Intrigue On The Defensive Front

July 11th, 2013
Da'Quan Bowers is just one of many pieces to the Bucs pass rushing puzzle the team hopes to solve this summer.

Da’Quan Bowers is just one of many pieces to the Bucs’ pass rushing puzzle the team hopes to solve this summer.

This morning marks exactly two weeks from the Bucs’ first practice of 2013 training camp. That’s right, on July 25, the Bucs will sweat like banshees in the brutal Florida morning sun as football season, for all intents and purposes, begins anew.

Joe suspects many fans will focus on the defensive line. Not only are there numerous questions to be answered this year on the defensive front, intrepid Scott Smith of, the pride of Northwestern, suggests there is virtually no end to the amount of intrigue that will be played out by Bucs defensive linemen this summer.

Start at right end. Adrian Clayborn had a very strong rookie season in 2011, leading the team with 7.5 sacks, and was off to a good start last year before a knee injury took him out after just three games. Many, myself included, are expecting a breakout year from Clayborn in 2013; will we see evidence of that in training camp? Next to him is the biggest question mark on the line: Who will start at nose tackle with Roy Miller now in Jacksonville? The Bucs’ drafted Illinois’ Akeem Spence in the fourth round with the thought that he might be able to step right in, but again we can’t take a rookie’s production for granted until we see it. And will a veteran like Gary Gibson or Derek Landri keep Spence from getting that starting job, anyway?

Next to Spence is perhaps the surest thing on the line, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. He was a Pro Bowler last year and one of the league’s rising stars, and he has apparently dedicated himself to getting into even better physical shape this year. I don’t think we have any worries here, but there is still the question of whether McCoy can continue his ascension and emerge as one of the very best performers in the league. Finally, at right end, we presumably have Da’Quan Bowers stepping into the starting lineup on opening day for the first time in his three seasons. He made a remarkable recovery from his offseason Achilles heel injury last year to even make a second-half impact last year – and a promising half-season it was – but he must now prove he can handle a starter’s share of snaps. Bowers might be the biggest wild card on that line, capable of giving the Bucs a ton of production from the left side, so I think he’ll be very interesting to watch in July and August.

Actually, I shouldn’t have said “finally” because the intrigue doesn’t end with the presumptive starters. The Bucs hope a vastly improved secondary will help the pass rush by giving the big men that extra second they need. Still, the team didn’t stop there in trying to amp up that pressure on the quarterback, something that has not met expectations for several seasons now. The draft brought two more potential helpers up front in fifth-rounder William Gholston and sixth-rounder Steven Means. How much can they help, and how soon?

Here is the thing: Bowers, Joe suspects, on passing downs, will be moved to the inside as Spence is not known as a pass rusher. The Bucs are so desperate to put heat on the quarterback, Joe’s pretty sure they will forego bulk for speed on the inside on obvious passing situations. Plus Bowers did that last season at times.

So what then happens at left defensive end position? It sure seems like rookies Means and Gholston will be given every possible opportunity to battle for a shot to be designated pass rusher. After all, that’s why those two were drafted.

Now if Gholston really dominates in camp, it’s very possible the Bucs would leave Bowers at left end and and put Gholston in the middle to rush the passer. Gholston played inside at Michigan State with varying degrees of success. With Gholston’s massive wingspan, it sure would be cool for a change to see a Bucs player bat down passes rather than the other way around.

19 Responses to “Intrigue On The Defensive Front”

  1. Biff Barker Says:

    I thought Clayborn was all but invisible before going on IR last year.
    Also Joe, Bowers has burst off the line, why put him inside on 3rd down? Put Gholston inside and get his arms up.

  2. Jim Says:

    Gholston was a fourth round pick and Means was a fifth round pick. One would think Smith who works for the team would get that right. And Clayborn was getting very little pressure before he landed on IR.

  3. stevek Says:


    You beat me too it. I wish the Bucs were paying me to do half @ss reporting job.

  4. Pewter_Power Says:

    I was going to say the same thing. Crazy when fans know more about the team than the people working for them.

  5. Macabee Says:


    Go back and review the draft picks! I know it’s early, but this wasn’t that long ago!

