Now that the Buccaneers have the defensive line this team has been waiting for, what exactly does that mean for the defense? Does this mean they will be able to sack the QB on every down? Does this mean they can now stop the run before the opposing team gets to the line? Not exactly, but what this does mean is they now have a defense to fear.
In the 2010 season, the only part of the Bucs defense to be proud of was the secondary. Well, that’s if you can put aside all the challenges cornerback Aqib Talib and safety Tanard Jackson brought to the team. The linebackers failed to get after the QB, stop the run, and keep the opposing team from getting the first down. The defensive line failed to close gaps against running plays and sack the quarterback. Somehow, the secondary still managed to place the Bucs at 9th in the league with interceptions, without the help of the defensive line. I believe we have the great development of Freeman, Blount, Mike Williams, and our secondary to thank for the success they had last season.
This time things will be different. The Bucs may not have a stud like Julius Peppers or DeMarcus Ware at the defensive end position, but I believe they have a more complete package now. When a quarterback sees Clayborn, McCoy, Price, and Bowers line up, he has more than just a sack to be worried about. All of these linemen are proven to be great disruptions to the offense. Even when they don’t touch the QB, they greatly impact the play. Before, Coach Morris would have the defensive line try attack the QB, but still would have to send a linebacker or cornerback in to blitz on blitzing plays. Now, that Morris can be confident in his defensive line, the Bucs can put one of their linebackers back in man or zone coverage where he can contribute more to stopping the opposing to team from ripping off big yards. What if that linebacker still blitzes? Well, now they have four big linemen that should be able to hold and disrupt the offensive line, making it more possible for a blitzing linebacker to make a sack or force a mistake by the quarterback.
The Defensive line’s main job is to sack the QB, force a mistake that could result in a turnover, keep the opposing running backs from getting to the line, and get the offense back on the field for another shot at some points. In 2010, the Bucs weren’t a threat because they couldn’t do any of those things. But now that they can, they rest of the defense wont have to make up for what they lacked at the line. This will make us better within our division, and a true playoff contender. Look what they did last year without a defensive line. Now that they have our four horseman, they can be a defense to fear.