It almost seems a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? A time where the Tampa Bay Buccaneer pass rush was non-existent. We didn’t care who got a sack. We just wanted someone, anyone, to get to the QB. Not since the days of Sapp and Rice did the Bucs have a potent pass rush.
Right now, Shaq Barrett sits atop the pile of Buccaneers with 14.5 sacks. Whilst that number is a standout figure, Barrett isn’t on his own out there.
Carl Nassib has 5, and JPP, who has missed most of this season, still has 3.5. Suh and Vita Vea have combined for 3 sacks. These are uncharted waters for Tampa Bay, and the group effort hasn’t gone unnoticed. Bruce Arians spoke to the media about the success of Shaq Barrett,
“Yeah, the addition of Jason Pierre-Paul and the way Vita Vea is playing and the way Suh is playing in the middle, having Carl Nassib inside – just having those guys around him, he’s not getting all the attention – the tight end and the chip – so I think that’s helped him tremendously, and the back end is doing a hell of a lot better – coverage is a lot better.”
Whilst it cannot be denied that Barrett has developed into an elite pass rusher, the efforts of the players around him can’t be ignored. When a defense has the weapons that the Bucs have, someone is getting a chance on the opposition QB.
It is certainly a situation that offensive coordinators have to game plan for as every person in the front 7 is a viable threat to set up camp in the backfield. Cover Barrett and any of these guys: Vea, Suh, Nassib, or JPP can cause a problem at any time. In addition to the defense playing better in coverage as mentioned by Bruce Arians, the QB is having to hold the football that little bit longer, and this is widening the window of opportunity for the Buccaneers pass rush.
As mentioned during my recent “BritBuc Invasion”, if the organization is truly serious about building a winner, this defense has to stay together to continue to build and improve. With some consistency, this current defense could certainly challenge the record books and be one of the best that has ever been seen in the Bay Area. Too many games have been lost to poor defensive performances, and if that particular corner is turned, this could very well be a dominant and winning team again.