Bucs DT Gerald McCoy - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
It’ll be experience versus younger talent in the trenches Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs starting defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald will be lining up opposite a trio of Denver Broncos interior offensive linemen making names for themselves early in their careers.
Left guard Max Garcia (second year), center Matt Paradis (second year) and right guard Michael Schofield (third year) make up the core of an offensive line that is, as a whole, the NFL’s sixth least experienced in terms career starts (141). Over half of those starts (75) come from seventh-year veteran left tackle Russell Okung. Right tackle Donald Stephenson is in his fifth year but will not play because of a calf injury for the second straight week. He’ll be replaced again by another youngster, second-year Ty Sambrailo.
Through three games, the Broncos’ unit has managed to impress after facing two of the league’s better defenses in Carolina and Cincinnati while also helping break in new starting quarterback Trevor Siemian. Denver comes to Tampa Bay 3-0 and the line has kept Siemian’s jersey relatively clean in the process. The second-year signal caller has been sacked five times and only taken 14 hits.
If the Bucs want to stop the early season bleeding and notch an upset win over the defending Super Bowl champs, breaking down the Broncos’ protection and not letting Siemian get comfortable in the pocket could go a long way.
That’s something Tampa Bay hasn’t been able to accomplish with consistency, however. After registering three sacks and eight quarterback hits during a Week 1 win in Atlanta, the Bucs totaled two sacks and six quarterback hits the following two Sundays.
“I think we’re dead average, to be quite frank,” defensive coordinator Mike Smith said of the pass rush. “We’re not rushing the quarterback near at the level that we need to. It doesn’t matter who’s out there, it doesn’t matter how many guys are not there, we’ve got to go out and put pressure on the quarterback. And it’s not going to be just one guy, it’s going to an effort by the entire line and it’s going to be what the secondary is doing as well.”
Injuries to defensive ends Jacquies Smith and Robert Ayers Jr. have the Bucs’ edge rush depleted, leaving the Big Mac duo inside with a larger responsibility to create disruption. McCoy and McDonald have combined for 20 tackles this season, but only one sack and two quarterback hits – both courtesy of McCoy.
Tampa Bay struggled to affect Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum in the pocket last week and McCoy attributed part of that to discipline issues.
“Guys just really need to trust in each other,” the three-time All-Pro said. “It’s a new defense, you’re trying to get it down yourself and you’re trying to learn the ins and outs of what you can and can’t do, what you can and can’t get away with. If you miss doing that, you’re putting your teammate at risk and you’re hurting yourself by doing that. I think guys just got antsy last week, trying to make a play instead of doing the things it takes to make a play, which is just do your job. If you’ve got the B Gap, stay in the B Gap. If you’re supposed to come downhill in the A [Gap], get in the A. If y’all are supposed to switch in the back end, then switch. It will work. We’re just getting to that point.”
Anyone seen Clinton McDonald? This guy seems to be invisible to me. There should now be enough film on this Trevor Siemien kid. How does an afterthought 7th round 2015 draft pick, who did little to dissuade Elway from drafting Paxton Lynch in the 1st round this year, have so much early success? Because he is able to play with little internal pressure thanks to his stellar defense and little external pressure thanks to a game plan designed to keep him from screwing it up. Maybe if #98 shows up and gets in Trevor’s face, the youngster will have a few less than shining moments.
Trever’s success is do in large part to that young talented line. A lot like us in that respect. I don’t see our guys getting there with four. Time to dial up some blitz’s the young Q.B. hasn’t seen yet, us either. At some point we can’t blame coaches, and scheme for our poor D line play, Cullen, and now Hayes are regarded as to of the best. It’s up to our players to get the job done.
Agree, if we go about our same defensive plan we will lose and it will probably be embarrassing. I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe i have seen enough that we don’t have the players to make whatever M. Smith is trying to accomplish. Picking up older free agents and not drafting enough DE’s is a big concern for me.
What McCoy is saying is the defense isn’t disciplined. Big surprise. That’s been a problem around here for years and we keep blaming the coaches.
I’m really not sure picking up over the hill FA’s is the answer Horse unless it is someone like Dwight Freeney, who is of course with Atlanta. Now signing him would have made sense, especially now and he wasn’t expensive, either.
Although the front four haven’t been putting enough pressure on the QB, I’m not sure blitzing is going to correct the problem if players aren’t hitting the right gaps. It could just make it worse.
The biggest problem so far has been the CB’s not knowing what coverages they are in. You would think better communication would solve that unless they don’t understand the coverages themselves.
I don’t think any of those guys hang out at the local MENSA chapter.
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