There’s been plenty of question surrounding the Bucs’ defensive line heading into the season, debates over who will play where and if edge rushers can move inside for certain packages. On Wednesday, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald said to expect different shifts – praising the versatility of Will Gholston and Robert Ayers – but made it clear that the end goal, no matter who’s lined up where, will never change.
“Like coach (DL coach Jay) Hayes says, ‘Whoever can get to the quarterback’” McDonald said. “He says it doesn’t matter if you have four defensive tackles or four ends out there, whoever can get to the quarterback is who they’re looking for.”
Getting to the quarterback consistently has been the defense’s Achilles heel for some time. Since McDonald arrived in 2014, the Bucs have recorded 74 sacks over the last two years – a middle of the pack mark, but with hardly any consistency. He knows the trend has to change and he’s confident the defense is ready to right the ship.
According to McDonald, success comes with team identity made up by a mixture of personalities – which is exactly what he thinks the Bucs have in 2016.
“It always comes down to how the group works well together,” McDonald said. “I think this group right here that we have, everybody is bringing their own personality and characteristics to the group. That adds to that flavor that a team needs to say, ‘We’re going to be a great team; we’re going to be cohesive in what we do.’
“After a while, when you here a broken record so many times, you’re ready to change the record,” he continued on getting sacks. “It comes down to us as players and mature pros to say, ‘You know what, if this is what we want to be then this is what we have to go after.’ It’s time for us to step up our game, bring some wins to the Tampa Bay area and have everyone around here proud of us and ready to where a red and pewter hat.”
One of main reasons for McDonald’s confidence is Hayes. The eighth-year pro played his first two seasons under Hayes in Cincinnati and remembers Hayes’ attention-to-detail-type approach, one that allows him to “sniff out bad habits.”
“He’s a proactive coach,” McDonald said. “He teaches you how to use your tools – emphasizes your hands, your footwork, fundamentals – the things that you really need in the middle of battle to break away, get a sack or a TFL (tackle for loss) or something like that to elevate your game.”
McDonald said that Hayes is the same guy he was in Cincinnati, which is the mark of a good person. “Good people keep the same characteristics and don’t change,” McDonald said. “He’s the same Jay Hayes from back in the day.”
From Gholston’s and Ayers’ flexibility, to Noah Spence’s “rare talent” and “X-factor”-like presence along the D-Line, McDonald is optimistic that, under Hayes’ guidance, the Bucs defensive line will finally be a force this season.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
I’m from Missouri.
Gee, It always sounds so good when the team is 0-0.
Realism is always a healthy thing. Realism and fandom can clash, however.
Sometimes, when all the right words are being said, it is necessary to listen for those subtle differences in tone to realize if there is really something there.
My expectations are higher this year based on some things I thought I saw last season. If I am merely “hearing what I want to hear” and “seeing what I want to see” then we are in for another disappointing and disastrous year.
I don’t think so.
In one paragraph:
here = hear
where = wear
Ever consider proofreading or spellcheck or going to college?
Well on a more positive note…..I actually see this defense coming together this season. I think we WILL have a more consistent pass rush and pressure. More sacks are always welcome. Go Buc’s.
This is a blog, not a college freshman English composition class.
Give it a rest.
Dy-nastyD=Anal retentive jerk.
In all fairness to Dy-nastyD, these guys do get paid to write these articles. So spelling and grammar should be on point. Although he was a bit harsh about it. I too, often spot these things in articles on this site.
Being an almost life-long Bucs fan, I often see things through pewter colored lenses. That being said, I am pretty excited about the coming season. I love the defensive coaching additions of Mike Smith and Jay Hayes, I think our D will be much better because of those two. I can realistically see a 10 win season as well as the begining of many good things to come, including reclaiming the NFC South!
Mike Smith may just end up being the biggest offseason acquisition for us. I hope he can stay for more than a few years and doesn’t jump ship at the first HC offer that comes his way. We need our core group to be able to grow and flourish in a system that stays the same for more than a year or two, and this one may just be the one that takes us where we need to go. I am really excited about VHIII and what he may be able to do in this defense. For once our defensive backfield actually seems to have depth and the will to succeed. Hopefully our back end can hold up their part of the deal. This season is going to be a very interesting one to be a part of. It either ends up in disaster again or ends up being the pleasant surprise that we are all hoping it will be. Lets get after the QB this year finally and let everything else fall into place behind it.
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