FAB 4. Gholston’s Versatility Helps At DT

Before we talk about Tampa Bay’s nose tackle situation and the role that Will Gholston will play inside this Sunday at New Orleans, let’s clear one thing up.

Vita Vea, the team’s first-round pick, is not a nose tackle. Vea is the backup three-technique tackle to six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.

Vea wasn’t slated to start next to McCoy this year. That distinction belongs to fifth-year nose tackle Beau Allen, who was a big free agent signing from Super Bowl champion Philadelphia in the offseason.

Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith and general manager Jason Licht prefer big nose tackles. So Allen, a big, tough 320-pounder, replaces Chris Baker, a fat, lazy 320-pounder.

Veteran Mitch Unrein was also signed to be Allen’s backup at the nose tackle position, but a severe concussion early in training camp has him starting the season on injured reserve. That leaves the Bucs perilously thin at the nose tackle and the three-technique tackle spot behind McCoy and Allen, especially this week with Vea still not practicing due to a severe calf strain.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and DT Beau Allen - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht and DT Beau Allen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

So the player Smith and defensive line coach Brentson Buckner will really lean on inside this Sunday is Gholston, who has been Tampa Bay’s starting left defensive end for the past few seasons. With Vinny Curry supplanting Gholston in the starting lineup, the big 6-foot-6, 280-pounder will show off his value and his versatility playing inside at defensive tackle – at least for the next few weeks.

Gholston has experience playing inside before. In 2015 he started in place of the injured McCoy against Atlanta and came up with a career-high two sacks of Matt Ryan playing the three-technique spot. In the preseason win over Detroit, Gholston got a sack playing nose tackle next to McCoy.

“It’s fun, it’s fun in there and it’s quick in there,” Gholston said. “You’ve got to be way more technique sound and I think that’s helped me in my overall game. My size does help, but its just speed. Everything is sped up. Like I said, you got to be way more technique sound because the slightest inch or leeway, you get busted out of your gap.

“But it’s fun playing inside. It was definitely fun to get that sack – not just because I was at nose tackle, but it was fun because it was against Detroit, my hometown. It’s always fun to get a sack against the home team.”

Gholston had a rough start at training camp at defensive end. Perhaps it was losing 25 pounds in the offseason and slimming down to 280 that made things difficult for Gholston, but when he had to move inside during the preseason games and play three-technique and nose tackle things started to click.

Bucs DEs Will Gholston and Jason Pierre-Paul - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs DEs Will Gholston and Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

“I told those guys that we are D-linemen and we are football players,” Buckner said when I asked about Gholston’s preseason. “So why would you lock yourself up and say, ‘I’m only going to be an end’? Okay, what if we have all these ends and all of a sudden we need a tackle? You should be able to get in there and play tackle. Will is showing his willingness to do it. Is it going to be perfect, no? But him being willing to go in there and trying to fight, yeah, it shows his versatility. I told him at the end of the day that the Bucs can only keep so many defensive linemen. Now he’s showing us – and everybody – that he can play end and he can play tackle. He’s a Swiss army knife.”

Smith appreciates Gholston’s position flexibility and his ability to make things happen inside.

“Will, with his length he can get deep, he can get into those windows into the pocket,” Smith said. “I think he’s shown steady improvement throughout our preseason work and he’s a guy that fits the build and fits the mold to able to play inside and outside.”

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter appreciates the fact that Gholston’s versatility means that the team didn’t have to go out and sign another new defensive tackle outside of Jerel Worthy.

“It helps lot – a lot,” Koetter said. “I mean the fact that Will’s versatility, you know, it’s much like an offensive lineman that can play guard or tackle or center and guard. Will has been effective as an inside player, and I’m sure we’ll continue to use him that way.”

Bucs DE Will Gholston - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Bucs DE Will Gholston – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Worthy earned a spot on the 53-man roster as a reserve after showing hunger and ability in the final two preseason games after being a recent addition in Tampa Bay.

“To have an opportunity to get a player like Worthy that has played in NFL games has been big for us,” Smith said. “He came in here with the right attitude. He’s a big, strong, athletic defensive tackle that has played in NFL games. He’s probably got a lot more plays than a lot of players on our defense, so he’s a guy that came in, and he earned a spot. He didn’t blink when we said, “Hey, we need you to play in this fourth preseason, we need you to do this in the second half.” He was workman-like and he’s been great since he’s been here. He’s a very strong, aggressive, defensive tackle that’s going to give up an opportunity to have a good rotation.”

The 6-foot-2, 298-pound Worthy began his career in Green Bay in 2012 and spent the last three years with Buffalo. He’s more of a run-stuffer than he is a pass rusher, evidenced by his 2.5 career sacks.

