Mid-Season Report: Defensive Line

The Buccaneers have had their struggles in terms of consistency on offense and that’s a sentiment felt on defense as well. But like the offense, the defense is stacked with potential and young talent. Specifically speaking, the defensive line is a spot the Bucs will want to pride themselves on in the future much like it has been a staple of their franchise in the past.

They have the tools to move forward and make this line special, it just needs to all click. Much like the rest of this 2011 Bucs team, the defensive line has shown flashes of brilliance, but have also had more then their fair share of nasty gaffs.

I’m looking at the 49ers and the London games as direct examples of complete and utter failure for this line.

But moving into the second half of the season, the Bucs have to feel good about this unit for the most part. They need to do a little more work in terms of getting things to click but although this unit has had it’s gaffs, it has had it’s shining moments thus far in 2011.

Yungry: Young and Hungry

Head coach Raheem Morris has dubbed his team “Yungry” which stands for young and hungry (to end any debate about what it means). That accurately describes this defensive line he has working for him that has young guys like Adrian Clayborn, Da’Quan Bowers and Gerald McCoy that are hungry to prove themselves.

The Bucs had a defense they prided on stopping the run last season. The missing piece that just about everybody saw was a dominant pass rusher. The Bucs doubled up on them in the draft grabbing Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn and Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers. But now the issue was become the run stuffing. Clayborn and this defensive line have had their ups and downs this year. Some notable ups include games against the Vikings, Falcons and the Colts. But most of the progress occurred in the second half of said games.

But when this defensive line is on, it’s on. Yeah, Adrian Peterson went for 120 yards against the Bucs in week 2, but he never once busted out one of his signature deep runs and the defensive line prevented Peterson from performing his patented untouched high step into the endzone.

Micheal Turner is a guy who moves the ball and extends drives for the Falcons but the line held him to 20 yards and no goal line runs.

But the Bucs have failed to stop the run against all elite runners. Frank Gore tore apart the short rested Bucs in his game against them and Matt Forte now has the London game as one of the key games he can use in contract leverage. The Bucs have also been inconsistent on the defensive front.

They stopped the Saints running attack in their first meeting but got shredded in the second one. The stopped Adrian Peterson in the second half of the Vikings game from closing out, but they allowed nearly all of his 120 yards int he first half.

Moving Forward

The defensive line is young and hungry but like the infant it is, they don’t always act mature. They have a tough stretch ahead of them but this is a unit that if it’s consistent from start to finish can be a devastating force. They have added Albert Haynesworth to counter the loss of Gerald McCoy for a second straight year, which causes problems to the clicking of this defense. McCoy hasn’t played a full season with the Bucs yet but his linemates in Bowers, Clayborn and lesser known guys like Micheal Bennet and Brian Price are still going forward and trying to build something special.

The pieces are there and the first eight games this unit has shared together have been bumpy but it fits right into this Yungry team busting at the seams with potential.

Mid-Season Grade: C+

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