Much has been made of the Bucs finishing last in the NFL in sacks with just 22 during the 2017 season, but new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner says he measures success in much more than the ultimate goal of a sack.
"You play 1,300 plays, you have 10 (sacks) and they want to throw you a parade," Buckner said of the home-run allure of bringing down opposing quarterbacks. "Well, what about the (other) 1,290 plays that you have? They're a great part of the game, but we want to affect the whole game."
Video: New Bucs defensive line coach Brentson Buckner talks about a mentality of creating consistent pressure and not just occasional sacks. pic.twitter.com/rgx6AAfazc— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 21, 2018
Buckner spent the last five seasons in Arizona. The Cardinals had at least 35 sacks every season and led the NFL with 48 sacks in 2016. But Arizona finished sixth or higher in total defense in four of his five seasons there, so a defensive line's success can start by being stout against the run and forcing opponents into predictable passing downs.
"First of all, we want to make sure we stop the run," said Buckner, joining a Bucs defense that ranked 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game. "I think a lot of people get misconstrued about just getting sacks, but you stop the run and you get them into pure passing downs … you get to that point and now you go get the quarterback."
Buckner pointed to this year's Super Bowl — not a particularly strong defensive game — but reminded that the game hinged on a sack in the fourth quarter as Tom Brady tried to rally the Patriots. Those late-game situations can be crucial to closing out a defensive game plan.
"It's about being consistent, putting yourself in the right spot and constantly trying to break that wall down," Buckner said. "That's where I judge it. Are you always going to get sacks? No, because that offensive line gets paid, too. But it's the consistent pressure, moving him off the spot, making him make bad throws, throw a little too early, affect the game that way."
Other than Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers was the Bucs’ best defensive lineman last season, Thomas Bassinger writes. #Bucs #Buccaneers @TBBuccaneers @tometrics @1_900_ayersjr @TB_Times https://t.co/llVexU7U6l— TampaBayTimesSports (@TBTimes_Sports) February 20, 2018