For most of the season, outside of a handful of games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the worst defenses in the league. In fact, it was so bad early on that they were forced to fire Mike Smith, who announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday.
Yes, they had some good stretches later on in the season under interim defensive coordinator Mark Dufner, but those were mostly against the bottom feeders of the NFL and the defense still wasn’t good enough.
Now, the Buccaneers have to adjust to their new defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, who is considered one of the better defensive coordinators in the league. Obviously, a lot of adjustments and learning will take place over the next eight months, but it was evident Tampa Bay needed a whole new philosophy on defense.
Anyway, below are four players from the Buccaneers defense who had high expectations coming into last season and how their 2018 numbers compared to their career averages.
Career stats avg (2010-2017): 33.6 total tackles, 29 solo tackles, 6.9 sacks per year, 2.8 pass defenses
2018 season stats: 28 total tackles, 17 solo tackles, 6 sacks and 1 pass defense.
Opinion: 2018 very well could have been Gerald McCoy’s final season with the Buccaneers. Unless a restructure happens, I can’t see the Buccaneers paying him $13 million dollars. The production just doesn’t line up anymore. It was his worst season statistically since 2011 and the new regime has now ties to him which doesn’t help his case. Hew gave it his all in Tampa Bay, there is no question about that, but it’s time for both sides to move on.
Career stats avg (2010- 2017): 61.8 tackles, 44 solo tackles, 8.2 sacks per year, 1.8 Forced fumbles
2018 season stats: 58 total tackles, 48 solo tackles, 12.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble
Opinion: It was a hell of a season by JPP. Not only did he break the 12 year drought of no Buccaneer reaching 10 sacks, but he battled through numerous injuries all season long and was a force almost every Sunday. Props to general manager Jason Licht for acquiring JPP for only a third round pick back in March. Except JPP to be an important piece of Todd Bowles defense moving forward and become one of the true leaders on the defensive side of the ball.
Career stats avg (2012-2017): 127.5 total tackles, 91.3 solo tackles, 3 sacks, 2.8 forced fumbles and 1.8 fumble recoveries.
2018 stats: 119 total tackles, 94 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.
Opinion: It was another solid year for one of the best outside 4-3 linebackers in the league. Lavonte David is never really mentioned in the national media, but he deserves to be. He’s another Buccaneer who shows up week in and week out and Todd Bowles will love to have him in his defense. The only negative from David is that he hasn’t had an interception in two seasons and the forced fumbles were a bit lower than normal. Either way, he will be an important piece moving forward.
Career stats avg (2007-2017): 13.4 pass-breakups, 2.6 INT’s
2018 season: 6 pass-breakups, 0 INT’s
Opinion: Grimes wasn’t paid enough to do much of anything on the field. Yes, that’s according to him. *Inserts eye roll emoji*. Yeah, good riddance Brent… and Miko.