Adrian Clayborn Is The Key

August 3rd, 2014
Why Is Bucs DE Adrian Clayborn getting hammered by Bucs fans when he almost had double the sacks last year as high-priced free agent DE Michael Johnson?

Why is Bucs DE Adrian Clayborn getting hammered by fans when he almost doubled the 2013 sack total of high-priced free agent DE Michael Johnson (above)?

In recent days, especially since fight-instigatingbarista-training, pedestrian-bumpingolive oil-lappingpopcorn-munchingcoffee-slurpingfried-chicken-eatingoatmeal-lovingcircle-jerkingbeer-chuggingcricket-watchingscone-loathingcollege football-naïve, baseball box score-reading Peter King of arrived in Tampa Bay for a few hours, doubt has risen about high-priced defensive end Michael Johnson.

King has professed his skepticism that Johnson will regain his form as a double-digit sack guy.

The reason for King’s pessimism? Johnson’s 3.5 sacks last year. It may be worth noting that Johnson’s 11.5 sacks in 2012 was the lone time in his five-year career he had double-digit sack numbers.

Yes, yes, yes, Johnson was asked to do different things last year in Cincinnati because of the injury to tackle Geno Atkins. Fair enough.

Now Johnson is hardly the only question mark on the defensive front. On the other side is Adrian Clayborn, and ornery Alan Dell of the Bradenton Herald writes about Clayborn’s battle to be reborn.

Last season, former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano used Clayborn in numerous ways, including standing him in what might be called a hybrid 3-4 defense mixed in with a lot of stunts. Clayborn didn’t like it because it took away from what he does best: get after the quarterback.

“It’s not hard switching to the other side,” Clayborn said. “It’s still football, but everything is opposite. You have to move your hips the other way and move your arms the other way. You just have to get used to it. At the same time, I get to do what I like to do, which is go straight after the quarterback. It’s up to me to make it happen.”

Smith has said a lot of good things about Clayborn, but the Bucs declined to pick up his fifth-year option, which raises doubt.

Now this is an interesting point. Johnson was asked to do different things than rush the quarterback last year, and his sack total produced paltry results. Few fans offer a whimper. The exact same thing happened with Clayborn (hello, Darren Sproles) and half of Bucs fandom want to run the guy out of town. Why?

To the best of Joe’s knowledge, Johnson was not coming back from a major injury. Clayborn was coming back from major knee surgery. Big difference.

Perhaps the Bucs see something on film in Clayborn that spooked them from picking up the fifth-year option in his contract, essentially making this season Clayborn’s contract year?

Last weekend, Bucs icon Warren Sapp was in the house, regaling members of the Tampa Bay pen and mic club with all sorts of football stories. When someone asked him if Johnson was the next Simeon Rice, Sapp reacted something like this.

While Joe understands that if Johnson doesn’t turn around his sack number, then the Bucs’ defensive line could crumble, Joe is thinking differently. If Clayborn rediscovers his previous form and consistently gets pressure from the left side, opponents will have to devote more resources to take care of Clayborn and that may jump-start Johnson. Of course, the opposite works as well.

No, in Joe’s eyes, Clayborn is the key between the Bucs continuing to struggle to get sacks, and from being a truly dangerous pass rush outfit.

39 Responses to “Adrian Clayborn Is The Key”

  1. The_Buc_Realist Says:

    Johnson had a great year with double digit sacks, Clayborn Never has done it. People around here act like he was some terror on the D-line and he never has been. If “getting after the QB” is what he does best, then his career is in danger. He has been put into the primer spot on the D-line next to arguably the best DT in football and the result is the worst D-line in the league since Clayborn has got here. I just don’t know how the bar got set so low that some around here think his play is good. Clayborn will be fighting this year for playing time, and I for one will be glad to see that.

  2. dick2111 Says:

    Don’t understand why folks believe that sacks are the be-all and end-all for defensive linemen. Went to all the games at RayJay last year and what I saw was opposing QBs having FOREVER to find a target on far too many plays. Giving guys like Brees excessive time back there is the kiss of death.

