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michael89156

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: August 09, 2012, 08:18:21 PM

Tom Jones' Two Cents: Tampa Bay Bucs' pass rush just a gaping hole on defense

 By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
 In Print: Thursday, August 9, 2012



Excited about the Bucs? Optimistic about new coach Greg Schiano? Encouraged the team is on the right track?

Sorry, but can we hit the pause button just for a moment?

While the Bucs loaded up on offense in the offseason, it was the defense that was the chief culprit in last season's 4-12 nightmare. And they did not address the weakest link on that broken chain of a defense: the pass rush.

Two seasons ago, the Bucs recorded only 26 sacks and somehow they were even more feeble last season with a league-low 23. Now get ready for the really bad news: The pass rush might be even worse this season.

Here are five reasons you should really be concerned about the Bucs' pass rush in 2012.



The stars have yet to be stars

Let's start with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. This isn't a guy plucked off the waiver wire or some undrafted free agent out of IDidn'tKnowTheyHadAFootballTeam A&M. We're talking about the third overall pick in the 2010 draft. Third overall picks are supposed to be beasts. They're supposed to be monsters. They're supposed to be difference-makers, game-changers, the type of player you build a defense around.

When McCoy (right) was drafted out of Oklahoma, a few folks even had him rated higher than the second overall pick that year, Ndamukong Suh, who has 14 sacks in 30 games with the Lions.

Know how many sacks McCoy has had? Four, in 19 career starts. He played only six games last season, and we should cut him some slack for being in the middle of a crummy defense. He isn't exactly anchoring the '85 Bears or '76 Steelers. And I suppose we need to recognize that he is playing for his second head coach, second defensive coordinator and third position coach, all in just his third season.

"Change is always hard,'' McCoy said, "but I'm used to it.''

Used to it? Maybe. Thriving despite it? Not really. Not like a No. 3 overall pick should. Not like a guy who signed a five-year, $63 million contract.

Then there's defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. He's sidelined with a torn Achilles tendon and, no matter what anyone says, will be a long shot to play this season. The Bucs knew full well Bowers was a high-risk pick because of injury questions. In fact, it's why he went from being a projected high first-rounder to the 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft.

Still, his nation-best 15 sacks at Clemson in 2010 had Tampa Bay dreaming he could stay on the field long enough to be a sack machine in the league. He played all 16 games last season and even made six starts, but he recorded only 1 sacks.



The rest isn't exactly the best

What do the Bucs have after Gerald McCoy on the defensive line?

Well, there's defensive end Adrian Clayborn (top). Actually, he's the best hope when it comes to chasing opposing quarterbacks. He led the team with 7 sacks last season. There's defensive end Michael Bennett (middle), who has six career sacks in 34 games, and defensive tackle Roy Miller (bottom), who has three in 47.

On paper, the defensive line figures to be worse than last year, when the team finished dead last in the NFL with only 23 sacks. (Vikings defensive end Jared Allen had 22 all by himself.) Worse, because defensive end Da'Quan Bowers will have little, if any, impact this season. Worse, because the team parted ways with 2010 second-round pick Brian Price.

Oh, about getting rid of Price: What were the Bucs thinking?

The defensive tackle has issues. I get that. For the moment, he had become unreliable physically and emotionally, partly because of off-the-field tragedies. He scuffled with teammate Mark Barron because Barron was sitting in the wrong chair. That's not normal behavior.

Perhaps the team grew tired of the drama. Maybe coach Greg Schiano wanted no more distractions or problems. But unless there was something more behind the scenes that we don't know about, Price didn't seem so far gone that he couldn't be salvaged. He's only 23, for goodness sakes, way too young and talented to give up on, especially for a team that could really use young and talented.

The Bucs did go out and get tackles Amobi Okoye and Gary Gibson, but both have missed time with injuries during camp.



Don't count on coverage sacks

There's no reason to believe the secondary is so good that it can cover receivers long enough for coverage sacks. Rookie strong safety Mark Barron has never started an NFL game. Ronde Barber has started plenty of NFL games, but not one at free safety, where he is expected to play this season.

At corner, Eric Wright is going to have to prove he is an effective cover man before he can be called an effective cover man. For my money, Aqib Talib is the best football player on the team, assuming he can stay out of taxicabs, off the injury list and on the field. But he can't cover everyone by himself.



No other help

Not all quarterback pressure has to come from the D-line. The linebackers can chip in. Just think of Dallas' DeMarcus Ware or Baltimore's Terrell Suggs or San Francisco's Aldon Smith. But the Bucs don't have a Ware or a Suggs. What they have is a Quincy Black and a Mason Foster (above). They combined for two sacks last season, both by Foster. They also have Lavonte David, a rookie. Don't expect any help from the linebackers when it comes to pressuring the quarterback.



The schedule is loaded with superstar QBs

Maybe the team could get by with a subpar pass rush if it had a schedule of subpar quarterbacks. That's not the case. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton are each on the schedule twice. Then there's (starting from top left) Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick and Sam Bradford. That's 12 of 16 games against what you would consider good to elite NFL quarterbacks, and that doesn't include Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III.

The Bucs will go into that murderers' row of a schedule with an unproven-at-best pass rush unless something changes in the next few weeks.

"We're always looking outside,'' coach Greg Schiano said. "I believe in that. We're always looking to see if you can make things better.''

