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The Buccaneers' pass rush lacks talent, coaching

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lack a pass rush, and the causes are multiple and many.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a pass rush this season. Any kind of pass rush would help, really. So far we've only seen one player make an impact in the preseason as a pass rusher: Gerald McCoy. No one else has stepped up, which should be a concern. The main concern for the Buccaneers appears to be defensive end Da'Quan Bowers.

He's why the Bucs let Michael Bennett leave. Bennett and his 9 sacks in 2012. Bennett who has looked very good for Seattle in the preseason so far. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are struggling to find anyone to rush the passer. They don't have a second defensive tackle who can do so, or even a first defensive end, and Bennett could have made an impact there.

Of course, having Adrian Clayborn injured doesn't help. And of course, Da'Quan Bowers had some admitted conditioning issues, which didn't help in the first preseason game. He was fine last game, though. Not dominant, but still pretty good. But the issue is -- there's no one who can help McCoy. No one.

Steven Means is a neat player with some good talent -- but he is super raw, and can only bull rush at this point. He needs more time. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim is a nice, try-hard player, but he doesn't have the physical talent to be an impact pass-rusher. William Gholston is a decent run defender and he has the physical talent to maybe develop into a pass rusher on the inside, or a limited bull rusher on the outside, but he isn't there yet. The only player who I have some hope for this season is Aaron Morgan -- and he hasn't taken a snap this preseason due to an injury.

The other issue, though, and we keep coming back to this, is badly executed and badly designed stunts and blitzes. The Buccaneers didn't blitz a ton against Tom Brady, and probably rightly so, but they sure had their defensive line move after the snap a lot. And that can certainly help, but there are two problems with stunts: they take time to develop, and they are easily neutralized if not perfectly executed.

Watch the highlights from the Patriots opening drive, including the two-point conversion. Those are five passes. Five. All of them featured the defensive line stunting. None of those stunts came even remotely close to threatening Brady. In fact, the only one to even sniff Brady's breath was Akeem Spence on a nice quick move on the center on the first play. That's horrendous.

So, here's the thing. The Buccaneers are not good at defensive line stunts. In fact, they haven't been good at them since Monte Kiffin left in 2008. Stunts can certainly be very useful, and the Bucs used to rely on them heavily back in the glory days. But they work when they're properly executed. And every bit of game tape I can watch says that the Bucs are awful at executing stunts.

The Bucs are awful at stunts.

The Bucs are awful at stunts.

The Bucs are awful at stunts.

The Bucs are awful at stunts

By all means, practice the stunts. They're useful. Throw them out there in preseason. Drill them into your players' skulls.

But please, please stop using them if they don't work. Don't call them on third down when your players have never shown that they can use them to get to the quarterbacks. Stop satisfying your coaching genius with stuff that hasn't worked for the Bucs for years. Just stop it.

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