Reinventing The DefenseJuly 15th, 2014
As Joe has pointed out, there are no worries for the Bucs defense this season. Lovie Smith has a proven resume to get the most out of players. Combine that with how the Bucs defense wasn’t really that awful last year, sans a pulse of a pass rush, and the majority of starters are returning.
The Bucs were one of the top NFL teams in takeaways, which only highlighted just how rotten the offense was that it could not take advantage.
Also, Lovie wasted no time signing free agent defensive end Michael Johnson to upgrade years of swimming upstream in trying to find, develop, or throw away (Michael Bennett) any type of edge rush. The crowd over at BSPN seems giddy over Johnson. In fact, they point to Johnson as being one of five players who will reinvent their respective teams.
Tampa Bay hasn’t had a player rack up double-digit sacks since Simeon Rice had 14 in 2005. Last season the Bucs’ top ends — Adrian Clayborn, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Da’Quan Bowers — combined for just 10 sacks. With the Bengals, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Johnson, 27, ranked among the league’s top pass-rushing 4-3 DEs. Plus, in 2013, his 8.4 percent stop rate on run plays ranked fifth best among 4-3 ends. No wonder Cincinnati tagged him as a franchise player last season.
Johnson is a nice player, but can we stop the Simeon Rice hyperbole?
Right now there are only two players whose names can be spoken in the same breath as great Bucs of the past. That would be Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy.
Johnson is a nice player. A good player. But until he gets double-digit sacks, can we just lay off the Rice comparisons?