From the looks of things, it doesn't appear as if it can get much worse.

1sparkybuc

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#1 : August 09, 2012, 09:11:56 PM

There is talent on this defense. What was lacking was experience, healthy players, and decent leadership and coaching. Not asking for excuses, just an objective and honest report. Maybe Tom Jones will get better next year. I'm sure the Bucs will.

Hate

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#2 : August 09, 2012, 09:17:06 PM

There is talent on this defense. What was lacking was experience, healthy players, and decent leadership and coaching. Not asking for excuses, just an objective and honest report. Maybe Tom Jones will get better next year. I'm sure the Bucs will.

agree on all counts!!

-------------------------------------------------------
   

 I thought Lovie said he wanted quickness & speed, even at the QB position?

NotDeadYet

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#3 : August 09, 2012, 09:41:15 PM

    The Bucs were probably the worst blitzing team last year I've seen; almost NEVER even sniffed the QB. I think that's gonna change.  No, we don't have the D'line pedigree many other teams have, but the potential is there in the D'line. It'll come in time...

Boid Fink

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#4 : August 09, 2012, 09:45:56 PM

Until it happens, I ain't buying your brand.

Otherwise, we have the same duds. 

Gotta see it first.


GoldsonAges

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#5 : August 09, 2012, 10:50:28 PM

No mention of playing with a 3 man front with 4-3 personnel?

That is #1 on the list of stuff that hasn't worked and will never work.

Mike Glennon
6\' 7\" 220 pounds.
6\' 6\" 210
6\' 5\" 200
6\' 4\" 190 6\' 3\" 180 6\' 2\" 170 6\' 1\" 160  6\' 0\" 150 How does he compare to your favorite QB?

Guy Fontenot

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#6 : August 10, 2012, 12:17:37 AM

This is one of the dumbest articles I've ever read.  I can completely agree they have a lot to prove but this really comes off as a trolling article.  He basically says we should give up on every current d-lineman on the team since they haven't proven anything, but it was a terrible mistake to give up on Brian Price.  Also, he says the "linebackers can chip in" with the pass rush, then proceeds to list 3 pass rushing LB specialists from 3-4 teams.  They're not "chipping in" that's nearly entirely their job.  Has this guy ever watched football?

BucBalla85

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#7 : August 10, 2012, 12:28:15 AM

Clayborn and Gmac need to step up big this year. Live up to those first round picks.

CaptainStagger

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#8 : August 10, 2012, 12:37:59 AM

The sack totals will improve as will the over all pressure for a few reasons.

1) Scheme - The players have all made comments to the media about the aggressive attacking nature of Schiano's D.  What we might be lacking from the front four we will make up from the back 7. 4-3 with a heavy dose of blitz to
manufacture rush. Sounds like a Jim (not Jimmy) Johnson mold.

2) Coaching - Don't discount the the focus on fundamentals, discipline, and technique.

3) Health - McCoy, Miller, and Price all out or playing injured in 2011.

4) Effort - Without question this team quit and mailed it in after the bears game, I am not expecting the same meltdown this year. 


JDouble

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#9 : August 10, 2012, 07:10:43 AM

I don't expect our defense to be great this year, mainly because I don't think we have the talent on the D-line. However, I think this article completely under appreciates our LBs. Mason foster struggled last year, but he did have two and quite a few pressures which is good for a 4-3 MLB. He looked like a natural pass rusher when  asked to. Dekoda Watson is probably the best natural pass rusher on the team besides Clayborn. David has an incredible knack for shedding blocks and shooting gaps to get in the back field. I just think there is a good chance we get 10 to 15 sacks from our linebackers this year and that shouldn't be discounted.

As far as the defensive line, I think we'll be drafting guys early next year. I don't think we have the type of guys that Schiano wants up front.


JC5100

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#10 : August 10, 2012, 07:21:04 AM

There is talent on this defense.

I don't see what you're seeing. This is one of the worst defenses on paper in the NFL and the worst front 7.

chace1986

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#11 : August 10, 2012, 08:53:26 AM

There is talent on this defense.

I don't see what you're seeing. This is one of the worst defenses on paper in the NFL and the worst front 7.

Sad, but true. When comparing to a lot of other NFL front sevens...the "talent" that has been seen so far, doesn't measure up. I wouldnt be at all surprised if this D is as bad as it was last year.


Feel Real Good

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#12 : August 10, 2012, 09:03:46 AM

There is talent on this defense.

I don't see what you're seeing. This is one of the worst defenses on paper in the NFL and the worst front 7.
Agreed. The Bucs have talent compared to college teams, but compared to the other NFL teams, it's not so good. Just look inside the division. You have who the Bucs have and then the other teams have Charles Johnson, Jon Beason, Luke Kuechly, John Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux,  Sean Weatherspoon, Will Smith, Sedrick Ellis, Brodrick Bunkley, Curtis Lofton, and David Hawthrone. How many Bucs players are you picking over those players?

FRG is the most logical poster on this board.  You guys just don\'t like where the logical conclusions take you.

JDouble

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#13 : August 10, 2012, 10:05:02 AM

Unproven isn't untalented though. Clayborn, Barron, and David could end up being better than the players you just listed.


dalbuc

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#14 : August 10, 2012, 11:54:02 AM

5 reasons: That would be our 4 starting DL and top backup can't produce sacks consistently. Until they prove they can we have no effective pass rush.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.
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