Same Expectations, Different Results

November 1st, 2023

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Given their persistent offensive doldrums, the Bucs are relying on the other side of the ball to deliver game-changing plays.

It’s not happening, in large part because two supposed play-makers continue to struggle.

As a result, opposing teams are feasting on third down to the tune of a 50.5 percent success rate. This defense can’t get off the field and Todd Bowles can’t get two of his key leaders to recapture past glory.

Shaq Barrett and Devin White have played together since 2019, when White was a promising first-round pick out of LSU and Barrett was an offseason addition from Denver who wasn’t considered a coveted free-agent.

Bucs are desperate for Devin White to raise his deflated game, writes Ira Kaufman.

The Bucs signed Barrett to a 1-year, $4-million deal and he proved to be a revelation coming off the edge with 19.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles in the first year of the Bruce Arians regime.

During the 2020 championship season, White emerged as a star with 140 tackles and a startling 9 sacks as an inside linebacker. He was even better in the playoffs, leading Buc fans to anoint him as a perennial Pro Bowler.

But with Tampa Bay in the throes of a 3-game losing streak, White and Barrett are mired in extended slumps. And when you average only 17 points per game, you need your defensive stalwarts to lead the way. Perhaps things will change Sunday in Houston, but rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has been exceptional with ball security.

In 237 pass attempts, Stroud has been intercepted only once. He moves well, helping him avoid sacks while keeping his eyes downfield.

Barrett turned in a game-saving interception against Chicago in Week 2 and he’s a year removed from a torn Achilles, so his overall lack of production comes with an asterisk. Still, he registered only 3 sacks before his 2022 season ended in Week 8.

Nobody expects another year like 2019, but Barrett turns 31 in a few weeks and he’s not giving Bowles the constant disruption off the left side that makes quarterbacks uncomfortable. In his last 13 games, Shaq Barrett has posted only 3 sacks. Perhaps more telling, he has been credited with only 7 QB hits in that span.

During 16 games in 2019, Barrett registered 37 hits.

Barrett has dealt with unbearable personal tragedy and no one in the locker room doubts his resolve and strength of character. But the NFL’s sixth-ranked scoring defense could use a spark before this tailspin gets any deeper and threatens Bowles’ job security.

As defensive coordinator in 2019, it was Bowles who turned Barrett loose, leading to a fat contract for a player who didn’t start a single game for the Broncos in 2018. For his part, Barrett is frustrated by what he perceives as inconsistency from officials who look the other way at obvious holds by offensive linemen paid to keep Barrett at bay.

Can Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett recapture his consistency?

If Barrett is guilty of being an underperformer, he’s not alone.

At the age of 25, White should be the face of this defense by now. He’s not — and Buc Nation has every right to wonder why. White is not making things happen on the field, so it’s safe to say the Bucs are in no rush to make things happen with White’s agent in terms of a long-term extension.

It’s hard to believe a player with White’s undeniable skills has now gone 13 consecutive games without a sack (plus one on the postseason). Hold on, there’s more. In the past 14 games, White has zero forced fumbles and ONE tackle for loss.


There are long stretches in games when White’s presence goes unnoticed. He’s not making any splash plays, the kind that energizes teammates and saps the will of opponents.

If this attack continues to plod along, it’s up to the defense to be a difference-maker. White and Barrett need to step up and generate momentum by returning to past form, when they were fab and this was a defense to be feared.

41 Responses to “Same Expectations, Different Results”

  1. Steven Says:

    Neither are doing enough to be on next years roster at their current salary level. White is particularly disappointing and seems content living off the past glory of Superbowl 55. He wont be getting $20 mil from anyone next year!!!

  2. Craig Says:

    Shaq has not been underperforming. It is the other side of the line that is. The opposition can stack two or three players against Shaq and the other side still doesn’t get close to the QB.

    It shows how staid Bowles defense is. If they moved Shaq around some he would be more productive. He also gets forced into playing OLB too often because D. White goes off to La-La land and isn’t there to cover the TE or RB that lines up to draw Shaq away.

