect an improved Buccaneers sack total in 2015

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and fans alike know the need for a pass rushing defensive end for a Tampa 2 defense to work effectively. A Kraken almost made its berth in the bay, but did not. Yet all the Bucs manage to secure for an end was George Johnson via trade, the swapping of the Bucs' fifth round pick with Detroit Lions' seventh round pick - after a failed attempt to sign Johnson outright due to his restricted free agent status from careful language.

Here are Tampa's 2014 defensive line sack stats:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2014 D-Line Sack and TFLs Stats
DL Sacks TFLs
Clinton McDonald 5.0 5
William Gholston 2.0 8
Akeem Spence 3.0 4
Gerald McCoy 8.5 5
Michael Johnson 4.0 4
Da'Quan Bowers 1.5 2
Jacquies Smith 6.5 0
Larry English 1.0 0
TJ Fatinikun 0.5 2
Scott Solomon 1.0 1
Totals 33.0 31.0
Team totals 36.0 67

Out:  Michael Johnson, 4.0 sacks

In: George Johnson, 6.0 sacks

The swapping of the Johnsons has a positive movement based off of 2014 productions of +2 sacks. That would be a new total of 38 sacks, again, based on 2014 productions. To put the team sack total into context, here is a top 5 and bottom 5 team sack totals and ranking:

2014 NFL Stats
Top 5, Bottom 5, and Tampa Bay
Rank Team Sacks
1 Buffalo 54
2 Philadelphia 49
Baltimore 49
4 NY Giants 47
5 Kansas City 46
21 Tampa Bay 36
28 Dallas 28
29 San Diego 26
30 Atlanta 22
Oakland 22
32 Cincinnati 20
Stats from

George Johnson's acquisition does not seem like a boost, but rather a lateral move on a good contract. George signed a $7 million contract for 3 years, an average salary of $2.3 million per year. Michael Johnson, who signed with Tampa Bay during the 2014 offseason, inked a five year deal worth $43.75 million, or $8.75 million per year average. The contract swap itself was more than worth the lateral movement.

Just how dire is the situation with the Bucs and sacks? Recall that the defense markedly improved its play after the bye week. If you do not recall, then here is a link to the 2014 Defensive Drive Year End Review article that denotes the improvement. If the defense improved, then did the sack rate also improve?  Let us delve into such a thought.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2014 Sack Stats
Game Opp Sacks
1 Car 1
2 StL 2
3 Atl 1
4 Pit 5
5 NO 0
6 Bal 0
7 Min 1
8 Cle 4
9 Atl 1
10 Was 6
11 Chi 3
12 Cin 2
13 Det 4
14 Car 3
15 GB 1
16 NO 2
Total 36
Stats from

The aforementioned chart represents the sack production per game as well as denotes where the bye week occurred. Six games were played before the bye week and nine game played after the bye week. Next, those stats will be condensed with projections based upon 16 games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2014 Sack Stats
Bye Week Separation
Game Opp Sacks Sack Rate Projection over 16 games
6 games Before the Bye 9 1.5 24
10 games After the Bye 27 2.7 43.2
Total 36

A nearly doubling of the sack rate production occurred after the bye week. That finding is a drastic jump in production!  And projected upon 16 games, then it would rank the Bucs just outside of the top 5 in team sack totals.

As for the defensive line addition, besides adding George's +2 sacks, is interior defensive lineman Henry Melton. He had five sacks last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The Bucs' interior line of McCoy-Mcdonald produced 13.5 sacks, which means the team has very good pressure up the middle.  Melton's addition should help to continue the high level of pressure in the middle.

Many people look at the total team stat production and believe in its totality. But if you break down the game play by the bye week, then one can notice a trend in the defense that made tremendous strides of improvement. The only game play the defense did not improve upon was its ability to close out games, as it had four blown saves in the games after the bye week.

Tampa is primed to have a defensive breakout, but it will not be a surprise if you have read this article and the links provided. And that defensive line, if it continues on its torrid pace after the bye, does not look as bleak as it once did before the break down.