Training camp is just around the corner. New Bucs’ greats will emerge from those men already in starting roles. Youngsters will battle against the odds to earn a roster spot and a chance under the bright lights of Raymond James, while many others will be shown the door and find that it is time to get on with their life’s work (to parrot former great Chuck Noll). Greg Schiano and company will begin to mold a squad to answer the opening day bell and fight through a tough schedule. The team today has a lot of uncertainty after last year’s 7-9 finish.
Burning Question #1: Will Darrelle Revis be back at 100%?
Greg Schiano and the brain trust think so – he recently reaffirmed this position in an interview with NFL Network. I, like many in Bucs’ nation, was a big fan of this trade and I was confident that Mark Dominik and company would not pull the trigger on a trade that gave away so much with great doubts about the player they were to receive in return. I like Revis as a Buc, I like the defense much better with him on the roster, and I like the Bucs chance against the high flyers of the division, especially Drew Brees, with the physical all-star presence of Revis in the lineup. A healthy Revis is a good bet and with it a much better Bucs pass defense.
Burning Question #2: Where will the pass rush come from?
Schiano and company believe that DE Adrian Clayborn will hit peak form a year after missing 13 games due to injury. I watched Clayborn a lot in college where he was a man among boys at Iowa. In those days he was easily as dominant as Ndamukong Suh. In the pros Clayborn has flashed serious ability, posting 7.5 sacks a rookie. No wonder the coaching staff feels comfortable with replacing Michael Bennett and his nine QB take downs. The other piece of the pass rush puzzle is DE Da’Quan Bowers, who as everyone knows fell to the Bucs on a potential draft day steal a couple of seasons ago. The staff and front office have a lot riding on Bowers. If Bowers can prove he is healthy from his chronic knee injuries and that he has enough experience and pass rush moves to consistently pressure the opponent, he will provide a beautiful book end to Clayborn. From the inside, the Bucs are counting on some push from DT Gerald McCoy, who had five sacks last year and has yet to peak as a player. I wish the Bucs had one more proven, healthy guy to get to the QB. If everything breaks their way, Tampa’s pass rush will be young and strong, but these are big ifs.
In a couple of weeks, as the Bucs hit the practice fields, Coach Schiano will begin to see if his gamble on Revis and his hopes for Clayborn and Bowers will be realized.