Because of his experience in the defense, Gholston will likely get more snaps on Sunday than Worthy at defensive tackle. With his height and long arms, the Bucs expect Gholston to play a role in disrupting New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees’ sight line in the pocket and perhaps bat a pass or two down at the line of scrimmage.

Bucs Gerald McCoy and Will Gholston – Photo by: Getty Images

“I just like being able to play and Coach Buck having confidence in me to go play anywhere,” Gholston said. “That’s what means the most to me – him having the confidence in my ability. It’s actually more fun playing inside. You get to see different looks, and you get to play something different. I don’t know, man. I just like playing.“

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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MichaelMyersIsABucsFan

8-8 is purgatory and would hopefully get Koetter and everyone else canned.

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tpeluso
1 year ago

8-8 with our schedule and Jameis being suspended would be exceeding reasonable expectations and would keep everyone around for sure.

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MichaelMyersIsABucsFan
Reply to  tpeluso

8-8 would be a let down. The talent around the QB is 11-5ish.

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surferdudes
1 year ago

Scott did you write your Fab 5 before watching last nights game? It looked to me like Ryan lost some zip on his arm. I was impressed with Philly’s D, but both offenses looked lost at times. Talk about red zone struggles, what’s up with that Atlanta? Although I still think our record might be 7-9, or 8-8, last nights game tells me that those two supposed power house teams are very beatable. It also shows that any given Sunday, right?

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jiggyjoe
1 year ago
Reply to  surferdudes

I watched the game last night and I saw two less than average teams slug it out. If we can score points we could beat both of those teams. I mean like 30 or more points.

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nitey
1 year ago

Scott, 5 pro bowl Bucs this year? Sorry, I’m not seeing it. Three tops if we are lucky and do make that 8-8 record you predicted. You might get 5 if we get to 10 or 11 wins, but I don’t see that in the cards. McCoy, Evans and maybe David this year. Kwon might make it as an alternate. That’s my take anyway.

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XpfcWintergreen2
1 year ago

Here are my thoughts as simply another fan. The window is closing on Drew Brees’ career. The time is now if he is going to have a chance to get one more Super Bowl ring. The Saints should be on a mission this year. The Saints will come out on top in the NFC South division. In order for us to get to 10-7 and into the playoffs we will have to have gone 4-2 within our division. There is is an outside chance we could split with the Saints and sweep either the Panthers or the Falcons. I am… Read more »

DonkeyHunter
1 year ago

“I WISH GRUDEN THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN OAKLAND AND LAS VEGAS, BUT THE BUCS ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT HIM. AS TAMPA BAY’S 2018 SEASON BEGINS, IT’S UP TO KOETTER TO PROVE ME – AND ULTIMATELY THE GLAZERS – RIGHT.”

GTFO with that nonsense.

Prove you right? You were leading the “Fire Koetter” campaign all off-season, while wearing your “I Love Chucky” boxers and fawning over Gruden’s supposed offensive greatness.

Go and enjoy the circus in Oakland and don’t forget your clown shoes.

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Jlog
Jlog
1 year ago

There is a real good chance that the Raiders have a better season than the Buc’s. As for personnel choice our future will be sealed when the Buc’s offer Winston a long term deal at the going QB rate, it’s just too high of percentage of the cap.

I don’t see us winning more than 5 games. Reality starts in just over 48 hours.

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athans5
1 year ago

Scott, I really need an explanation on something. So I read the part where you said that the Bucs see Vea as a three technique. To me he is the perfect size to be a nose tackle next to McCoy, but that’s just my opinion. If the Bucs feel differently that’s fine by me, that’s not my point. My point is this, if they see him as a three technique, did we really select a back up player on a team that desperately needs a playmakinf safety like Derwin James, who would be a Day 1 starter and leader in… Read more »

EastEndBoy
1 year ago

Thanks Scott. Overall, this really highlights the whole Licht problem for me. Vea and RoJo are nonexistent in your analysis of our potential success. Our best rookie is the 4th guy he selected? Our first pick (a top-12 gimme) was intentionally selected to be a back-up? That’s a horrible draft strategy. Your article really starts and ends at a similar point for me…Gruden should leave [all] personnel moves to somebody that has a better idea, and Licht should leave [at least the draft] to someone else as well. I will continue to give him credit (as I note you did… Read more »

Ringer
1 year ago

I remember all the fuss about the old guys Chucky brought in and that’s understandable. But at the same time we were relevant as we had our share of winning. Weren’t we a bit hamstrung too as we had to give up draft picks to get him here putting us in a position to have to rely on free agency? All im saying is that Gruden won at Oakland before he came to Tampa, won here with more regularity than we have been for the last 9 years before the mob fans got impatient and ran him off after the… Read more »

Naplesfan
1 year ago

Licht IS the bullet, and the Bucs didn’t dodge him. At least the Baby Glazers showed a glimmer of common sense by extending Licht only one season, limiting the dead money on his contract when they face reality and can him at the end of this season, along with Koetter and his coaching crew. As for Gruden, it is a little early to be crowing about dodged bullets. Gruden’s record as both a head coach and a talent evaluator is vastly better than the Licht/Koetter combo has produced over the last 5 years. We’ll count’em up come January, and compare… Read more »

Horse
1 year ago

Let the season begin! I’ve said enough for awhile. I hope we win them all. Go Bucs!

