Early reports from Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp seemed to indicate that Da’Quan Bowers wasn’t showing sufficient effort and consistency, and that he was failing to live up to the expectations of Head Coach Greg Schiano. The former Clemson defensive end has always come with the promise of great things a a defensive end, but there has yet to be a fully healthy display of what Bowers can do.
This offseason, when the Buccaneers let go of Michael Bennett, it was assumed that Bowers was the heir apparent to his place on the defensive line. That’s why the bar was set higher for Bowers this summer, because he would no longer be a situational player.
As a result, the early disappointment in camp led to comments from Greg Schiano calling for more than just situational play from Da’Quan. Bowers had his starting position taken from him, and wasn’t running with the first team in training camp any longer.
But Bowers showed improvement against the New England Patriots, dominating the Patriots’ backups in 28 snaps, earning 3 QB hurries and a QB hit according to Pro Football Focus. Schiano even complimented Bowers during a press conference in the week after the New England game, saying he saw him do some things he hadn’t seen before during that matchup.
So why on earth was he sitting on the sideline while Daniel Te’o-Nesheim failed to produce any pass rush against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night?
Bowers has been called upon to be more than just a situational player, but he was being substituted in and out of the game against Miami until as late as the fourth quarter, when he found himself alongside players who won’t be making the Bucs’ final roster.
If Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to see Da’Quan Bowers develop into an every down player, he’s going to have to play every down. And the third preseason game, which has been often referred to as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, is not the time to continue to try to send a message to a player who has admittedly shown improvement.
Daniel Te’o-Nesheim is not the answer for any question this coaching staff may have. He failed to show anything but a couple of decent plays against the run, and showed no reasons why he should play over Bowers. But yet Bowers sat on the sideline, only coming in on pass rush situations, when he frequently pushed back his blocker and disrupted the pocket. He even batted down a pass and contributed on a sack during his sporadic playing time.
I understand that Da’Quan Bowers has to know that the starting defensive end job isn’t going to be handed to him on a silver plate. But that message has already been sent, and it was heard loud and clear. Rotating him in and out of the lineup is only going to prepare him to be the same situational player the Buccaneers don’t want him to become.
The former Clemson Tiger needs to be let out of his cage. It’s time to let Bowers loose, and give him a chance to prove himself as an NFL defensive end.