    This year we’ve got 4 stud defensive linemen and several excellent backups. I have to believe that the Bucs will be getting a LOT more pressure on opposing QBs than they did last year. Even if it doesn’t result in sacks, that pressure will result in plenty of QB hurries … and plenty of great opportunities for interceptions. And this year we’ve got the LBs, CBs and Safeties to take advantage of that. Not to mention much better coaching.

    Michael Johnson had an excellent year last year even though the sacks weren’t there. Adrian Clayborn is poised for a breakout year. Add in McDonald and Spence, plus several other linemen and I think the defense will do just fine.

  3. biff barker Says:

    Johnson played fine next to Geno and he’ll do just fine playing next to GMC. Both are going straight in. A right handed QB will roll t

    Clayborn, healthy and at LDE is an unknown. Unsaid is the ability to get push inside from the LT position since a right handed QB will naturally roll to his right away from GMC and Johnson.

  4. Waterboy Says:

    Yeah I have my reservations about Michael Johnson also but at the same time I’m not the least bit concerned about Adrian Clayborn. As long Clayton he stays healthy he’ll flourish in Lovie’s system. He may even end up moving back to RDE before the end of the season with Gholston taking over at LDE. I think it may have been a bad personnel decision by Lovie to bring Michael Johnson in but only time will tell!

  5. Waterboy Says:

    As long *Clayborn* stays healthy

  6. The_Buc_Realist Says:

    As long “Clayborn” stays healthy, he will be below average, like always.

  7. kaput Says:

    Love this site, and visit it often, but have tired of the never ending listing of links to Peter King.

    Come on guys, that was funny the first 250 times we read it. Move on.

  8. Orca Says:

    I’m not worried about Johnson. This scheme is tailor made to his skills, and he’s playing next to McCoy. His job will be to go get the QB. Clayborn could have a career year too in this scheme. Between Clayborn and Johnson, I expect at least 18 sacks.

  9. The_Buc_Realist Says:


    Wow, that would be a big year for Johnson, 15 sacks. and 3 sacks for Clayborn?

  10. Pewter_Power Says:

    Clatborn will be just fine in this defense. I’ve always said he would be better suited at left end and it looks like this coaching staff agrees. It’s Bowers that I’m doubting.

  11. INDYbucsfan Says:

    I disagree I think clayborn is important, but I think Clinton McDonald is even more so. If we have 2 guys with inside pressure our defense will benefit greatly. It would make the ends jobs easier

  12. Joe Says:

    It’s Bowers that I’m doubting.

    You are not exactly in the minority there.

  13. gatrbuc17 Says:

    Funny azz pic of Sapp. I had to save it in a folder

  14. kevin Says:

    No worries here for our dline….none whatso ever….

  15. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Oh boy, here goes the realist and his hatred for Clayborn. Funny thing is, I have a feeling if he ever saw him in person, he’d be so giddy, he’d hang all over him like a groupie. Some people are so ridiculous, it’s not even worth arguing. He’s very similar to ol’ Thomas 2.2 and his hatred for GMC.

  16. The_Buc_Realist Says:

    @Hawaiin Buc

    The guy just got demoted to fight for a position on the other side of the line. its not hatred, I just want to see production on the d-line. Even you would agree that the D-line has been underwhelming the last 5 years.

    And as far as bowers, which is more concerning? Bowers who is bearly on the field and bearly putting up numbers? or clayborn who was always on the field (except knee injury) bearly putting up numbers?

  17. Goodolebucfan Says:

    Hawaiian Buc you hit the nail on the head. I love to scroll to the comment section just to read Realist’s comments on all Clayborn related things. I love laughing at ignorant people. Funny Clayborn had a good rookie year injuried his second and recovering his third in a joke of a system and he’s a bust. If he don’t have a good year this year well then maybe.

  18. jaybucs Says:

    I don’t understand why the bucs didn’t pick up Clayborns option. If he has a 7+ sack season, we will have to break the bank to keep him instead of paying him on the rookie scale.

