TAMPA – As their most ardent fans well know, the Buccaneers haven’t had a single player record any more than nine sacks in a single season since Simeon Rice took down 14 opposing quarterbacks back in 2005.
It’s a rather alarming stat, and in a lot of ways it speaks to the struggles the Bucs as a whole have had the past decade. The stat doesn’t seem to be bother Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, though.
Koetter was reminded of the absence of a double-digit sacker over the weekend after Rice showed up at One Buc Place, and he was quick to point out yet again that some have a tendency to put too much emphasis on sacks.
“The last I heard, the object of the game was to win the game,’’ Koetter said, sounding a bit like former Bucs secondary coach and Jets head coach Herm Edwards. “Seems to me like, that 10-sack number – if you win the game – who cares?’’
Koetter makes a very good point. After all, the Bucs obviously didn’t have a 10-sack player last year, yet they won nine games and actually finished the year tied for ninth in the league in sacks with 38.
By the way, the league leader in sacks last year was the Arizona Cardinals, who had 48. The Carolina Panthers had 47 to rank second and the Denver Broncos tied for third with 42. Do you know one thing they all had in common? None of them made the playoffs.
The point here is that sacks are indeed a sexy stat, but it’s the overall effect of a team’s pass rush that matters most, and in that regard it seems the Bucs are actually gaining some respect.
That’s Koetter’s belief at least, and it stems in part from the way the Jaguars limited the Bucs to just two sacks during Tampa Bay’s 12-8 win in Jacksonville last Thursday on a night when the Bucs had what Koetter thought was a very good pass rush.
It seems that after watching the Bucs dominate the pass rush drills during their joint workouts earlier in the week, the Jaguars altered their offensive scheme in an effort to accommodate for the strength of the Bucs pass rush.
“We had an excellent pass-rush during the week against Jacksonville, so they came out (and) on the first two third downs, they went to a quick-count to try to catch us off guard,’’ Koetter said.
“And then on the third third-down of the game, it was third-and-17 and they ran a slant route. They went quick-game. It’s third-and-17 and they ran a slant route. That’s respect for your pass-rush.’’
The Bucs did record a pair of sacks against the Jaguars, but both came on blitzes as linebackers Lavonte David and Adarius Glanton took advantage of a strength-in-numbers situation.
From what we’ve seen of the Bucs so far this preseason, we’re likely to see a lot more of those blitzes this year, so the next Buccaneers to record 10 or more sacks could wind up being a linebacker and not a linemen.
That would be a bit of a surprise, but as far as Koetter is concerned it doesn’t matter whether the Bucs get 10 or more sacks out of one player or not and you know what? He’s right.