Over the next two weeks I will be previewing each position as only a Pollock can, with a complete inattention to detail and a shocking lack of research. And since I’m sure many of my viewers are of the fantasy football ilk, I will slant the previews to ensure you know everything to draft a winning team (as long as you only draft Bucs). Enjoy.
What will Dewayne White do this year? The Buc’s second round pick is heading into his fourth year and has shown flashes of brilliance but has failed to move up the depth chart.
Despite the outstanding play of his teammates on the defensive line, Greg Spires (White’s competition for the right end spot) suffered a drop in performance last season. Two seasons ago Spires strength was his run-stuffing. But last season Spires was one of the worst defensive ends against the run according to Scientific Football 2006. Using SF ‘06’s metrics Spires had the worst Success % against the run (10.2%) of 71 ranked defensive ends. Which essentially means Spires was not beating most of his blocks.
Players . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Success % against the run
Booger McFarland . . . . . . . 28.6%
Ellis Wyms . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.5%
Simeon Rice . . . . . . . . . . . 20.6%
Chris Hovan . . . . . . . . . . . 14.7%
Greg Spires . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.2%
While these stats only tell part of the story (especially since White is not listed in SF ’06) they clearly show Spires needs to pick up his performance to hold off White. I expect Spires to hold onto the starters job for the beginning of this season, but White will see more playing time as the season progresses. Spires has barely held onto the right end job in previous years and, more importantly, will come at a higher price tag next season than White.
The rest of the best: a quick glance at the remaining starters
The Bucs resurgence last season can be directly attributed to the addition of Chris Hovan. The Tampa Two defense the Bucs run is dependent on the front four creating pressure on the quarterback while also holding up against the run. With Booger frequently out with injuries, defenses where free to double team Simeon in the years between Warren Sapp’s departure and Hovan’s arrival. Hovan was average in his pass rushing but excelled at plugging up the middle.