Last week Tampa lost a tough game even though the defense put up a dominant performance. In that game, Gerald McCoy and Michael Bennett combined for four sacks, two forced fumbles and four tackles for lose. Those numbers jump of the page to any football fan and especially so for Bucs fans, who have become accustom to Tampa having an inept pass rush the last few years.
The fact that McCoy and Bennett have proven to be so efficient in disrupting the passing game should easy the minds of fans who are worrying about the lose of Adrian Clayborn. After three games, these two players seem bound for pro bowl type years, but they have not even had their best games of this young season.
One key factor can prove that this front four will thrive in the wake of losing their best edge setter, and that factor was a problem all season long until late last night. For the first time this season, the real NFL officials will hit the field.
All season long, NFL defenses have been at a major disadvantage. This comes from the replacement referees and their inexperience in calling NFL games. This has led to more holding by opposing offensive lines not being called, thus hurting defensive fronts.
For the Buccaneers specifically, both McCoy and Bennett have been held on numerous occasions. Despite this, both have preformed at All-Pro levels thus far this season.
McCoy in particular consistently beat double teams and multiple instances of blow holding calls, especially against Carolina where he came away with a sack. Had he not have been held most of that game, McCoy had a chance of a 3+ sack day.
Bennett has also been held consistently, and on a few occasions it saved opposing QB's from getting hit. Assuming the officials come in with better performances then have been seen by the replacements the last three weeks, Robert Griffin III should be very sore on Sunday.