I thought before the season started that Michael Johnson was the most important free agent acquisition for the Bucs. Getting another pass rusher alongside Gerald McCoy was a must for this organization.
After the first three games of this season, you could have made the case that Johnson was the biggest free agent disappointment for the Bucs. In fairness to Johnson, he's been slowed by an ankle injury that occurred in the first game of the season. Yesterday afternoon, Johnson set the tone for the Bucs defense. On the third offensive play for the Steelers, Johnson had s strip sack of Ben Roethlisberger. That set up the teams first touchdown. Johnson finished with 2 sacks. The Bucs defense finished with five total.
If you don't think the Bucs defense set the tone early, just read what Lovie Smith said after the game. "The defense was able to get pressure today. That first takeaway really set the tone." Did it ever. Not only did the Bucs get some pressure on Roethlisberger, they conained La'Veon Bell as well. Some considered Bell to be the best back in the league heading into this game. The Bucs defense held him to 63 yards rushing on 19 carries. Hardly a dominate performance.
The Bucs still have a ways to go to be a dominate defense. The linebackers continue to struggle covering tight ends. And there are still too many guys running free in the secondary. But if the Bucs can get pressure with their front four, all of those problems become correctable. Having Johnson play the way he did yesterday is a big first step.