When DE Adrian Clayborn — the Buccaneers’ most productive pass rusher in 2011 — was placed on injured reserve in September, the Bucs knew that offenses would be able to direct more of their attention to protecting against the remaining top pass rushers on the team.
DT Gerald McCoy and DE Michael Bennett have faced more double-teams and chip help with Clayborn sidelined, and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan has struggled to find ways to spark the pass rush minus Clayborn.
The Bucs recorded seven sacks in the first three games of the season, before Clayborn suffered his season ending knee injury in the fourth quarter of Tampa Bay’s Week Three game at Dallas. The Bucs have recorded only 11 sacks in the nine games since then.
We’re told the Bucs believe their coverage in the back end is at least as much of a reason for the defense’s struggles vs. the pass this season as the front end. However, we also hear that the club believes that McCoy — the third overall pick in 2010 draft — should be beating double-teams a bit more than he has this season. McCoy recorded all three of his sacks in this season's first three games, when Clayborn was healthy.