The Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to cut one of their long-time starters in Gerald McCoy recently. That left a void on the interior of their defensive line, but they didn’t waste time to replace the veteran defensive tackle with Ndamukong Suh.
Tampa Bay signed Suh to a one-year deal after he spent a couple of months waiting for a team to be interested in his services. Therefore, Suh’s tenure with the Los Angeles Rams ended after just one season with the franchise.
Last season, Suh played nose tackle for the Rams, a position that the veteran defensive tackle isn’t used to playing. For the majority of his career, Suh has served as a pass-rushing defensive tackle in a 4-3 system.
Suh was able to dominate for the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins due to playing in 4-3 schemes. In 2018, Suh had a career-low in sacks with just 4.5 and had a career-low in tackles for loss with just four.
The Buccaneers are hoping they can help rejuvenate Suh’s career at 32 years old. Here are three bold predictions for Ndamukong Suh with the Buccaneers in 2019.
3. 20+ Tackles for Loss
For the vast majority of Suh’s career, he’s spent most of the time on the field in the opponent’s backfield. Except, in 2018, where he struggled to make plays in the backfield for the Rams.
Again, Suh was asked to play a position that he doesn’t have any experience with. Wade Phillips and the Rams run a 3-4 defensive scheme, thus why Suh was moved to nose tackle.
The Rams run defense suffered in part of Suh playing in the middle of the interior of the defensive line. As a result, Los Angeles ranked 23rd against the run in 2018.
Suh never got going consistently in Los Angeles and both sides agreed it was best to move on. Now, Suh finds himself in Tampa Bay where he will be a vital part of their defensive line immediately.
In 2019, the nine-year veteran is thrust back into a system that he feels comfortable in. The talented defensive tackle will return close to his prior form in 2019. Last season, Suh only managed to get four tackles for loss but he will get 20 or more in 2019 for the first time since 2014.
2. 7+ Sacks
The best part of Suh’s game is his ability to get to the quarterback. In 2018, Suh didn’t get many opportunities to be himself, a pass-rushing specialist at defensive tackle.
This year will be different for the veteran defensive tackle. It’s likely that Todd Bowles will ask a lot out of Suh with the departure of Gerald McCoy. Suh fits a system that all0ws him to get after the quarterback as much as possible.
Todd Bowles was hired as the new defensive coordinator of the Buccaneers this offseason. Bowles was probably the main reason why Suh decided to sign with Tampa Bay.
Bowles runs a defensive system that incorporates the 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes. It all depends on the personnel and where Bowles sees a player fitting in. That should be music to Suh’s ears for the 2019 season.
Undoubtedly, Bowles is going to use 4-3 sets on defense to allow Suh to excel on defense. This will allow Suh to get seven or more sacks for the first time since his last All-Pro season in 2014.
1. Suh Will Help Tampa Bay Be Top-10 in Sacks
In 2018, Tampa Bay ranked 19th in sacks in the NFL with 38 of them. Jason Pierre-Paul led the team with 12.5 sacks but he likely won’t see much of the field—if he does at all—in 2019.
Pierre-Paul was involved in a car crash that fractured his vertebrae. The talented pass-rusher elected not to get surgery on his vertebrae, but he will begin the season on the non-football injury list. Bruce Arians said the best-case scenario sees Pierre-Paul coming back in October/November.
Therefore, there’s a huge hole to fill on the defensive line. Adding Suh helps the pass rush a decent bit, along with the addition of Shaquil Barrett this offseason. Barrett spent all five of his seasons with the Denver Broncos behind guys like Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, and Bradley Chubb.
Again, Suh is at the top of his game when he has the opportunity to rush the quarterback. With Bowles defense and the play of Suh, the Buccaneers are going to surprise people and rank top-10 in sacks in the NFL. How’s that for a bold prediction?