Yardbarker Horiz

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Defensive End?

Seems as soon as the final whistle blew in the Superdome to close the 2010 season, everyone was confident the Buccaneers would select a defensive end in the first round of the 2011 draft.

Most articles found on the topic dwell on the low number of sacks produced by the Buccaneers the past two seasons.  My question is:  So What??

The prototype defensive end in most Tampa Bay fan's minds is either Simeon Rice or Lee Roy Selmon.  Rice twice posted 15 sack seasons (2002, 2003) and produced five straight seasons with 10+ sacks.  Selmon, playing in a different era, also recorded double-digit sacks in a single (shorter) season, racking up 78 total over his nine year Hall of Fame career.

During the 2009 season and a 3-13 record, the Buccaneers as a team recorded 28.0 sacks.  In 2010, while posting a 10-6 record, the Buccaneers recorded 26.0 sacks.  Wait . . . huh?  Two fewer sacks but 7 more wins??

Eleven teams recorded more than 39 sacks in 2010. Of those 11, only three (Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Green Bay Packers) made it to the playoffs.  

Ten teams recorded more than 39 sacks in 2009.  Of those 10, five made the playoffs.

The New England Patriots, one of the most consistently successful teams of the last decade, has only finished in the top 10 in team sacks four times.  The Indianapolis Colts?  Just three times.

Sack count is not an indicator of a playoff team.  We already know the Buccaneers have a playoff caliber defense.  But apparently this is the one statistic many have latched onto as "the thing to fix" this offseason.

It's another symptom of "Fantasy Haze", that state of mind when Fantasy Football statistics become "real" in the minds of NFL Fans (and those covering the NFL) too much.

For reference, search for "Brandon Marshall Buccaneers 2010".  By the way, Marshall scored 3 TDs this season, while Buccaneers Rookie Mike Williams scored 11 TDs.  Good news:  GM Mark Dominik is a lot smarter than the average Fantasy GM.

So don't get too married to the idea of a Defensive End in the first round in 2011 for Tampa Bay.  It's not as big a need as some may believe.

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