“We’re Not The Rays”December 17th, 2013
You groom and develop talent, and then you re-sign that talent. It’s a simple formula that works in football where there’s a level spending playing field among teams, unlike in baseball.
Former Bucs tight end Anthony Becht, who works for ESPN and the Buccaneers Radio Network, remains flummoxed by the Bucs’ deviation from that plan.Speaking passionately about the future of the Bucs last night on WDAE-AM 620, Becht talked a lot about a plan for the Bucs to land a strong edge pash rusher next season. He also wanted to remind Bucs fans that quest didn’t have to be a priority for 2014.
“Whether there was head-knocking [between Bucs management and Michael Bennett] or whatever it was, he came out and fought for this team last year every single week. He got us 10 sacks; he was our best run stopper at the defensive line position. And to me that warranted a way to work it out and keep him here. You’re talking about growing a line,” Becht said. “And I know it’s last year and we don’t want to talk about that stuff, but where are you going to find guys like that? That’s how you do it. You groom them. You get them ready. They have the huge year when it counts at contract time, and then they have one, and then you go push them away. I mean, we’re not the Rays, right? We’re not pushing talent away; we can afford some of these guys. We made a mistake there.”
Becht agreed with host Tom Krasniqi that the Bucs are an edge rusher away from being a top-5 defense, saying the presence of that player would open things up more for Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David. DaQuan Bowers isn’t that guy, but Becht isn’t sure No. 91 is the failure in his third season that many believe him to be.
“I don’t know necessarily that he’s failed. I haven’t seen enough. I don’t know if they used him as much to find out whether he would fail or not,” Becht said. “You know when you get in there in just third down situations or you come in as limited a time as he has, I’ve got to see a bigger set of plays from him.”
“To say that he’s been a colossal failure, I’m not quite sure.”
Joe can’t agree completely with Becht on Bowers. The guy came into the NFL hurt and the Bucs went easy on his knee in 2011. Last spring, he blew his Achilles and returned with limited success. This summer, Bowers admitted to being out of shape because he didn’t fully understand the rigors of training camp. Then Greg Schiano tried to play him into shape in preseason, which left Bowers exposed on the field struggling to beat second- and third-team offensive linemen. And then Bowers has been banged up this season and can’t beat out Daniel Te’-O Nesheim or Will Gholston.
If that doesn’t add up to the “B” word for a second-round pick, Joe’s not sure what would.
However, Bowers is 23 years old with a big body and a good attitude. He’s entering a contract year, and Joe sees no reason not to bring him back next summer. Perhaps the light will go on.
On Bennett, Joe agrees with Becht. Bennett seemed like a simple call. He was wildy successful within Schiano’s defense and didn’t command a lot of cash on a one-year deal — an apparent no-brainer, regardless of his questionable shoulder.
Joe’s confident that if the Bucs plan to challenge for the NFC South crown next season, then they need to buy a top pass rusher. When you miss in the draft at a position, that’s what you have to do. And there’s no evidence that the Bucs hit a homerun with Bowers and Adrian Clayborn, and combined with the loss of Bennett, they’ve got to go shopping.