Previewing the Buccaneer defensive line for 2010
How times change. Go back almost a decade and an article like this would be criticising Anthony McFarland for not posting double-digit sacks or Simeon Rice for not playing the run quite well enough.
But at least Buccaneer fans can be really positive about an improved defensive line in the months ahead - Chris Hovan is in St.Louis! I mean, what were the Rams thinking?
Go back and watch any game film from 2009 and you could see centers and guards handling Hovan and fellow defensive tackle (their word not ours) Ryan Sims one-on-one. Which meant that one could shift outside to handle the end rush, or pull into the second level and take Barrett Ruud out of the play on runs.
So was it any surprise that the Bucs not only got themselves their primary target of Gerald McCoy in the draft, but then doubled up their DT boost by taking Brian Price from UCLA with their top second pick too. Don't expect miracles overnight from either rookie - Warren Sapp did not do too much his first two seasons whilst he learned the system and pro game.
Sims is still on the roster (for now) and second-year man Roy Miller will be part of the tackle rotation, so necessary in today's NFL game. Any kind of inside pressure will be more than the Bucs had in 2009.
Outside is not exactly blessed with pass rushers who can give opposing quarterbacks nightmares but there should be an improvement simply because of the better play inside. Stylez G.White and Tim Crowder are right now pencilled in as starters with 2009 4th round pick Kyle Moore and a cast of nobodies behind him.
There is defensive end help out there in the NFL right now with former Bear Adewale Ogunleye and Cornelius Griffin still free agents. Both are the wrong side of 30 and would be short term measures but with the lack of depth at the position, I don't see how this could be a step back in 2010.
You've been great - enjoy Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
Paul Stewart, TBO.com, July 2010