Injuries are important. Every year, some of the least-injured teams make it to the playoffs while most of the most-injured teams do not. And every year, Football Outsiders puts out their estimate of who lost the most due to injuries by looking at starters. That to make sure that injuries to backups and other irrelevant players don't have a disproportionate impact on the numbers, and to make sure they incorporate the effect of
In Football Outsiders' 2015 injury rankings, the Buccaneers lost a few games to injury -- 75 adjusted games, to be precise. That was slightly above the average of 65, and ranks them 22nd. That's not great, but it's hardly devastating.
When Outsiders drilled down into the details, though, we could see one interesting fact: the Bucs lost 25.6 games on the defensive line. That's more than all but one team in the NFL lost, and the reason why is obvious. The Bucs missed Akeem Spence for the first half of the season, and lost Clinton McDonald after six games. As if that wasn't bad enough, they also lost Jacquies Smith for four games, and Gerald McCoy for one -- with the latter being visibly limited in games for about half the season. Despite that, those two players combined for 15.5 sacks.
That's one reason to be optimistic about the Bucs' defensive line performance this year: a little bit of health can go a long way.