The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were below mediocre at best when trying to get to the quarterback during the 2014 season. They finished tied for 21st in the league with 36 sacks. For comparison, the Philadelphia Eagles finished second in the league with 49 and they released the assistant coach -- with ties to the Bucs -- who also served as the team's pass rush coach.
Assistant coach Tra Thomas was released earlier this week from the Eagles' staff. In 2014, he worked directly with the front seven of the Philadelphia defense where 26.5 of the 49 sacks came from the linebackers and defensive linemen.
Thomas started out as an offensive assistant intern in 2013 before being moved to working with the pass rushers last season. Via NJ.com, Thomas talked about the success his group had after the switch was made.
"I was working with Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham and Trent Cole teaching them how to get to the quarterback," Thomas said. "I was a little bit surprised [to be let go]. Just because when you look at that group and where they were last year, they put up 16 sacks. Then you switch me over and I start working for them and we put up 26.5 sacks. Connor Barwin went from five sacks to 14.5 sacks.
"I was a little surprised because you could look at the numbers and see that there was improvement in that group."
As Thomas looks to continue his coaching career, he says he has reached out to teams across the league and offered his services. One of them being the Bucs, speaking with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. The two know each other from when Frazier with the Eagles as their secondary coach from 1999 to 2002. Thomas was Philadelphia's offensive tackle from 1998 to 2008.
We all saw the struggles with defensive end Michael Johnson and others last season when trying to get to the quarterback. The only one that was consistently applying pressure was Gerald McCoy. With Philadelphia's struggling front seven before Thomas took over, the Bucs would be wise to at least consider Thomas even though there was a different defensive system in place in Philadelphia.
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