Quality Of Pass Rushers Forces Bucs’ HandDecember 10th, 2013
The Bucs are dancing along the defensive line on so many pass rush downs, and today Greg Schiano let the cat out of the bag when it comes to the dreaded line stunts. The Bucs have to employ them – even though coaches would prefer not to.
Joe’s written several times before about the apparent lack of confidence in Adrian Clayborn and other edge rushers. After all, if you have an All-World tackle in Gerald McCoy, and an acceptable nose tackle rush, plus a sound run defense, then solid edge rushers should be able to post serious numbers. But the Bucs’ defensive ends are not.
Speaking WHFS-FM 98.7 this evening, a candid Schiano told host Booger McFarland, “I long for the day” that the Bucs can consistently send only D-linemen after quarterbacks. It was a candid indictment of his 2013 defensive ends.
“Here’s the deal; we do a little more blitzing, not line stunts, not a four-man rush with a stunt. We do a little more blitzing, where we bring linebackers and defensive backs, certainly than the Buccaneers did in the years past. And quite frankly, because we have to right now,” Schiano said. “There’s nothing I’d love more than to be able to have like we used to have in the past, line four guys up and say, ‘Go get the ball.’ Right. ‘Go get the quarterback.’ Right now, we’re not quite there, so what we try to do is mix in, in passing situations, some pressures. Now that’s not line twists. That’s we’re bringing five; we’re bringing six. We’ve kind of built the secondary that way to be able to play more man coverage. So that’s more of what you’re seeing in third down and 2nd-and-pass situation. But still when you look at that, we’re never over the 50 percent mark in doing that.
“So I agree with you that I’d love and I long for the day when we can put four guys, put their hand in the dirt and say, ‘Go get’em.’ Right now I think we’d all agree that we don’t have that level like we did in the past. We’re working to get there. And it’s not only going and getting different players. I think it’s developing the players in our system.
“Unfortunately, Da’Quan Bowers, you know, has been battling through some things with his legs. We’re just working through it with him. But you see a guy like Will Gholston really starting to come on now. Adrian Clayborn I think is really getting to where he’s back to his old self. So I think we’re headed in that direction. And make no mistake, I really would love to [rush four.] Because then you can play coverage with seven, and that’s when you really start to make some plays in the back end.”
Schiano sure explained a lot there. And it’s no surprise, but it’s a first to hear him explain it publicly.
So what do the Bucs do next season? Do they bank on Clayborn and Bowers reviving their careers and bring in a versatile free agent defensive end that can rush from both sides and or/inside? You know, like the Cardinals did with John Abraham (11 sacks) and the Seahawks did with Michael Bennett?
Or do they target another edge rusher in the draft and in free agency?
If the Bucs hope to improve defensively, they’ll need to find an above average edge rusher somewhere.