Fans all across Tampa Bay have been doubting Da’Quan Bowers.
And for good reason.
For years now, we’ve been hearing nothing but positive things, from coaches and Bowers himself, on his expectations, health and motivation.
The results? Duds.
When drafted in the second round, Bowers was expected to be the feared pass rusher the Buccaneers have been missing since Simeon Rice left. Instead, he’s been about as valuable as a bag of rice. And at times, that bag of rice might have even gotten more pressure on the quarterback than the former Clemson standout.
But now, after years of bad coaching around him, Da’Quan Bowers has Lovie Smith.
And Lovie Smith, unlike previous coaches, has a plan for Bowers.
That plan, so far, has involved creating a new position for him, making him a hybrid between a defensive end and defensive tackle, switching back and forth between them depending on what defensive package the Buccaneers choose to run.
On Friday night, the plan paid off.
Da’Quan Bowers had three tackles on the night, and one for a loss after he went right around a cut block attempt and smothered the ball carrier in the backfield. He also got to the quarterback once.
That’s progress for Bowers, who is undoubtedly on the roster bubble this preseason.
If he continues to play as he did tonight, the likelihood is that he will make the final 53-man roster. A rawly-talented player like Bowers can find a way to shine, but only if he really puts everything he has into making an impact. Well, for the first time in a long time, that’s what Da’Quan seems to be doing. He’s out to prove all of us that have doubted him wrong.
Personally, I’m rooting for the guy. I hope he does prove us wrong, and find a way to become the player that he’s always had the potential to be. It’s too easy to write a guy off. But now that he has good coaching around him, and knows that his job is on the line, he’s going to be using it to his advantage. I think that has been the spark that Bowers has been missing his entire career.
For now, though, it was just one good game.
But just know that this Da’Quan Bowers is not the same player he was a year ago.
This Da’Quan Bowers is hungry.