The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are starting to feel the effects of the loss of RDE Adrian Clayborn, their reigning sacks leader whose absence is being felt most noticeably in the pass rush.
Since Clayborn went down with a season-ending knee injury during Tampa Bay's loss at Dallas in Week 3, the Bucs have recorded only two sacks, both of which came against Redskins QB Robert Griffin III three games ago.
The sudden loss of pressure (the Bucs recorded six sacks in their first three games) is due largely to the extra attention LDE Michael Bennett and DT Gerald McCoy are receiving, the team says.
For example, Bennett says his path to the quarterback is now blocked by not only a tackle but a running back he seldom encountered before, and McCoy said he's dealing with more double teams than ever.
"Ever since AC went down, teams are really just scheming down on me and Gerald, and it's making it really hard," Bennett said. "We're seeing two, three, sometimes four blockers. It's crazy. But we'll fight through it."
McCoy said he's seeing mostly double teams, which is nothing new. The difference, he said, is that he's seeing a lot more double teams now than he ever did before.
"That's why I'm working hard to read protections better, so that I can find those one-on-ones again," McCoy said. "I'm not finding many right now, but the ones I do get, I have to win."
Steady as he goes
An offensive lineman usually has to be at his best to stop Vikings RDE Jared Allen. Bucs coach Greg Schiano may be a little concerned, then, because he doesn't think LT Donald Penn is playing his best football right now.
"I think Donald has been steady so far," Schiano said. "I think Donald has better football in him, which we're going to see coming up. But he's been steady so far, so this will be a great matchup for sure."