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tpeluso
1 year ago

I’m really curious what the financial situation in Oakland is like right now. Remember, they had to take out a $650 million loan to finance the Vegas stadium after Adelson backed out. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that the only reason they traded Mack was because they couldn’t afford to pay him at this specific moment in time (and that changes once the PSL money starts coming in).

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wnb0395
1 year ago
Reply to  tpeluso

You do realize the Raiders make around 350 mil a year in revenue. The Salary cap is only 177,000,000.00 for players. Even after all other expenses are paid they still clear 90,000,000.00 plus a year. To say they didn’t have the money is crazy. they just didn’t want to invest that much into 1 player. Mack is making 24 mil. roughly 1/7 of the cap. That is a lot to invest in 1 player not a QB.

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tpeluso
1 year ago
Reply to  wnb0395

You’re forgetting that the $650 million loan they took out is in *addition* to $500 million they had already pledged to pay towards the stadium absent of any other loans, in a three-year period beginning last fall. So that’s roughly $170 million per year going towards the stadium right now (and probably more in the first year or two, AKA right now, given that construction materials are routinely ordered well in advance) on top of player’s salaries and other normal operating expenses, and there still have been no PSLs sold for general seating to help cover things. It is NOT… Read more »

tpeluso
1 year ago
Reply to  tpeluso

(And yes, some of that $500 million came from the NFL, but it’s still easy to see a scenario where most if not all of the Raiders’ usual profit is going straight into the stadium.)

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wnb0395
1 year ago
Reply to  tpeluso

If that was the case they would be more than 13 mil under the cap and wouldn’t be able to afford to pay Gruden 10 mil a year. Obviously they aren’t worried about money when they have given out one of the largest contracts ever to a coach.

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matador
1 year ago

As usual I disagree with Scott. Comparing the roster Licht has concocted over five years versus the one Gruden has at the beginning of his first year is a joke. At least he didn’t blow up the OL in year one the way Licht did, a gigantic mistake he has never rectified and which continues to haunt the Bucs today. What did Gruden do? He focused on building up the lines with ALL FOUR of their first draft picks, including a LT in the first round. Many second-guessed the move but it’s already looking smart since Penn, the LT Licht… Read more »

Devasher
1 year ago

You know what’s going to get Licht fired, Scott? Results. And no amount of puff pieces you write or drum that you bang will be able to drown that out when it comes to a fan base that will be at best indifferent to another middling-or-worse season. Scott, I can’t tell if you’re aware of just how brainwashed you appear to be about the GM, but you like to cite the Derek Deese, Todd Steussie and Charlie Garner triumverate of free agent doom. So let’s go down memory lane Scott and see what those contracts were actually for in 2004:… Read more »

76Buc
1 year ago
Reply to  Devasher

You’re forgetting the time value of money.

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Devasher
1 year ago
Reply to  76Buc

I included the salary cap room and %. You could go with inflation rate but contracts aren’t as proportional to inflation but rather the cap. Allen’s triumverate that so bothers Scott totalled 11.4% of the cap. Licht’s players in 2014 comprised 27.2%. A significantly larger % of the cap for a team with one of the worst records in Bucs history. Even considering the cap in 2004 was 61% the size of the one in 2014, would you say that any of the 3.3 million dollar per annum deals that Scott cites in 04 is 60% of the behemoth contract… Read more »

fredster
1 year ago

Love Gruden but it’s true imo he’s terrible at building teams.

As far asPewterReport back tracking they were pretty clear on not taking Gruden when they learned price tag was 100 million and 10 years….

I’m on the fence with Licht. I agree with them extending 1 year and see what happens. To many big blunders that cost so many games with Agiayo etc.

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fredster
1 year ago

Aguayo

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seat26
1 year ago

9-7 Bucs miss playoffs, but Defense improves immensely. 38 sacks, 19 interceptions. Barber gets 900 yds, Winston misses 4000 yds by a hair. Evans has a record year, Godwin gets a 1000 yds.

