Lovie Smith and Leslie Fraizer want to generate a pass rush with their front four. They have the best three-technique in the NFL to help them do that, and they signed Michael Johnson and Clinton McDonald to get that pass rush going.
"That's the way it should be,'' Da'Quan Bowers told the Tampa Tribune. "We shouldn't have to rely on five-man and six-man blitzes to get pressure on the quarterback. Coach Lovie has put it upon ourselves as D-linemen to get it done, so we're going to take the challenge.''
Part of the project to produce a consistent front four pass rush was the hire of two defensive line coaches: Joe Cullen and Mike Phair, both of them having been mentored by Rod Marinelli in the past. Defensive end William Gholston talked to JoeBucsFan and was surprisingly positive on the coaching change. It's clear from watching the video that he prefers the new staff's approach.
"Last year they hit a lot of great points," Gholston said. "They showed you football and everything like that. But the coaching [unintelligible] is completely broken down individually in the same amount of time. He breaks down both sides of the end, the interior guys, shows us techniques, gives us examples, writes it down, he will stand up and show us. It's great. I don't know what other word to put it. Coach Cullen and coach Phair, great coaches."
That's not particularly complimentary of last year's coaching staff, which given their consistent lack of production and development of defensive linemen isn't all that surprising.
Some skepticism is still warranted, though. It seems like we've had some "these defensive line coaches are great" stories every other year. Offseason hype is one thing, regular season production is another thing entirely. To whit, Joe Cullen has never coached a defensive lineman to double-digit sacks in the NFL, though his collective units did perform admirably. Mike Phair's history with the Chicago Bears is a little more impressive, but neither coach's track record is particularly inspiring.
That doesn't mean we'll see the defensive linemen fail this year. Far from it, as the Bucs added a significant amount of talent, may add some more in the draft, and should at least see some improvement from their younger players, specifically William Gholston. But it may be a bit ambitious to expect a dominant defensive line this year.