Pressure!July 16th, 2013
You feel it, Joe feels it. When the mortgage is due, when deadlines loom, when traffic makes you late to work, you feel it.
The pulse rises. The sweat drips. Breathing is shallow and quick. It’s pressure.
For a handful of Bucs, they feel the hot breath of Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik and Bucs coach Greg Schiano on the backs of their necks, and perhaps the wrath of fans if the team doesn’t so well this season.
Tom Krasniqi of WDAE-AM 620, also known as “TKras,” is the station’s Bucs beat guy. He has typed a piece identifying five Buccaneers feeling the heat inside their luxury, air conditioned pads. Joe finds the one below interesting.
3) Tie- Defensive ends Adrian Clayborn/Da’Quan Bowers – The pass rush for the Bucs will be a big factor in determining the team’s playoff chances in 2013. Last season, the Bucs were hideous in this area. The team registered just 27 sacks last season which ranked them 30th in the NFL. Not nearly good enough and don’t forget, the Bucs lost their best pass rusher in Michael Bennett (9 sacks) to free agency. As much as everyone loved to criticize the secondary, they were not helped out at all by the pass rush. Clayborn tore his ACL in Week 3 last season at Dallas. Clayborn showed some promise as a rookie two years ago when he recorded 7.5 sacks. Clayborn says he feels stronger and will be ready for the start of camp. The Bucs need him just as much as they need Bowers. The Bucs let Bennett walk in free agency because they have high confidence in Bowers as an every-down left defensive end. Bowers suffered a torn Achilles a year ago which delayed his season debut until late October and then was hampered by a hamstring injury. Down the stretch, Bowers did flash some ability and finished the season with 3 sacks. Can Bowers be a 10 sack per year type of player? Bowers thinks so and so do the Bucs. Bowers and/or Clayborn need to step forward in order to alleviate the double teams that Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy will undoubtedly see on a regular basis. The improved secondary may force the quarterback to hold onto the ball a little longer, so that helps. Clayborn was a 1st round pick back in 2011. Bowers was a 2nd rounder that year. GM Mark Dominik wants them to be full-time players because of their draft status. Now he needs them to deliver.
Joe doesn’t disagree with TKras here, but in Joe’s eyes, more pressure is on Bowers than Clayborn.
Unlike Clayborn, coming off a nasty knee injury, Bowers has always been dinged up for the Bucs with some sort of ailment. At least Clayborn has played a full season as a starter.
The Bucs had chances to either keep their sack leader (Michael Bennett) even though he may be damaged goods for a decent price, or go out any get, say, John Abraham. Instead, the Bucs are putting a lot of eggs in Bowers’ basket, hoping he not only can stay healthy but be productive.
While Bowers has shown flashes of being a key sack guy, like a certain Bucs quarterback who wears No. 5, he has not been consistent, largely due to injuries.
Oh yes, TKras has Mr. Freeman as the Bucs player under the most pressure.