Have you ever wondered what happened to the days when the Buccaneers had double digit sackers attacking from their defensive line? What ever happened to the Super Bowl Champions after losing Warren Sapp, Anthony McFarland, Greg Spires, and Simeon Rice? Former GM and Head Coach Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden tried to revive the Defensive Line over the 2008 and 2009 season when they signed veterans Kevin Carter, Jimmy Wilkerson, and Stylez White, and spent their 4th overall pick in the 2007 draft on DE Gaines Adams. The two leading sackers that year were Stylez White with 8 and Gaines Adams with 6. There was hope that maybe Gaines Adams could be that outside threat we all hoped for, but he under whelmed the following season with only 6.5 sacks. Even worse, he led the team with his 6.5 sacks. That may have played a part in the team seeking new leadership at that time.
The following season, they put their faith in the youngest coach ever, Raheem Morris. Coach Morris then started to rebuild his team, starting with the offense. But he still saw the need in strengthening the Defensive Line, and wisely spent his 3rd round pick on DT Roy Miller from Texas. Roy Miller had an mediocre rookie season, but the Buccaneers still struggled to get to the quarterback and stopping the run. Coach Morris then decided that the next draft would focus on building the interior line with bigger, faster players in attempt to not only stop the run, but attack the passer from the interior. He drafted Gerald McCoy and Brian Price with his first to picks in the 2010 draft, who were two of the top DT’s in the draft. The Buccaneers still struggled, but showed promise. All they needed now was two good Defensive Ends to solidify our front four.
We all had high hopes that the Bucs would be aggressive in the free agency this year, and pick up Ray Edwards and Mathias Kiwuanika, but the lockout showed that depending on free agency this year would be too great a risk. Coach Morris and GM Mark Dominic then put together a master plan to acquire the greatest talent available in the Defensive End position this past draft. Many of us may disagree with some of the picks, but when you look at the big picture, how can you not see it as genius? The 1st round pick was spent on Adrian Clayborn, a proven leader and a reliable disruption to the opposing offense, and then to everyone’s surprise, DaQuan Bowers falls to the Buccaneers in the 2nd round. Let’s not forget that Bowers was considered to be the best DE in the draft, and possibly the first overall pick. Yes, there are concerns with this rehabilitation, but I am fully confident that he will be fully recovered and playing with the same intensity he played with in college for Clemson.
Now we have McCoy and Price closing the inside of the line, and Bowers and Clayborn threatening the outside. Not only will this be better for our team in sacks, this gives the linebackers a better chance at tackling whoever does get past the line. And it gives the secondary better odds at taking advantage of a QB’s mistakes. Everything starts at the line. Morris and Dominic had the right idea. It’s no coincidence that the two teams that led in sacks made it to the Super Bowl.