  6. Mike J Says:

    I thunk Clayborn was DRE & Bowers left?? Oh…two right ends in the analysis.

  7. robert Says:

    Everyone wants to talk about how the offense was new and they’ll be better the second year. Well the defense was something we have NEVER seen with all the stunts, blitzes and leaving the DB’s on an island. I am sure this attributed to the lack of sacks last year, and you can plug in whoevers name you want there. The DB’s did not cover, so the DE’s could not get to the QB. This year we should have some quality DB’s on the field and the front 7 will be more comfortable with said packages and know and choose their targets better. I see a MEAN front 7 that eats red meat. I think Ghoslton could potentially better than Bowers and Clayborn coming off the edge. Rice anyone? Means is undersized and will probably used in less obvious situations – he could have a problem @ the NFL level with his size. The interior should hold up well, although GMC makes me nervous shedding even more pounds. He’s a DT for heavens sake, not a DE! I say the interior should hold up because I see boo koo pressure coming from the LB’s. I liked the aggressiveness last year, and they should have learned a thing or two. Now with the back 1/2 secured it should make for one hell of a show. We will probably be suspect when we face road grader teams though in long games. This is where the O has to maintain the ball and give the D some oxygen. 2 weeks baby!

  8. MarineBucsFan Says:

    Totally off topic here but i just wanted to thank BIGMACATTACK for giving me that info on getting a tour of onebuc before i deployed. It was awesome. Looking forward to the season, im expecting the season to help me pass time.
    Question bucsfans, we often get games on the armed forces network out here in Afghan but it wont always show the bucs game. Is there a way for me to catch the game on the internet, i dont mind a prerecorded game i will just keep from the news until i get to watch???

  9. Mitch Says:

    What about that former ,eagles(?), 3rd pick Daniel teo-nesheim?

  10. Macabee Says:


    I owe you guys an apology. I thought you guys were challenging Smith’s statement that Spence was picked in the 4th, but instead Gholston. You were correctly challenging Smith’s statement in his last paragraph where he was obviously mistaken when he said Gholston was picked in the 5th round.

    The Bucs moved up and took Spence at #100 and Gholston at #126, both in the 4th round. Sorry, pays to re-read before spouting off, which I obviously did not do.

    Again, my apologies!

  11. stevek Says:


    Review the Picks:

    1- Jets for Revis
    2- 43rd pick Johnthan Banks
    3- Big Bird Glennon
    4- traded up for Spence
    4- Gholston
    5- Means
    6- traded up for Mike James

    What did you mean by “check the draft picks”? This Buc employee needs to be held accountable for knowing his stuff.

  12. stevek Says:

    ^^ All good, Macabee.

    We need football NOW.

  13. robert Says:

    Teo earned his keep last year coming in and looking pretty solid while nabbing a few sacks. Not a speed guy, more of a lunch pail all around DE.

    Remember guys Stylz and Bennett where nobodies until given a chance and they performed pretty dang well. It does not look like we are trying to build NYG type pass rushing DE’s, but more all around DE’s with the LB’s, blitzes and stunts as our key weapon of choice.

  14. Tomcin Says:

    Everyone seems to forget about Teo-Nesheim.

  15. gracelivin Says:

    @MarineBucsFan, I live out of country and I use NFL gameday, it is a bit expensive, $200 a year but you get every game played by every team. Can watch live or later on when you have time and can watch as many times as you want. It even goes back to 2009 so that would be my choice. Semper Fi.

  16. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I think Steven Means might turn out to be more than expected.

    Joe Says
    “Bowers, Joe suspects, on passing downs, will be moved to the inside as Spence is not known as a pass rusher.”

    I think we might see the Bucs mix things up like that, but I also think the long term plan is to get Spense to be in there on passing downs as well.

    Just like Kiffin felt Sapp needed to be out on 3rd downs, Spence will either have to step up or be replaced. Other wise our defense will be too predictable.

  17. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    MarineBucsFan, thank you for stepping up for our nation. God Bless and protect you!

  18. MarineBucsFan Says:

    Thanx guys, I will try NFL Gameday!!

  19. RustyRhino Says:

    “it sure would be cool for a change to see a Bucs player bat down passes rather than the other way around.” Your right Joe!