Either Da’Quan Bowers Or Adrian ClaybornJune 2nd, 2014
An initial goal for Lovie Smith when he took over was to find a way to build what had been an anemic pass rush. It was downright criminal how the Bucs simply couldn’t breath on opposing quarterbacks. Shameful in fact.
Poor Gerald McCoy. The dude got double- and triple-teamed week after week and rarely got any help.
Part of the reason for the pathetic pass rush was the poor play by highly drafted players, defensive ends Da’Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn. Bowers was handed the starting left defensive end job when then-Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik let sack-leader Michael Bennett walk away for no good reason. So moved by being handed a starting job, Bowers responded by reporting to training camp out of shape and, at times, was only rumored to be on the active roster, not to mention his gun-hassle in New York.
Clayborn, Joe will cut some slack. He was coming off a nasty knee surgery and he played on a defense that was so psychotic in nature and twisted in practice that once Clayborn’s responsibility was to cover speedster Darren Sproles in pass coverage, if you can imagine such a thing.
Former Bucs tight end Anthony Becht believes the clock is ticking for one of the two defensive ends. In a recent spot on the always educational “Movin’ the Chains,” with co-hosts Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller, heard exclusively on SirusXM NFL Radio, Becht said there is only room for one of the aforementioned two defensive ends on the Bucs 53-man roster come September.
Pat Kirwan: Clayborn and our other friend, Bowers, both of those deals are going to expire [after this season]. Where are they, in your mind? We all know [Gerald] McCoy is an elite player at this point. Where are the other two?
Anthony Becht: Well, you know, I like Clayborn’s game, I like his physicality. When he plays, he plays with physical-ness and toughness. I think that is something that Lovie is going to see and admire on a gameday basis. I think with Da’Quan Bowers, they have been kind of waiting for him. I think there has been built-in excuses, really, for both of these guys. I think both of those guys are going to be competing for one spot. The first guy to live up to expectations… that guy will stick around. It is all about production. I don’t think Lovie cares who the guy is going to be. It is all about getting it done with his style and his way of doing things on defense. I would give the edge to Clayborn and I think one of those guys will rise up and get that left defensive end position. It is there for the grabbing. That guy can have a big year when you talk about the other pieces [being] on the defense.
Joe would have to guess Clayborn has the inside track, as well. Often, it takes a big guy nearly two years to fully recover from the knee injury Clayborn went through. Now in a defense that won’t have Clayborn running all sorts of silly stunts, as if he is auditioning for “Dancing With the Stars,” this could be a golden opportunity for Clayborn.
As for Bowers, if he hasn’t realized it is time to fish or cut bait, then he never will. Bowers is now on his third coaching staff and Lovie is unlikely to be patient with a guy who has never come close to playing up to his expectations.
Right now, Joe doesn’t know how anyone could have Bowers higher up the depth chart than Will Gholston, who displayed more ability as a rookie than Bowers has in three seasons.
There is still time for youngsters to sign up for the Anthony Becht Football Camp held later this month. Click here for details.