Questions On Defensive Front

July 2nd, 2013

Hopefully, if given the chance to start at strongside linebacker this season, Dekoda Watson can make many a quarterback eat grass.

Yes, much was made last year of the near-historic NFL worst pass defense of the Bucs, where wide receivers ran free as if they were running cone drills. It was no less than an insult to Bucs fans.

Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik loaded up on secondary help in the offseason, essentially obtaining three new starters. But now the front seven, which played so well against the run last year, may have the most question marks on the team.

The Walter Football people seem very down on the Bucs’ front seven in their 2013 season preview.

It’s clear that the Buccaneers’ secondary will be much better than it was last year. However, it may not make that much of a difference if the defensive line can’t pressure the quarterback. The aforementioned Bennett had nine sacks in 2012, which was a third of the team’s overall total. The defensive end who had the most sacks after that was Daniel Te’o-Nesheim with four, but he’s just a situational rusher. The starters at the position will be Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers, chosen in the first and second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, respectively. Both have injury concerns, unfortunately. Clayborn is coming off a torn ACL, while Bowers always seems to be dealing with some sort of malady. He’s two years removed from a knee injury and he tore his Achilles last season.

Gerald McCoy had the most sacks last year of any returning player (5). A major disruptive force in the interior of the defensive line, McCoy is one of the reasons Tampa Bay was so stout versus the rush in 2012. Having said that, the other reasons were Bennett and Miller, who both moved on, as mentioned earlier. Gary Gibson will be asked to start in Miller’s place, which has disaster written all over it. Perhaps fourth-round rookie Akeem Spence can claim the job.

The defensive line will get overwhelmed at times, which will put even more stress on a pretty pedestrian linebacking corps. The only player in that group who performed well last season was second-round Lavonte David, who was an all-around stud. However, Mason Foster continued to struggle in the middle, where he’s completely out of place. The strongside linebacker last year was Quincy Black, but he was released. Adam Heyward, who was barely on the field in 2012, will take his spot if he can beat out Jonathan Casillas.

Joe somewhat agrees. Few, if any, raged over Dominik letting Bennett and Miller go as Joe did, especially for the price, until Joe learned the duo were damaged goods. In retrospect, it made all the sense in the world.

But strongside linebacker is a huge concern here. The reason Black was released is because he has nerve damage to his shoulder and his football career is likely history. With solid coaching last year, Black actually played pretty well.

When it’s July and the Bucs still are not sure who will start at strongside backer, that’s not a good thing. Then you look at the three candidates, including Dekoda Watson (who Joe likes but is really untested), released Saints veteran Jonathan Casillas and hanger-on Adam Hayward, who couldn’t crack the starting lineup even when the Bucs had the worst linebacker unit in the league. This doesn’t help Joe sleep well at night.

If Bucs defensive assistant Bryan Cox (Joe believes Cox and Bob Bostad are the best Bucs assistants) is again able to get the front seven to play strong football like he did last year, this guy just may be a defensive coordinator assistant somewhere next year.

16 Responses to “Questions On Defensive Front”

  1. Joc Says:

    For some reason bucs fans don’t see it but foster like he said is below average as is adam hayword. I’ll say it till I’m blue in the face Luke keekly was the pic. I went to bama and baron will seduce u with the lumber but he is a liability in space. Luke and David would have given us the best Lb core in NFL

  2. Piratic Says:

    @Joe: Do you agree with their contention that: “Mason Foster continued to struggle in the middle, where he’s completely out of place.”?

    I don’t.

    Having said that, I do believe that is a better fit at SLB.

  3. Buc'n Junkie Says:

    I’m sorry but the guys over at Walter Football have no professional scouting experience whatsoever. They started out as a private fantasy football link with no prior access to actual sporting events. They base all their opinions (like me) on stats and what they read, seen on TV or heard. I hold no creedence on what they say. Especially after calling Mason Foster average. lol

    And how about the fact that grandma can get a sack now when the QB can’t find someone to throw to after his three step drop. They are called coverage sacks. Plus with our secondary you will probably see the LB closer to the line of scrimmage. There will be more pass rushing by the LB and safeties. I predict 50 + total sacks compared to last years 37

  4. Tim Says:

    I agree the Sam spot is a concern I really was hoping for us to draft or pick up a FA of starting caliber there, but you cant always get what you want. David is going to improve this year, so will Foster. I have always felt Foster was more a natural Sam guy but he has played well in the middle and I predict he will continue to grow as the talent around him improves.

    As for the line, GMC is a stud and will make the probowl again this year. Clayborn is a beast while coming off the edge and his healthy. Bowers was once slotted as possibly being the #1 overall pick, before free falling to us in the 2nd round. He has a chip on his shoulder and is going to make a lot of teams regret the did not take a chance on him.

    As for replacing Roy Miller (damaged goods) a rotation of Spence and Gibson will be fine. Our defensive scheme uses the tilted nose as a space eater to take up blockers. This frees up the LBs to stop the run and puts GMC in 1 vs 1 situations on passing plays.

    QB’s ate us up last season on 3 step drops, that wont happen this year with the improved secondary.

  5. robert Says:

    this is hogwash

    we have man beast McCoy with STUD Spence next to him and backing them up is the guy they got from philly (Landri) who is a Roy Miller clone and then Gibson who is a decent vet. We could use another strong DT, but I really think the heat will be coming from the LB’s and blitzes.

    Give em a B rating

    If they all stay healthy we’ll be good, but we need another big man. What about Seymour?