    If D. White played to his potential the whole defense would uplifted.

  3. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Some say: “Defense wins football games”
    I say: “Scoring the most points wins football games”

  4. Beej Says:

    I don’t know that we should resign White at ANY price. I’m good with starting Dennis in his spot and signing LD for another year

  5. AtlBuc Says:

    Craig Says:
    November 1st, 2023 at 12:21 pm
    Shaq has not been underperforming.

    I agree. Shaq has not been getting sacks but has been setting the edge and is pretty good vs the run. White? Sometimes, I actually forget he’s out there.

  6. adam from ny Says:

    is it true that the gm dangled a trade of coach bowles and oc canales to the raiders for josh jacobs and a 7th rounder ?

    omg that’s wild !!

  7. BucsFanSince1996 Says:

    Whether White wants to remain here in Tampa or not is irrelevant. He’s in a contract year so has all the motivation he needs to perform. He’s got to be playing with an injury that is having a major impact on his production. There’s no other reasonable explanation for his lack of splash plays.

  8. Lombardi Lenny Says:

    Bowles is getting too cute the way he uses Devin. I’d argue the lack of production we are seeing from him is mostly on Bowles and how he is using him in these soft zones.

    Its totally different than the 2020 season when they were both playing like rock star’s.
    Just another example of why Todd needs to be terminated after a loss in Houston, if the Bucs were to lose. Get this man out of the picture so he cant do any more damage.

  9. Upstate NY BUC Says:

    White and Dean DOG it every other play, I watched Them closely 2 series straight Thursday night in row 4 in end zone… bad. real bad. My son plays school ball and he was calling them out … we cannot resign White, no thanks. Go Bucs

  10. TexasBuc 1976 Says:

    Devin White reminds me of that quote from Bull Durham “Million dollar arm, ten cent brain”. He has exceptional raw talent but no head for the game.

  11. Since76 Says:

    The defense isn’t the problem with this team. Let’s start talking about the biggest problem with the bucs. The passing game. We are not going to run the ball until we can pass the ball. We can pass block decently. “Not that it matters if you don’t have a competent QB.” But the line doesn’t run block well. So why is this team not adjusting to what it does well. Is Mayfield really that bad.

  12. Bucswin Says:

    But if we had an offense…. GO BUCS

  13. BucsFanSince1996 Says:

    Upstate NY BUC Says:
    November 1st, 2023 at 1:32 pm
    White and Dean DOG it every other play, I watched Them closely 2 series straight Thursday night in row 4 in end zone… bad. real bad. My son plays school ball and he was calling them out … we cannot resign White, no thanks. Go Bucs
    White’s in a contract year and wanting to get paid 20 million/year. I seriously doubt he’s intentionally dogging it.

    I’d bet good money that he’s playing with a significant injury that’s constraining him from playing anywhere near his potential.

    In the first game of the season against the Vikings White played GREAT! But two weeks later when intercepting a pass against Philly he ran like an 80 year old man for a bit then ran out of bounds when he might of had a pick 6 if he had been 100%

  14. WillieG Says:

    It’s like White wants to leave Tampa and get a lowball deal elsewhere. Every crappy game costs him thousands (millions?).

  15. Rod Munch Says:

    Ira, I’ve read you for decades, but how do you not address the fact that White is being forced to play zone defense 90% of the time and is being completely wasted by Bowles and crew? That the Bucs literally are not running the same attacking defense they used to run, that they’re just sitting back in zone and letting opponents move the ball at will.

    Yes, technically they’re still blitzing, but these are simple 5 man rushes, we don’t see exotic blitzes hardly at all. Remember the Packers game from 2020, with White and David doing all sorts of stunts, coming from all angles? When is the last time we’ve seen that?

    No, Bowles has just gone to a lazy, soft, loose zone and guys like White, Davis and Dean, who are not guys who fit that scheme, are being wasted away.

