Football Outsiders is doing a league-wide series of posts called "Red Flags," which take a look at the biggest remaining issue facing each team. Today’s Insider post is on the NFC South and I’m break it up into four smaller posts to explore the red flags for each team.
Our next stop is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Football Outsiders pointed to Tampa Bay’s pass rush as its biggest red flag and here’s the crux of the rationale:
“(Previously), we said Tampa Bay's biggest hole was at pass-rusher, and they've since gotten weaker there, not stronger. Michael Bennett, who led Tampa Bay with 9.0 sacks last season (the only Bucs player to crack the top 50 in sacks) signed with Seattle in free agency.’’
That’s a valid concern. But the Bucs felt Bennett already had hit his upside and didn’t want to give him big money. That’s largely because the Bucs invested two high draft picks in Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers.
Clayborn had a strong rookie season, but missed most of last year with an injury. Bowers was limited by injuries in each of his first two seasons.
But Bowers and Clayborn are both healthy now and the Bucs are betting they can provide a formidable pass rush. I think that can come to fruition if Bowers and Clayborn both can stay healthy.
If they can’t, Tampa Bay’s rebuilt secondary is going to have its hands full.