Buccaneers Position Battles: Da'Quan Bowers deserves to start for the Buccaneers

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be punishing Da'Quan Bowers for some imagined offenses.

Da'Quan Bowers has had a pretty good preseason. You wouldn't think it based on the ridiculous amount of criticism he's faced, but the defensive end has managed to use his power to drive back offensive tackles regulary, and has generally looked disruptive when not lined up at defensive tackle. He improved in every game, and had another fairly decent game with limited playing time yesterday. He was in on both of the first two sacks, despite the fact that they were credited to Trevor Scott.

Greg Schiano, though, started Daniel Te'o-Nesheim over Da'Quan Bowers. Not only that, but Te'o-Nesheim played much, much more. Bowers only came in on rushing downs -- and he continued to come in on rushing downs until the very end of the game. Clearly the Bucs are preparing to start Te'o-Nesheim over Bowers.

Te'o-Nesheim is, mostly, just a guy. Adrian Clayborn regularly beat his man, both on the left and right side. Da'Quan Bowers made an impact as a pass rusher on the few snaps he received. Trevor Scott came in and got three sacks (although one of them should have been split with Bowers). But Te'o-Nesheim? Nothing.

I went back through the game today. I am not kidding when I say that Te'o-Nesheim didn't beat his man once. Not once. And he didn't stand out in previous games, either. He's a nice, effort-based player who will do his job -- but he won't make an impact. And that's exactly what Bowers will do. Bowers, incidentally, did beat his man with some regularity.

That's not to say that Bowers is playing great football. He isn't. He's playing good football and getting some regular pressure, but it isn't as a good as it could be. He has the physical talent to do better, and that's what frustrates Schiano. But that doesn't excuse benching a better player because he isn't reaching his ultimate potential. That's nonsense. Whether it's a motivational tactic or not (and we know some of his players don't like his motivations).

Bowers is playing better than Te'o-Nesheim, and it isn't close. It just isn't. Turning Bowers into a pass-rush specialist only is just a waste of his considerable physical gifts. It needs to stop. The Bucs need to give Bowers snaps ahead of Te'o-Nesheim, because he's simply the better player.

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