    In retrospect White should have followed through on his trade request – Bowles has completely destroyed his value by telling him just to sit back in soft coverage when that’s literally what he does the worst.

    With that said, the defense is limiting points, so Bowles does get credit for that – and if this team had a real NFL QB and something close to an average offense, they’d be one of the best teams in the NFC. But as a head coach you have to do more than just tell your QB not to turn the ball over – you need to score points as well.

  16. orlbucfan Says:

    Thanks, Ira. I was wondering where White is cos it sure isn’t the games he’s been in. LVD is playing at his usual HOF level, but White? Did one of his pet horses kick him in the head? Cos he sure plays like it. JTS catches more flak on here than White, but he, at least, is getting some sacks and getting in the backfield. Barrett? If he’s getting held then outwit the clown doing it. He oughta know by now that the refs are not Buc fans. There better be some action outta White and Shaq this Sunday. They’re playing the Texans, not the godalmighty 49ers!

  17. BrianBucs Says:

    Luckily for the Bucs LVD and Winfield are having monster seasons to help offset the underachieving ones

  18. ElioT Says:

    Mark my words.

    This is Stroud’s coming out game.

    Bucs will make him look like a lock for rookie of the year.

  19. Rich Says:

    Finally the JBF peeps are realizing that 45 is not, repeat NOT, a very good player. Those claiming injury must be the reason need to somehow go back over the last two years and review the game film….he’s been really bad yet still enjoying media hype from the lone year of good productivity. He’s lazy, never shakes off a block even from rbs, not at all instinctive, seldom prevents YAC, still can’t cover anyone. He was still named a captain again this year…are you freakin kidding me? Good coaches and organizations know when to get rid of a player….he should have been traded this past off season because he will never bring even a modest return now. This loyalty from the Bucs brass is not warranted…in the least!

  20. jugheadfla1 Says:

    Raiders just cleaned house…….is our ownership to chicken spit to do the same because its very much needed?

  21. adam from ny Says:

    if white is really hurt and toughing it out to a mediocre season, it shouldn’t be kept a secret much longer…


    because he already had the bye week to rest up, and he also just had the mini bye week on top of that…

    so if he’s really hurting, it ain’t gonna get much better moving forward…

    the chance to rest and heal prolly already occurred…

    so what’s going on ?

    i find when i’m not meeting my max potential in key areana, i just might need a special lady of the night, with a sick azz skill set, to pull all that nutt outta me…

    it calms the nerves. clears the head, and can make you feel like a new man 🙂

  22. Beej Says:

    Three and four is not clean house time, maybe three and seven

  23. BucsFan81 Says:

    Lots of decisions need to be made in the off season. We need to trim the fat and all these high priced veterans that don’t want to perform need to go. Devin White and Shaq see you later. Baker can go to he sucks. Ryan Neal bye bye. Gauge the WR that’s always hurt see you later. Rest of those damn CB that are like glass and always injured and soft bye bye Dean and Davis. Let’s start getting some damn people that show up game after game and play and want to be here and put in effort like Wirfs and Winfield. We about to free up a ton of money next year and let some of these bums go. That includes Bowles and this crappy coaching staff.

  24. Mike S Says:

    Defense is only giving up 18.3 points per game.

    Why is Ira putting out 1000 word articles on underperforming defensive players?

    Yeah we get it – probably moving on from these players after 2023.

    Sure would be nice if Trask could be the QB and then the Bucs could then draft other positions of need – like LB, RB and DE in the first three rounds, but hey we got to save Bowles job with a 500 record because that’s more important.

  25. Mike S Says:

    adam from ny I don’t think that worked all that well for a certain QB in Cleveland.

  26. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Good news, they face a bunch of Rookie QBs coming up. Stroud,Levis, 2x Bryce Young. Say what you want about Bowles, he is a master at disguising coverages and turning rookie QBs inside out. Clean up the penalties and they sweep the Aints and Pantyliners, split with Atl, and put the Oilseeds 2.0 in their place.

