The Importance Of A Pass Rush

July 21st, 2014
A lot of pressure is being put on Bucs DE Michael Johnson.

A lot of pressure is being put on Michael Johnson.

Hopefully in four days, Joe can somehow bury the memories nightmare of the Bucs (lack of) pass rush to a deep, dark place.

You know the kind of memories: like when you were three and thought the boogieman was hiding in your basement once the lights were turned off? Or that Jack the Ripper was knocking on neighborhood doors looking to knife you? Or worse yet: the nuns, armed with pointers, trying to teach you algebra?

(Sometimes, Joe thinks he needs a shrink for what he would like to do to a nun if he had a pointer.)

The (lack of a) pass rush last season made Joe just want to launch his remote control through his 60-inch HDTV. It was appalling, and frankly, an insult to sober and drunk Bucs fans alike. The ineptitude the team displayed at breathing on quarterbacks was astounding.

New Bucs coach Lovie Smith has vowed to end that nonsense and put real teeth into the pass rush. Poor Gerald McCoy. The guy may have been the best defensive tackle in a 43 defense and the way he was double- and triple-teamed was galling. No matter how good a player is, he’s not a one-man unit.

(Perhaps the Bucs would have had at least a pass rush that could have frightened a troop of Girl Scouts if former rock star general manager Mark Dominik hadn’t let 2013 sack leader Michael Bennett walk away for no good reason?)

One way Lovie hopes to end this drought of sacks is through Michael Johnson, the big-money defensive end signed in March. Veteran columnist Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times notes the effectiveness of this season’s pass rush sits largely on Johnson’s shoulders.

It has been an eternity since the Bucs had a defensive end who could make quarterbacks nervous. They are a special breed, these guys, players the entire stadium knows are about to blow by a helpless offensive tackle on their way to the quarterback’s lunch. And the next play, they’re going to do it again.

Alas, it has not been that way with the Bucs for a while. Most years, they start this guy or that one, and he jogs out for the game introductions, and you promptly forget about him for the next three hours. Oh, every now and then the other team’s passer might trip over him, but you couldn’t count on it. On most game days, the Bucs’ defensive end has been just another guy.

Johnson needs to change all that. More than any other newcomer on the roster, he has to be a difference maker. Otherwise, a difference will not be made.

Later, Shelton suggests Johnson has to be closer in play to Simeon Rice than Stylez White to have a successful season and, thus, the Bucs defense to succeed. Also, Shelton documented the list of “Invisibles,” who Tampa Bay hoped would be fierce defensive ends, and instead became wet noodles: Eric Curry, Gaines Adams, Ron Holmes, Regan Upshaw, Booker Reese, Keith McCants and Da’Quan Bowers. That’s a pretty dismal lot.

(Want to see Warren Sapp light up like a Christmas tree? Drop the name of “Booker Reese” in his presence and duck.)

Yes, the Bucs expect a lot from Johnson. Maybe too much. Joe is confident that at left defensive end, D-line coach Joe Cullen will be able to get the most out of Adrian Clayborn/Will Gholston.

This is why Joe is not losing sleep over the defense. Johnson may not be Rice, but Joe expects better production from everyone on the line, thus, Johnson doesn’t need to play like a borderline Hall of Famer for the defense to be strong.

9 Responses to “The Importance Of A Pass Rush”

  1. Jon Says:

    Joe, you may need to save two spots on your top 20 worst for the Bengal duo. Think about it…we were the four option. Bengals said no thanks. Zimmer and Vikings passed, Gruden and Washington passed. Leaves us with two players that three coaching staffs that knew the players passed on them. I’d have been just as happy and probably saved money just keeping Penn and sign back Bennett…why didn’t we sign back Bennett this time???

  2. BucsRokk26 Says:

    Cincy franchised Johnson last year and knew they could sign him back cause of cap issues. Both Minnesota and Washington were in play during the opening of free agency, but Johnson ultimately chose Tampa Bay for good reason, he fits this system like a glove and we already have an all pro DT lined up next to him. So Johnson wasn’t passed on bro, your commit on him is void.

    Collins on the other hand is a big question mark. I’m not sure whether he was passed on or chose TB cause of his friendship with Johnson, but we’ll never really know. I do hope he pans out, we’ll have to wait and see when the pads go on!

    4 days baby!! Go Bucs!!!

  3. BucsRokk26 Says:

    *couldn’t sign him

  4. Stanglassman Says:

    Thanks BucsRokk for explaining Jon’s commits. I could even make sense of the nonsense.

  5. Jon Says:

    Sorry for some typos stanglassman. Looks like your comments don’t make sense either. As for Johnson choosing us, he took the most money anyone would play. That would be our Bucs

  6. BucsRokk26 Says:

    Lol, do you have insider information? Why don’t you let the season play out before you label a guy a bust. Wow, some Bucs fan…

  7. Westsidebucsfan Says:


    Nice number drop on the size of your tv

  8. scubog Says:

    Let me get this straight. If a player chooses to sign with the Buccaneers instead of another team it makes him less worthy? If the cheerleader chooses to go to the prom with you instead of the star QB, must she have something wrong with her? Joe must from time to time imagine Rachel Watson dressed up as a nun. But a “poker”.

  9. Brandon Says:


    You apparently know very little about football outside of the Bucs. Johnson is a fantastic DE and Collins has far better long-term potential than Penn. I’m a Donald Penn fan, but what I saw at times last season was disgusting. Plus, at his age and with his proven inability to keep weight off during the season. I really liked Michael Bennett, but he wasn’t a RDE, he was a LDE and UT…that’s not what the team was looking for.