One of the many problems that plagued the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ team was their lack of pass rushing efficiency.
According to Football Outsiders, the Bucs ranked 25th in the NFL in terms of getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2013. That number is terribly low and accurately reflects the abysmal 4-12 season.
That will all change this year, though, with the new additions that the Bucs have brought in.
Newcomers Michael Johnson and Clinton McDonald, along with Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn have the potential to wreck havoc in the NFC South.
Johnson, who formerly played with the Cincinnati Bengals, is an effective pass rusher racking up 11.5 sacks in 2012 and 26.5 sacks in his five year career. He was one of the best free agency additions that the Bucs made this offseason, and will bring a lot to the table for the defense.
McDonald comes from the Seattle Seahawks where he helped them win the 2013 Super Bowl. In his four years in the league McDonald has accumulated 5.5 sacks (all coming in the 2013 season), and is just shy of 100 combined career tackles.
Even with these four players, who could make a huge impact next year, the coaching staff is expected to rotate players constantly to keep the linemen fresh. That means that some of the team’s other linemen are going to have to step up this year and give the Bucs some much need depth.
“You’d like to have a rotation where there’s not a lot of drop-off, where if you take out four guys you can put four other guys in there and there’s not a big drop-off,” said Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier. “We’re working towards that; I can’t say that we’re there yet. But pass-rush in our league, it’s everything.”
So yes McDonald and Johnson were the biggest pickups for the Buccaneers so far this offseason, but the real test will be if the second string guys can step up and become play-makers.
One of the guys who are expected to step up is 2011 draft pick, Da’Quan Bowers. Bowers was a force of nature coming out of Clemson, but injuries have kept him from being a productive pick. This year, coaches hope that he can stay healthy and live up to his second round pick potential.
If coaches are able to keep guys healthy and develop the second string guys into productive players such as Johnson and McCoy, then the NFC South is going to have a tough time passing against Tampa.
The future looks bright for this defensive squad as this should be the most talented and successful defensive line that Tampa has seen in many years.