Michael Bennett has made one thing very clear in the preseason. He doesn’t just want the starting left defensive end spot, he’s taking it by force! Bennett was the most productive defensive lineman with 3 tackles, all for a loss, and 1 sack in the first half. Bennett made his presence felt by consistently getting in the Dolphins backfield. Bennett left the field with an injury, and appears to be fine after just having the wind knocked out of him. Another defensive end that was very disruptive is 1st round pick, Adrian Clayborn. On Michael Bennett’s sack, it was Clayborn who pressured QB, Chad Henne, into hesitating and scrambling right into Bennett’s arms. Both had a great effort on the play and added 7 more yards between the Dolphins and their 1st down marker. On a 3rd down play, Clayborn pressured Henne into making a quick short pass instead of looking downfield. The pass was complete, but short of the first down. Defensive end, George Johnson, also had a great game. He has proven consistency with a sack in each preseason game thus far, and recorded 3 tackles against Miami. One of those tackles was for a 7 yards loss on a 3rd and 5 play. Okam, continues to be a run-stuffer and had a great stop on Bush in the redzone on a 3rd and goal play. Crowder finally looked alive this preseason and was very active and disruptive. He played physical against the run, and provided good pressure against Henne. Crowder could have led the team in sacks with 2 had one of them not been removed because of a penalty. He also had a great pressure on Henne forcing the quarterback to look for open space, running right into a sack by Bowers. Bowers was very excited to have recorded his first sack as a Buccaneer, and looked like he is improving his technique. When Bowers was on the field, I saw him contribute on almost every play. Sure he only recorded 2 tackles, but in one drive alone, the Dolphins ran Daniel Thomas twice, who was tackled by Larry Asante and Tyrone McKenzie. On both of those plays, Bowers had slowed Thomas down enough to create an opportunity for a teammate to make a tackle. That’s what good pressure is all about. McCoy had a similar play where he popped Reggie Bush and Geno Hayes finished the tackle for no gain.
The Buccaneers have done it. They wanted to improve their pass rush and they have done a great job in doing so. I know it’s just the preseason, but these rookies are capable of accomplishing some great things for the Bucs. Let’s just try not to get too excited and create unrealistic expectations on these young athletes.
The linebackers unit had a pretty good performance against the Dolphins. Geno Hayes had the best performance and led the team with 5 tackles, 1 for a loss, and 1 fumble recovery. Hayes looked very alert and was always around the ball. I don’t want to take away from how well Hayes did, but this isn’t spectacular because he struggles with consistency. There’s no question that Hayes can be amazing; however, I would love to see him do the same thing week in and week out. Watson continues to be the best linebacker in the preseason. Watson had a great blitz off the edge and forced a fumble on a 3rd down. The dolphins recovered but still faced a disappointing 4th down. Black played well outside of being stiff-armed byMarshall on a TD play.
The middle linebackers need to step it up. They didn’t have a bad game, but they didn’t impress anyone either. I don’t care who out of Foster or McKenzie gets the starting role at middle linebacker. I just want someone to validate that getting rid of the Buc’s leading tackler, Barrett Ruud, was worth it. Foster has played very physical, but need has much to learn before he can be a threat.