  19. Goodolebucfan Says:

    Let’s see 7.5 rookie year injured second, recovering in the third got better as the year went on 5.5 sacks doing all kinds of stunts instead of just running straight ahead still got 5.5 sacks imagine him in a system run by a coach that knows what he is doing and don’t have to cover his lack of a of a defensive system by blitzing and running stunts. Don’t give me that no talent crap with Revis, David, McCoy at each level. Poor coaching gets poor results.

  20. Goodolebucfan Says:

    Oh by the way if you compare M Johnsons and A Clayborn last 2 complete seasons played in 2011 and 2013 Johnson had 9.5 sacks and Clayborn had 13 sacks and he was coming of a injury in 2013 unlike Johnson.

  21. getaclue Says:

    Look at how many qb pressures.
    Johnson had you retard

  22. Thomas Says:

    Clayborn is actually not the key. Depth is the key. No injuries is also the key.

    M Johnson had a lower amount of sacks last year, but still have alot of pressures. The reason he had lower sacks was because Cincinnati’s bid D-lineman was out with an injury all year. Think that having McCoy on the field at the same time will help him out?

    What was Clayborn’s excuse?

    Also NOW they have real coaches that know what they are actually doing, coaching them. I bring this up at least once a week. Learn the difference between an all out rush and a stunt that makes it so nobody will be getting a sack unless the offense is totally inept.

  23. Capt.Tim, Back from Davie Jone's locker Says:

    Yet doubting Bowers.
    He faced the same obstacles as Clayborn.
    And he was recovering from an Achilles tear- far more debilitating and lingering than an ACL- which Bowers had the year before.


  24. Louis Friend Says:

    I think @biff barker mentioned this above in a way – but Clayborn is now Chidi Ahonatu in this defense. Johnson gets pressure, QB rolls right and gets sacked by Clayborn. Anything less than 7 sacks for Clayborn means pressure isn’t getting to the QB from the right side enough. Clayborn doesn’t have to be great, he just has to take the QB down when he rolls over to him. That’s going to happen enough if this defense works the ways it’s supposed to.

    We don’t need an all pro at LDE, just a guy who can collapse the edge enough to take advantage of sacks when they come. Clayborn won’t be playing against stud LT’s any more – but against RT’s of varying quality. He should do just fine against that.

    Would I pick up his option for 2015? Heck no. This defense doesn’t require the best paid LDE’s. It needs guys who are consistent and can get the job done though. If Clayborn does well in 2014, he should strongly consider staying put instead of jumping ship to play elsewhere. LDE may be his best spot.

  25. tiny tim Says:

    Not sold on johnson.

  26. Louis Friend Says:

    @Capt Tim – it’s not that people doubt Bowers – they simply don’t believe he’s a guy who will ever contribute. Mostly because he never has. He’s been recovering from injuries since he got here. It’s been a tough deal for him since he arrived here, but that’s life – right? Would rather move on to the next guy and see if we can find a backup who can spell the starters without having too much drop off. Bowers doesn’t seem like a guy who can do that.

  27. Orca Says:

    Anyone who still has hopes that Bowers will make a difference is drinking the same koolaid as the people who thought Nicks was going to play again. Fantasyland.

  28. buc4lyfe Says:


    Are you really Bowers and just mad because you can’t move up on the depth chart? Dude produces and I bet you were probably one of the ones trying to say mccoy was a bust because he had shown nothing but flash before last year and he certainly wasn’t talked about as one of the best like he is now. As far as ends, they’re like quarterbacks in that There are elite, great, good and average. His rookie season he was great leading us in sacks with mccoy and Bennett on the roster in a year Bennett only had 4, he was a good starter coming off an injury, it’s not his fault the coaching staff was idiotic enough to made him guard sproles in the flat lol. we’ll see what he can be this year. Get your pantries outta your crack dude you sound pathetic

  29. biff barker Says:

    The success of both DE’s is based on how well the tackles penetrate. It pushes the QB deeper in the pocket where an outside speed rush is deadly.
    We know GMC is a monster and Johnson is very quick for backside pursuit.
    If Spence and McDonald can collapse the pocket we will be really effective.

