Sacks Matter

July 6th, 2021

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul

Four years ago if you bet Joe the following would have happened, Joe would have lost his house.

After the 2017 season, the Bucs were simply atrocious in getting after the quarterback. In fact, the Bucs had a total of 22 sacks that year. In other words, the Bucs were horribly pathetic rushing the quarterback.

A few months later at the combine in frigid Indianapolis, Joe, sitting just one person away from then-Bucs coach Dirk Koetter at a press gathering, asked Koetter what the Bucs needed to accomplish to get back to winning.

Koetter looked straight in Joe’s eyes and said, “I can tell you what we can’t do. We can’t have just 22 sacks.”

Even then, some readers came after Joe trying to con Joe into saying sacks don’t matter. Oh really?

So take a wild guess, as the confetti filled the Sunday night air in early February at The Licht House, what team had the most sacks in the regular season and through the playoffs? That would be the Bucs, who finished with 58 sacks.

Yes, pressure sure helps as we witnessed with Shaq Barrett chasing Pat Mahomes all over west Tampa that night. But sacks are drive-killers.

Sacks matters.

You think it was just a coincidence that the Bucs led the NFL in sacks through 20 games and the Bucs also won the Super Bowl? Joe doesn’t believe in coincidences.

Four years ago Joe would have bet the house on a lead pipe lock that the Bucs would not lead the NFL in sacks through the 2020 regular season and postseason.

Joe may have been homeless but would at least have slept well on a green bench in St. Petersburg, comforted with the knowledge that the Bucs won the Super Bowl.

Stats courtesy of Bucs media relations.

13 Responses to “Sacks Matter”

  1. Long John Says:


  2. Buczilla Says:

    We will need even more sacks this year if we hope to repeat. There ain’t no dummies in the NFL and teams will be ready for our defense more so than last year.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that Tryon can get close to double digit sacks this year. Hell, he may even be in the running for defensive rookie of the year like Chase Young was last year when he had an unprecedented, incredible, 7.5 sacks. Nevermind, Tryon would have to at least double that number to get a whiff of DROY since he does not play in the Northeast or for the Cowboys.

  3. Pine Hills Says:

    Devin White was very good rushing too.

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    Buczilla … Yes it’d be nice if Tryon got double-digit sacks, but it’s hard to see that happening as long as Shaq & JPP stay healthy. Both of them hate to come off the field, and Tryon will have to hustle IMO just to get 30-35% of the defensive snaps. Shaq’s got his contract, and JPP will be pushing hard to get re-signed I’ll bet so he can end his career as a Buc. And oh ya, I think Nelson will improve even more this year. He’ll get his share of snaps too.

    And Joe, there’s no question that sacks matter, but I think it’s much deeper than that. It’s all about pressure IMO, and sacks are certainly the ultimate pressure. But consistent pressure on the QB put on by guys like Shaq and yes, Will Gholston last year, is HUUUGE in keeping the opposing offense off-balance & limiting the pass plays they can run. And I think its especially HUUUGE when the opposing offense knows they can’t successfully run on you. You really cut down their ‘options’ IOW.

    The Bucs last 2 years from a defensive standpoint have been remarkable to me. Bucs were #1 both years in run defense, with almost identical performances. In 2019 opponents ran on us 362 times gaining 1181 yds & scoring 11 rushing TDs while getting 222 first downs via the run. In 2020 opponents ran on us 358 times gaining 1289 yds & scoring 10 rushing TDs while getting 215 first downs via the run. Near identical performances in the regular season.

    Sacks & QB Hits were also almost identical in the 2 years. Bucs got 47 sacks & 117 QB Hits in 2019, almost identical to the 48 sacks & 116 QB Hits that we got in 2020. But when you look at performances by individual players, 2019 & 2020 results were often dramatically different (as was our season record obviously). For instance, Shaq had 19.5 sacks & 16 QB Knockdowns (for 36 QB Hits) in 2019 (plus 14 QB Hurries) & blitzed 174 times. But in 2020 he only had 8 sacks & 8 QB Knockdowns (for 16 QB Hits) plus 24 QB Hurries & blitzed only 121 times (53 fewer blitzes). JPP had about the same stats in 2020 as he had in 2019, but Nelson’s improved significantly (only had 1 sack last year, but his total QB Pressures increased from 0 in 2019 to 13 in 2020). Same thing with Devin White; his QB Pressures increased dramatically from 5 in 2019 way up to 20 in 2020 (interestingly LVD’s dropped quite a bit in 2020).

    Looks to me like Todd Bowles made some significant adjustments to how various defensive players were being used in his defense between 2019 & 2020. The overall stats in many aspects were essentially the same, even in the passing game … but the results in terms of winning were dramatically different. Bucs allowed 449 pts in 2019, but only 355 pts in 2020. Interestingly, our defense allowed 11 rushing TDs & 30 passing TDs in 2019, and 10 rushing TDs & 29 passing TDs in 2020 … not very different.

    The biggest different between the 2 seasons I think was TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL. In 2019 Bucs had 41 giveaways vs 28 takeaways for a TO Differential of MINUS 13. In 2020 Bucs had 17 giveaways vs 25 takeaways for a TO Differential of PLUS 8. IMO that’s the primary difference in the 2 seasons.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Steelers 56
    Rams 53
    Eagles 49
    Cardinals 48
    Bucs 48

    Not to diminish leading in sacks for 20 games…..the Bucs tied for 4th in the league’s regular season…..still, quite an accomplishment.

  6. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:

    ALL SACKS MATTER, but true pressure can lead to turnovers.

  7. SufferingSince76 Says:

    “and the Bucs win the Super Bowl.” Still trying to come to terms with that fact 5 months later. Please don’t let me wake up from this dream! 😁

  8. SufferingSince76 Says:


  9. PSL Bob Says:

    I get the idea that the Bucs are much better at rushing the passer than they were in 2017, and now we’re one of (or the) best in the league at sacking the QB. However, if you’re going to do stats, I don’t like the idea of giving “totals” if you include both the regular season and playoffs. Clearly teams that play fewer games are likely to have fewer stats. A better analysis would be “sacks per game.” Then if you include the playoffs it’s ok.

  10. BUCFAN4LIFE Says:

    Shaq , JPP , Devin (gotta’ get a cool “moniker” for him) and the rest of the “D” will DEFINITELY be trying to “up” that number this coming Season ! The rest of the NFL Teams have been put on “NOTICE” ! GO BUCS AND BOLTS !!!! Git’ Er’ DONE !!!!

  11. UKBuccaneer Says:

    I don’t believe a single person has ever argued that sacks don’t matter.

    What is true is that sacks aren’t a very reliable indicator of defensive quality – pressures are.

  12. Youngbucs Says:

    Defense Rules of course it’s turnover differential any person with common sense know this. I’ve laid out your same points numerous times just happy the Bucs cut out the fat.

  13. Brandon Says:

    July 6th, 2021 at 1:39 pm
    Shaq , JPP , Devin (gotta’ get a cool “moniker” for him) and the rest of the “D” will DEFINITELY be trying to “up” that number this coming Season ! The rest of the NFL Teams have been put on “NOTICE” ! GO BUCS AND BOLTS !!!! Git’ Er’ DONE

    Devin "The Great" White