New defensive line Joe Cullen likes what he sees in terms of talent on the Bucs roster.
Finding a way for them to fit within the Lovie Smith-designed scheme and then coaching them to play up to their ability will be the challenge.
Defensive line coach Joe Cullen spoke to the media in a sit down session at One Buc on Wednesday and talked about a number of subjects including the ongoing talent evaluation, and the scheme they will employ.
Cullen was asked how far along his was in his evaluation of players and what excites him when he turns on the game film.
“I obviously know a lot of the guys because I’ve been in the league and I’ve gone through all the games,” Cullen said. “I’m still in the process of doing the evaluation but there are some really good guys to work with and I’m excited about that.
“Obviously, the thing that you want to have here is a guy up the middle and Gerald McCoy has really come into his own and has done a good job with the type of season that he’s had. He’s a relentless guy that plays every down as hard as he can and can disrupt the game like nobody in the league.”
One of the big question marks from many fans and the media is the strange lack of development from defensive end Da’Quan Bowers. The former Clemson star was virtually handed the starting role when Tampa Bay declined to re-sign Michael Bennett last spring, but Bowers rewarded the coaching staff and management by coming into training camp out of shape. Cullen is looking forward to seeing if he and his staff can get Bowers back on track.
I think the big thing is, coming into the NFL from college, this is a totally different game now,” Cullen said. “And usually in that third year, some guys blossom late, some blossom early. He’s done a lot of good things. I can’t comment on what he’s done here prior to me getting here and our staff getting here, so there are some things that I think he has, qualities, to a dominant defensive lineman. He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s strong and those are great qualities. He has all the qualities you look for, he really does. He’s been injured, missed some time.
“Some guys come in right away and have a major impact, other guys it takes time. (Former Jacksonville Jaguar) Jeremy Mincy was cut four times. He was out of the league in 2009, a sixth-round pick, so it’s a different situation, but within two years he had nine sacks and was a pretty good player for us (in Jacksonville).
“I wasn’t here last year, I know him, he did some great things at Clemson, done some really good things here and I’m really excited to work wit him. He’s a strong powerful player that at times shows that he can overpower tackles and tight ends.” Cullen went on to talk about some of the other defensive lineman on the roster.
“I really liked [Adrian] Clayborn coming out of Iowa and some of the things he did as a rookie and even last year, even though they were in different schemes, and he plays hard every down.
“Akeem Spence when he was coming out of Illinois, he was kind of thrown into the fire as a rookie but he did some really good things.
“(And with) [William] Gholston, there are some really good guys here. When I was up in Detroit he was a youngster. I have a Big Man camp that I usually do and he might have been involved in that as a junior high player or early high school player. but I’ve followed his progress, really liked him coming out. Met most of the guys, but I’m excited about him and liked what he did at Michigan State and some of what he did last year. He looks good, plays hard, did some good things as a rookie.”
A small pocket of Bucs fans have convinced themselves that former head coach Greg Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan invented stunting by defensive linemen, but Cullen said the Bucs will at times use the dreaded “S” word as part of the package to get pressure on the quarterback.
Each scheme is different,” Cullen said comparing Sheridan’s and head coach Lovie Smith’s. “We will use some stunting but we will also use the player against a one-on-one block. You can get after someone with a four-man rush, a seven-man rush, eight man, all out blitz, either way the play has to be effective, no matter what you’re doing. So we’ll do some of both.”
The former Lions and Browns defensive line coach, and close friend of Rod Marinelli, said the staff will be on the lookout for players that will fit the new scheme, but thinks there is a foundation already on the roster.
“The thing you want to look for is, how are they athletically , what are some for the things they do well, and obviously each scheme is different, so you have to try to look and see if this guys is playing hard, (and) does he do some of the things you like?
And like I said, most of these guys, I knew coming out of college so I have a great feel for them.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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