Football Outsiders put out their list of the “All-Keep Chopping Wood” team - their annual team of the worst, well, I’ll let them explain what it is:
A reminder that this isn’t strictly a list of the worst players in football -- that would be filled with third-stringers and injury replacements, and people who really had no business being on a football field.
*Cough.* Nathan Peterman. *Cough.*
Rather, we’re looking at players who ended up hurting their team in significant ways. Sometimes that’s through off-field distractions, antics, or shenanigans. Sometimes that’s a shiny new free-agent signing whose greatest contribution to the season is cashing that new paycheck. Sometimes it’s a high draft pick who just will not develop.
The Bucs didn’t have anyone on offense, but on defense, well, they had several make the team. Former Eagles Beau Allen and Vinny Curry both made it. Both struggled with injuries this season, but their contract values and therefore Tampa Bay’s poor return on investment land them here. To be fair, Mike Smith. But still.
Opposite of Vontae Davis and his halftime retirement was, of course, Brent Grimes and his comments on his wife’s podcast.
Yes, Brent. How very dare your coaches ask you to do the job you signed a $7 million contract to do. Those fiends.
Alas, Chris Conte’s viral tackle attempt vs Vance McDonald was not enough to keep his spot from last season’s team.
They didn’t just pick players though - they picked coaches too, and you know where this is going.
They went with Hue Jackson as their head coach, former Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy as OC, and for defense, you’ll never guess.
For the second year in a row, Mike Smith locked down the defensive coordinator spot.
In an attempt to generate enough defensive success to aid their relatively powerful offense, the Buccaneers have made a significant investment on that side of the ball over the past two seasons. Chris Baker has come and gone, replaced by the above-mentioned Beau Allen, while Mitch Unrein, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Vinny Curry were all signed, and Vita Vea drafted, to greatly improve last season’s league-worst front seven. That front seven ranked 32nd with an adjusted sack rate of only 4.3 percent in 2018, though it was slightly more competent against the run (19th in DVOA). On the back end, the team made another big investment in draft capital, adding cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis and safety Jordan Whitehead to the previous year’s selections of safety Justin Evans and linebacker Kendell Beckwith.
The results were horrendous. One year after finishing 32nd in DVOA, 31st against the pass, and 19th against the run, this season the Buccaneers finished 32nd overall, 30th against the pass, and 31st against the run. Augmented by the defensive line additions, the team’s adjusted sack rate leapt all the way to eighth, but the back seven couldn’t cover a weird selection of classic songs even if you gave them a full Weezer album to do it (not that anybody would ever want to do that, but I digress). Smith was fired after the team allowed at least 30 points in four of its first five games, including allowing 40 points twice (against the Saints, understandably, and the Bears, somewhat less understandably). Linebackers coach Mark Duffner took over and salvaged something from the wreckage, but the damage was already done.
Smith, for his part, announced his retirement after the season, so we will definitely have a new face in this spot next year.
There’s not really much more to say, other than a change should have happened a long time ago. Still, we wish Mr. Smith nothing but the best with his retirement.
So that’s all the Bucs who embarrassed thei- wait, what’s that? One more?
Finally, we’re giving a lifetime achievement award to Buccaneers special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor, who takes his infamous kicking roadshow to Landover, Maryland, this offseason as Jay Gruden’s latest coaching hire. Tampa Bay continued one of the most astonishing runs of failure in DVOA history this season: the Buccaneers field goal unit has finished worse than minus-12 expected points added in each of the past four years. No other team has fallen into negative-double figures even two straight seasons since the 2013-14 Detroit Lions, and those Lions are the only other team to even do that since ... the 2003-04 Buccaneers. Nobody else has even come close to four straight seasons that bad, at least since the turn of the century.
Yikes! At least 2019 will bring a new chapter of Buccaneer football!
So, is there anyone else from the Bucs you’d put on the list? What about players on other teams?