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Double-Digit Sacks on the horizon for Bucs DE Gaines Adams?

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Back in the Spring of 2007 we had spirited debates on who the Buccaneers should draft. The consensus had the Bucs trading up two spots with the Detroit Lions to draft WR Calvin Johnson. Had that not taken place there was a huge difference of opinion in who the Bucs should draft. The debate revolved around drafting DE Gaines Adams, OT Joe Thomas, RB Adrian Peterson, and DT Amobi Okoye. The argument against Gaines was that he was too small, looking more like a wideout than a defensive lineman. The drawback from Thomas was that he’s an offensive lineman, no fan base wants to see a lineman get drafted with a Top 5 pick, plus the Browns were a lock to get him. We figured Caddy and Earnest were enough to preclude us from drafting Adrian though we all still wanted him. Lastly people questioned whether Amobi could make it in the NFL considering how young he was.

Fast forward to now and we all know what happened. The Lions drafted yet another WR (Calvin Johnson), the Browns stuck with Thomas (who was fishing on draft day), Amobi (10th to Texans) and Adrian (7th to Vikings) fell down the board, and the Bucs took a chance on Clemson Defensive End Gaines Adams with the 4th Overall Pick. Two years into his career and Gaines has 76 tackles, 12.5 sacks (6 in ’07, 6.5 in ’08), two interceptions, and a smattering of forced fumbles. Suffice to say those aren’t the numbers the Buccaneers envisioned. Some might even say that 2009 is a make or break year for Gaines. That he has to register double digit sacks. I’m inclined to jump on that band wagon. Never fear Bucs fans new Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates is here to help Gaines reach his potential:

"It is wide open for [Gaines] as far as the ability level. You can't ever say until after you go through a season with a young man, but we've had tremendous success with guys, I mentioned at the first press conference, Jason Taylor went from 2.5 sacks to 14.5 to 17. Gaines had five or six last year. There is no reason why he can't be a big time sacker in this league. Through our experience the second year going into the third year is the biggest jump in production. I think it is because of the maturity level of defensive linemen especially. What they learn, how to practice, how to go through a 16 game season, how to keep their body in total shape. If they have the ability and they are willing to be coached and they are hard workers the biggest jump that I've seen in football over the years, this isn't every individual, but is in the second to third year." - Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates on Gaines Adams potential this season per the Pewter Report

Head Coach Raheem Morris expects big things from Gaines this season as well:

"Gaines is about ready to reach his plateau. He started off his first eight games of the season fast, exciting, explosive - scoring touchdowns. We were all excited about him. He didn't finish so fast - just like the rest of our team. Gaines is a part of that team and a part of finishing strong that we talked about in our first press conference." - Head Coach Raheem Morris on Gaines Adams potential this season per the Pewter Report

Defensive End Gaines Adams on his potential next year:

"I’m just working on hand placement and being in the right place at the right time and just knowing the scheme. I just have to try to do the little things as far as the weight room to keep my endurance up and try to play all 16 games. Being the fourth pick in the draft, there are high expectations for you, obviously. You have to work your way into the system and learn. You are going against 10- or 12-year tackles. We are all competitors, when a coach comes up to you and says we have to do something better, obviously you have to step your game up. With Coach Bates, he’s going to help me get to those (double-digit) sacks." - Defensive End Gaines Adams on his potential this season per the Pewter Report

I’m really excited to see what Gaines Adams can do this season. Everyone knows Bates documented success with Jason Taylor, Aaron Kampman, and Trace Armstrong. All of those guys doubled their sack production under Bates. To piggy back on Bates theory that third year defensive ends truly make a jump in production I did semi-research and found that defensive ends such as Justin Tuck (Giants 0 to 10), Trent Cole (Eagles 8 to 12.5), Bobby McCray (Saints 5.5 to 10), Patrick Kerney (Seahawks 2.5 to 12), Osi Umenyiora (Giants 7 to 14), Adewale Ogunleye (Bears 9.5 to 15), Trevor Pryce (Ravens 8.5 to 13), John Randle (Vikings 9.5 to 11), and Kevin Greene (Steelers 6.5 to 16.5) all found double digit success in their third years in the league, so there’s proof that these guys can turn a corner. The question is whether Gaines can reach that plateau.

I wouldn’t say he is a bust at this point, but he isn’t providing the production you would expect from a Top 5 Draft Pick. He’s a solid defensive end, as he has shown the ability to disrupt the passer, it’s just a matter of sustaining that success, like Raheem said. The move to bump-and-run should really help him as it allows him a little bit more time to get to the Quarterback. Speed rushers from College tend to struggle early on in the Pros because the QB’s get rid of the ball so fast. To Gaines credit he’s really had to anchor the line from his Rookie season on, meaning offenses were able to key in on him more often than not. Hopefully Bates Defensive Tackles can help Mr. Adams and whoever lines up opposite him (White/Wilkerson).