There’s a bit of a buzz around Buccaneers 2018 double-digit sack leader Jason Pierre-Paul. The news, as it sits right now, is that he’s poised for a Week 8 return. This seems like a great thing, and in many ways, it can be, but the buzzing question is: Who does he replace?
The void Pierre-Paul left when he broke his neck in a car wreck during the off-season was vast. The coaching staff was in the midst of making their personnel changes. The scheme was being redone, and players were being released, and new ones were being brought in. His injury put him behind. Licht, Arians, and Bowles came up with another plan. It was a tough predicament.
Skip forward to now: OLB Shaquil Barrett is the Defensive Player of the Month for September, and Carl Nassib is a commanding presence on the opposite side of the line. So this raises the question again: Who does he replace?
The answer isn’t that simple. On one hand, you’ve got a stand out stud who’s been proven time and time again coming off an injury that could have landed him in a wheelchair or possibly worse. On the other, you’ve got Shaq Barrett. There’s no way Arians and Bowles, take the hot hand out and Barrett shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. There’s a bit more to that, however.
Bruce Arians, before Pierre-Paul was hurt, said in his interview at the owners’ meeting that he thought he’d enjoy playing over guards. This would mean he’d be lining up as a 3-4 DE like another run-stuffing DE turned lineman William Gholston. This would make more sense as Pierre-Paul commands attention from offensive linemen, and he’s used to playing with his hand in the dirt. If/when Pierre-Paul does make his return, you could look for a waiver of a no-name special teams guy, and more than likely, a lineman rotation, but not in a starting role until later in the season; if at all. He’ll have to find his niche in this scheme.