  27. Destinjohnny Says:

    We have 5-6 win talent
    Not hard to figure out
    We have a crap roster

  28. adam from ny Says:

    @Mike S:

    it sorta did workout…didn’t he get the richest qb guaranteed deal ever, at the time…

    but also let’s make it clear – i do not condone what he was accused of doing, or was doing…i don’t follow the story or outcome that closely…

    i do support finding yourself a really good hoover vacuum tho 🙂

  29. Darin Says:

    Bs. Every team has the same talent they’re plucked from the same draft. Only the coaching and QB can make that much a difference. Bad teams have either bad coaching or bad QB play, or both.

  30. Statisticly Insignificant Reader Says:

    I think you can throw a lot more players in that under performing list. Both sides of the ball.

  31. Lakeland Steve Says:

    Licht is a very smart guy and White will not get another contract playing like he is. The good news is he can still turn it around and be the player we all saw in the Super Bowl season. We don’t make it to the playoffs unless White turns into the disrupter he once was.

  32. Defense Rules Says:

    Rod Munch … ‘With that said, the defense is limiting points, so Bowles does get credit for that – and if this team had a real NFL QB and something close to an average offense, they’d be one of the best teams in the NFC.’

    Last I checked, the difference between Points Scored and Points Allowed determines the winner of NFL games. When your offense averages 17.3 PPG Scored and your defense averages 18.3 PPG Allowed, you’re a little behind break even. As in 3-4 record behind break-even?

    But that little 1 PPG difference is all it takes to be a 27th-ranked offense and a 6th-ranked defense. You’d think that they would be closer than that, huh. Reality to me Rod is that the Yardage Allowed tells a much better story of what’s going on with the Bucs. Offense is ranked #23 in terms of Total Yardage Gained, while the defense is ranked #25 in Total Yardage Allowed.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    Rod … Bowles has been feverishly (and unsuccessfully) trying to limit the big, explosive plays by using more zone to keep the play in front of guys. Our defense is getting zapped on 3rd down & we’re giving up lots of yardage … until the Red Zone. Then (with no yardage left to give up) the defense stiffens. Bravo. MAYBE they should’ve stiffened earlier?

  34. JD Still Says:

    From what I glean from the statistics , our defense has allowed fewer points than everyone in the NFC with the exception of the Cowboys, everyone else in the East , everyone else in the West, everyone else in the North and everyone else in the South, have allowed more points than our defense, conversely, We have scored less points than anyone else in the conference with the exception of the Giants, everyone else in the East, everyone else in the West, everyone else in the North , and Yes, everyone else in the South, have scored more points than our offense! I don’t believe the defense is our problem.

  35. Hodad Says:

    Dean, and Davis our two highly paid corners need to step it up too. Delaney has more picks then both of them combined, and he hasn’t played since the Saints game!!

  36. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    I judge a team by the eye-test, I look at the scoreboard, lol

  37. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    I’m shocked people don’t point out the reason for shaqs drop off is not playing across from JPP. JPP was a beast. This defense misses him off the edge greatly.

  38. MelvinJunior Says:

    💯 ALL on Bowels… He has White ‘dropping’ back in coverage, or as a ‘spy’ playing centerfield. It’s a JOKE. He needs to be utilized as a RUSHER!!!! I have NO Idea WHY he never has him coming off the edge, Etc. I know he’s prob still really hurt right now, BIT dammm… The dude is an ANIMAL, with 4.4 SPEED!!!! Just NONE of it ever makes any damm sense, with ANYTHING what Bowels does… His ‘Thinking’ overall mindset and strategy, NONE OF IT.

  39. optimisticbucsfan Says:


  40. BucU Says:

    So what you’re saying is the defense sucks almost as bad as the offense. Sounds about right Ira.

  41. power sweep Says:

    Mike S Says:
    “Defense is only giving up 18.3 points per game.
    Why is Ira putting out 1000 word articles on under performing defensive players?”

    Just another head fake article to distract from the failure of the most important position in football.