Michael Bennett‘s departure in the offseason was viewed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an opportunity to let Da’Quan Bowers truly shine. He’ll need to do this fast, as Bennett finished 2012 ranked sixth among 4-3 defensive ends in Pro Football Focus grading while Bowers sat on the other end of a vast chasm at No. 27 in the league.
“I’m looking to be dominant,” Bowers said, via The Tampa Tribune. “I take the responsibility for that. Anything less than double-digit sacks is a failure for the season. … I think the way coach (Greg) Schiano has the scheme set up, and my capabilities, and having (defensive tackle) Gerald (McCoy) draw all the attention, it could be a whole lot easier to get double-digits sacks. You just have to work as a unit and not have individual rush planes, just work as a combined unit.”
“If he wants to be more than just a situational pass rusher, he’s got to grind through it,” said Bucs Coach Greg Schiano. “He’s got to go through the pain of being an every-down player. … I’m sure banking on it. But you’ve got to do it.”
Having McCoy nearby — probably one of the league’s top 3 defensive tackles right now — takes away most excuses for Bowers ability to produce heading into 2013. Health is also another mitigating factor to be thrown out, as for the first time Bowers is — knock on wood — working through the offseason without any major injury questions.
Adding Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson and Johnthan Banks is all well and good, but they can only over for so long without an edge rush that played a huge role in this unit finishing last in pass defense in 2012.