    Getaclue gets it. It’s pressures, hurries and knockdowns that win games. Sacks are great but with hurries the QB often misses the open target or risks a pick.

  30. Touch_Down_Tampa_Bay Says:

    Here comes preseason. Lets see how the new system rejuvenates the d-linemen.

    Really and truly is not fair or realistic to judge them while executing in the previous regime. Doing the Waltz before the pizza guy got to the QB is not fair. QBs use to gain weight with all the delicious food delivered to them before our d-line got close to them. I remember Teo’ tipping the delivery guy trying to be a good Buccaneer Men. Come on that’s not fair…

    Is it Friday yet?

  31. Harry Says:

    I believe Lovie, not Licht, watched a lot of game tape on Johnson and, obviously, was happy with what he saw. I am not worried about Johnson. Clayborn, however, is a concern.

    @Realist, Clayborn is on the field more than Cheeseburger Bowers because he has earned the right to be there. At least give him credit for that. I get ur frustration (hate?). I feel the same about Cheeseburger bc I think he is just lazy. That is a bigger sin to me than someone who is busting his butt but just does not have the natural ability.

  32. Harry Says:

    @Orca Says:
    “…Anyone who still has hopes that Bowers will make a difference is drinking the same koolaid as the people who thought Nicks was going to play again. Fantasyland…”

    Orca, is that same as The Cannon Kool Aid?

  33. jvato24 Says:

    Hey Harry, I guess your referring to Brian Price, your a quite wise man full of knowledge and wisdom, way to identify a person for being lazy when you know Jack squat about them, you would have overcame the dead family members and hamstrings ripped off your pelvis I’m sure

    way to go, your a winner

  34. Joe Says:

    Anyone who still has hopes that Bowers will make a difference is drinking the same koolaid as the people who thought Nicks was going to play again. Fantasyland…

    Stay tuned for Monday morning. Interesting Bowers nugget.

  35. Goodolebucfan Says:

    Hey Getaclue I was not knocking on Johnson I know very well what he has done just comparing Clayborn and show he not the same de that realist paints him to be. I am very happy Johnson signing but I also understand that the selling point to get Johnson to sign with this team was that he would be the right defensive end.

  36. DCVic Says:

    All I know is Clayborn brings it on every play; he plays with reckless abandon on every play and he packs a punch when he gets there plus he isn’t bad against the run either. OK he hasn’t had double digit sack #s but I think the numbers he does have speak well for his ability to rush the QB. 7.5 sacks as a rookie in this league is nothing to be ashamed of. 5.5 sacks coming off an ACL injury isn’t bad either. It looks even better when you add in that the idiot DC and HC had him running silly stunts, covering RBs and standing up like a LB in a 3-4. I expect Clayborn to have a big year. I honestly can see the Bucs having 3 guys with double digit sacks on the DL.

  37. Harry Says:

    @jvato24 Says:
    “…Hey Harry, I guess your referring to Brian Price…”

    No, I specifically said Bowers. Don’t know where you came up with Price. Go back and read my post. As you said, Price had a pass: between his very serious injury and his family issues, his situation was understandable.

  38. pick6 Says:

    clayborn was nearly a double digit sacker in his rookie year, and produced despite recovering from injury and being used in a pretty idiotic way at times (stunts, standing up, pass coverage, etc) last year. his only “down” year was when he went down with an major injury. i can understand why the bucs don’t want to be on the hook for his 5th year option due to the high price tag, but i don’t think it means they don’t have an interest in re-signing him. it’s basically the rookie version of the franchise tag and the bucs decided they didn’t want his value dictated by an externality.

  39. pick6 Says:

    and i think expectations for michael johnson need to be tempered. alot. he may be wildly successful, but i think banking on that hope to carry your season is kind of like banking on a position group to make it through a season completely injury-free (hello, o-line and secondary). if you do it without a contingency plan you deserve what you get