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XpfcWintergreen2
1 year ago

I wouldn’t make too much of the Bucs’ depth chart at this point. First, I think it is in keeping with the philosophy Buckner has emphasized. A player should be a defensive lineman first, then maybe focus on a role. Second, I think the original plan was to have Vea cross trained so that he can possibly step in to replace Gmac whenever he departs the scene down the road. (That would be if they don’t succeed in finding a better replacement by then, somehow.) I would not be surprised to see him assume the starting place on Gmac’s right… Read more »

Naplesfan
1 year ago

Gruden was so bad at building teams that he only managed to build two that played each other in the Super Bowl … and produced more division championships and winning teams than any other coach/GM team in the history of the franchise.

I mean, with a record like that, how could it possibly get worse?

The Bucs know the answer to that question, and we the fans have been living it for the last decade.

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XpfcWintergreen2
1 year ago

As for not drafting Derwin James instead of Vita Vea.

Smith had some high praise for 2nd year free safety, Justin Evans, this week. Sounds like our organization has great expectations regarding him. (I, for one, was basically clueless on this going into the draft this year. I only had the idea that he might become our starter.)
__________________
Go Bucs!!!! No Excuses!

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buddah
1 year ago

Always a lot to argue about on this site. Enjoy life. Remember, the secret to sanity is to exaggerate the goodness of the world. So much anger and hostility in this digital age. Life is short. Make sure you take the time to smell the roses and spread some love. I do get the impression that quite a few of you would be disappointed if the Buccaneers beat the Saints. By the way, Matt Ryan showed last year that his skills were diminishing. He’s not the quarterback he was two or three years ago. The Falcons have a decent roster… Read more »

76Buc
1 year ago
Reply to  buddah

buddah, those are wise words, but this site has haters and haters love to hate.

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Devasher
1 year ago
Reply to  buddah

Interesting, the definition of sanity is: “the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner” But buddahs secret to sanity is to exaggerate goodness? That doesn’t sound to rational to me. Maybe you mean secret to happiness? If someone has cancer and they exaggerate how good they are feeling and fail to go to the doctor is that really the outcome you want? If you have a car that breaks down every month should you exaggerate how well the car is running and keep pumping money into fixing it? I agree that we should accept what we… Read more »

martinii
1 year ago

Good job Scott, Just a few comments. Loved Chucky when he took us to the SB, but I think the Game has changed and I feel like he may have a difficult time adjusting. Hope I’m wrong. Agree that ME and DJ will be standouts but think Chris Goodwin will steal the show this year. Worried about ruining game and one man does not make a team. Kalilh Mack needs to prove himself in the Bears D. We are talking NFC now.

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Mr. Incredible
1 year ago

Scott, what happened to your “Not won’t get fooled again.” mentality? Seems like you’re drinking allot of coo-laid all of a sudden. Challenging for playoffs? Playoffs? I just hope they win one of their first 4 games.

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drdneast
1 year ago

So many crazy and inaccurate statements made out here today it makes the head swim. Matt Ryan’s arm isn’t going soft, but I bet his body is pretty beat up after the beating he took last night. He was vertical almost as much as he was horizontal during that game. Which confirms what I have been saying adnauseum out here for the last five years. Constant pressure on the QB is the only way to beat guys like Brees, Brady, Ryan and Rogers. They will slice and dice you up if you let them get to comfortable in the pocket.… Read more »

Devasher
1 year ago
Reply to  drdneast

Lovie Smith had control over the final 53. Meaning that on cut down day Lovie could keep the players he wanted over what the GM would want (ie a coach is more likely to care about a contributing player than a draft pick the GM tied his name to that isnt). This clause in Lovie’s contract was bastardized by fans into the belief that Lovie was running personnel. If your premise was true why did Licht go from being one of the top contenders for the the Dolphins GM gig so he could take a job watching Lovie make roster… Read more »

fredster
1 year ago

Naples, Gruden built the Bucs 2002 Super Bowl team? Pretty sure he didn’t build that team or defense in 1 year. Lol. He was a very good offensive mind that took a Super Bowl caliber defense and made offense good enough to get over the hump and win that super bowl. Not like they weren’t close already they went to nfc championship game 1999.

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MrFootball
1 year ago
Reply to  fredster

If you remember Gruden had a LARGE part in getting both Superbowl teams to the finish line. That is a huge accomplishment. Dungy could not build an offense, proven by his colts tenure he just used what was there. Does that mean that was not Dungys team? No, just like the Bucs were Grudens team. Tampa would be better today with Gruden on our sidelines. And the press conferences would be much more entertaining.

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inspecto
1 year ago

” And the press conferences would be much more entertaining.”

fo sure

Go Bucs !!! Beat Philly

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