    The LB should be OK as well. David is a beast A
    Foster is only getting better and the new secondary will help him and this group out. A
    Hayward, Watson or Casillas…….either one is a C+/B-

    give em a B and we should be good. the killer would be if David went down

    The DE’s are a bit more of a question mark…….but it does not look like we’re trying to build another Simeon Rice.

    They look more like solid run and pass DE’s. So they’ll be good given the right play selection, just don’t expect any of them to be coming off the edge like Rice. probably more stunts. Bowers and Clayborn are above average in ability, let’s hope they show it. and I LOVE the two DE’s we got in the draft and Teo is a solid backup. This group may have the most depth of the front 7 IMO.

    give em a B if they live up to their potential.

    It goes without saying, but the one thing that could bite us is if McCoy or David go down…..or Revis for that matter. All would be game changers and greatly effect or playoff hopes.

  6. WestCoastBucsFan Says:

    “Gary Gibson will be asked to start in Miller’s place . . .”

    “Adam Heyward, who was barely on the field in 2012, will take his spot if he can beat out Jonathan Casillas.”

    Statements like these show just how uneducated these writers are. Gary Gibson is most likely NOT competing for a starting role and there is no mention Watson competing for the SAM? And Joe, you even said Foster started the year at a pro bowl level. He can’t be THAT far off.

    I am sorry but I don’t believe the referenced article has much credibility if they honestly think the job is Gary Gibson’s to lose.

  7. stevek Says:

    WCBF,

    So our 4th round, rookie, DT is a “sure thing” to start?

    Hayward, Goode, Watson, or someone to be named later at the SAM?

    I don’t particularly care for “Charlie Campbell’s take”, since he left pewter report. I feel like he writes the Bucs off rather quickly, and perhaps his outlook on the team has personally soured?

    This is a big year for our football team. Time to make some noise, in the post season.

  8. Amar Says:

    Joe, that’s wrong. Our defense let WR’s run like wild African antelope evading hungry cheetah.

    Lmfaoooo. Joe, you are hilarious! Bring more of this! Ahaha!

  9. The 300's Says:

    OK Joe, I really take exception to you praising Brian Cox for his work with the front 7, even comparing him to Bob Bostad! Brian Cox is the pass rush specialist assistant (who thinks he can go after refs during games). We were tied for 3rd worst in the league last year in sacks! 29th! And Brian Cox is doing a good job? At best I would say he met expectations dealing with a depleted front 4 that lost both of their starting defensive ends (Bennett was in competition with Bowers for the starting job until he blew his Achilles).

    Bob Bostad exceeded expectations immensely and I would say had a tougher job than Brian Cox with all of the injuries. Don’t put those two in the same category.

    Also, this is an article primarily focusing on the lack of proven talent and depth of the front four. Yet somehow you make the insignificant part of the article your primary point (strong side linebacker as usual). He also mentioned how your Mason “pineapple eater” Foster sucks, but you didn’t bring that up. Of course him sucking was due to losing Black because he played lights out the first four games…….

  10. Steve Says:

    Joe’s artical says it all. (Near historical NFL worst pass defence. Where wide receivers ran free as if they were running cone drills.) All quarterbacks had to do last year was drop back and pick which wide open receiver they wanted to hit. Our defencive front never had time to get there before the ball was gone.

  11. Joe Says:

    Do you agree with their contention that: “Mason Foster continued to struggle in the middle, where he’s completely out of place.”?

    No. Joe thought Foster may have been eating pineapple the way he played the first half and early in the second half. He slipped the last month or so, often in pass coverage.

    Not so coincidentally, Foster began to slip about the same time Quincy Black got hurt.

    But of course, there are (alleged) sober minds that will try to convince you a SAM linebacker is unimportant.

  12. Joe Says:

    OK Joe, I really take exception to you praising Brian Cox for his work with the front 7, even comparing him to Bob Bostad! Brian Cox is the pass rush specialist assistant (who thinks he can go after refs during games). We were tied for 3rd worst in the league last year in sacks! 29th! And Brian Cox is doing a good job? At best I would say he met expectations dealing with a depleted front 4 that lost both of their starting defensive ends (Bennett was in competition with Bowers for the starting job until he blew his Achilles).

    Cox, who coached the front seven last year, turned the worst rush defense in 2011 into the best rush defense in 2012 with only one new player, Lavonte David.

    Joe’s not a mathematician but even he can add that up. Bryan Cox knows that the hell he is doing.

  13. The 300's Says:

    Joe, his title is Pass Rush Specialist. I am no English major but I don’t see run anywhere in that title. Again, 29th in the league in sacks. Now if you were saying the defensive line coach improved the rush defense I would agree. But I can’t see how the pass rush specialist helps in run defense (let alone have the gall/authority to run after a ref on the field), unless the Bucs are being sneaky and mislabeling his title.

    I mean, you watch way more practices live than I do so maybe I am wrong. But if I am then they should change his official title.

  14. Joe Says:

    300:

    Joe, his title is Pass Rush Specialist. I am no English major but I don’t see run anywhere in that title.

    Did you happen to read what Cox’s title was last year before the Bucs changed it this offseason?

  15. Illuminati Says:

    @ Joc

    I have to agree that we should have picked Kuechly. With Kuechly in the middle, David at WILL, and Foster at SAM, we would have the best young LB corps in the league, and it’d be a unit we wouldn’t have to address for years in draft or FA.

    I’m not knocking Barron by any means, but I think Kuechly would have been the more strategic pick.

  16. The 300's Says:

    Defensive front seven coach…… so he did half of his job well. ok I will admit it when I am wrong. still don’t like the dude though.

 
 

Leave a Reply

Current ye@r *