You’ll hear it first whenever someone defends the Bucs…
“They’ve got a lot of injuries”
“EVERY Team has Injuries”
And thats true, kind of hard for the Bucs to claim hurt when their offensive line has started all 8 games together. Even harder when the starting QB Jameis Winston has started every game he has played in.
The Vikings started the season out losing Adriane Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater, and in spite of their skid recently remain in contention for the NFC North. Buffalo Bills have had to do without Sammy Watkins, Steelers lost Martavis Bryant to suspension for the year, but the beat goes on.
Yet for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, injuries seem to be more of an epidemic. Mike James was brought in to help out at running back, but he was one of the first casualties, being waved Sept. 7th injured. While that was more of a roster move, it started to get serious.
Jacquies Smith was the first on the Defensive Line to go early September, but surprisingly the Bucs didn’t miss him early getting heat on the QB with Robert Ayers. The Running back position specifically has been the hardest hit, but between the D Line and RB, Tampa Bay has had to play games several positions deep without Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers, Clinton McDonald, and its hurt the bottom line as the passing defense has suffered in recent weeks.
While the D Line is getting back to normal strength, the Running Back corp is abysmal.
- Doug Martin- OUT
- Charles Sims- Injured Reserve
- Jacquizz Rodgers- OUT
- Antone Smith- Injured Reserve
Its a testament to the health and run blocking of the offensive line that the Bucs are running the ball as the 15th ranked Rush attack. Last year the Bucs finished ranked 5th in rushing offense behind the season long steady running of Doug Martin, who the first year into his new contract has now been injured 3 of his 5 years with the team. Judging how the running game was successful with Rodgers, the money given to Martin could be yet another recent stain on the resume of GM Jason Licht.
Solid in his first two years, the 2016 season is showing kinks in Licht’s armor. Trading up to draft Roberto Aguayo in the 2nd round is a move better made for a team close to competing for Super Bowls or deeper into the playoffs, not for teams looking to stock up on talent. Yet Licht has always been honorable in his mistakes as he doesnt die by them, merely shrugging them off early upon recognition and moving on from them.
If only the Bucs could shrug off the Injury Bug; Head Coach Dirk Koetter and Strength coach Dave Kennedy are looking into the possibility that they can learn from these instances, and that they’re examining data. Kennedy can’t be solely to blame as many of the injuries are of an impact variety, although soft tissue ones could be on the list.
Hopefully the examiners dont trip on carpet or get a bad case of hang nail!
STRENGTH COACH KENNEDY AT A GLANCE
1982-85, Nebraska, Student Assistant Strength Coach
1986-88, Nebraska, Assistant Strength Coach
1989-2001, Ohio State, Head Strength Coach
2002-03, Pittsburgh, Head Strength Coach
2004-07, Nebraska, Head Strength Coach
2008-12, Texas A&M, Head Strength Coach
2014-, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach