The Bucs' pass rush looks to be much improved

Last year, Gerald McCoy was constantly moved around the defensive line. He would be at 3-technique one play, then at nose tackle, then at defensive end, and then at defensive end or nose tackle when the Bucs went to their 3-3-5. This stunted the third overall pick's growth as a defensive lineman, and also prevented him from getting to the quarterback at times, even when he was playing well. With new defensive line coaches this year, this was supposed to change, as the Bucs vowed to keep Gerald McCoy at 3-technique. This was supposed to lead to more pass pressure, as the Bucs struggled to get to the quarterback last season. 

So far, so good. Although Gerald McCoy played both nose tackle and 3-technique against the Patriots, he was kept inside and the 3-3-5 did not make an appearance with the base defense. The fact that he also played some downs at nose tackle is a little perplexing, as the point of having him play 3-technique is to try to isolate him against offensive guards. Playing him at nose tackle almost forces a double team on him, which limits his effectiveness on passing downs. You want your best pass rusher to rush one-on-one, not to soak up double teams. 

That aside, the defensive line on passing downs now seems to consist of Michael Bennett and Dekoda Watson at defensive end and Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn at defensive tackle. Michael Bennett and Dekoda Watson are clearly the Bucs' two best edge rushers, although Bowers and Clayborn may challenge them for that title with a little more experience. Gerald McCoy is clearly the Bucs' best interior pass rusher, and even Adrian Clayborn looked decent as a 3-technique. 

Eventually, I would expect this pass-rushing package to change once Brian Price becomes fully healthy (which could take a while) and once Clayborn and Bowers develop as edge rushers. But for now, the Bucs' pass rush looks potent: they played it on three downs (that's how few pure passing downs the Bucs faced), and got significant pressure on two of them. If the Bucs don't go back to predominantly rushing three players on passing downs, expect to see opposing quarterbacks on the ground this season. 

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