The Weakest Link

June 28th, 2024

No legit edge rusher.

In breaking down the Bucs roster, Joe finds the weakest element to be depressingly obvious.

And Mike Clay of BPSN, a spreadsheeter, sees it. Hell, how could you not? It’s like walking outside on a clear Florida summer day and claiming you can’t see the sun.

That area? It’s edge rusher.

Biggest weakness: Edge rusher. This was a toss-up between edge rusher and interior offensive line, but the departure of Shaquil Barrett (45.0 sacks in five seasons) swung my decision toward the former. Tampa Bay will now turn to a combination of Yaya Diaby, newcomer Randy Gregory, second-round rookie Chris Braswell, former first-rounder Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Anthony Nelson as its core at the position. None of those veterans played more than half of his team’s snaps in 2023. This is a rough situation for a team that finished 22nd in pass rush win rate last season.

Look, Shaq Barrett, as much as Joe loves the guy, didn’t do squat the past two seasons. That’s like saying the Bucs will miss Sneak Vaughn at running back. Lazy research. All Shaq was the past two seasons was a name.

This is a rough situation for a Bucs team much less a team that advanced to the divisional round and hopes to go further. Generally, the longer you go in the playoffs, the better the quarterback play is. Right now, quarterbacks look at the defensive roster of the Bucs and drool like Joe over a steak just off the grill. Quarterbacks know they can too often sit in the pocket against the Bucs, get a plate of Hooters wings from Uber Eats and not have to worry about getting drilled.

Look, Joe hopes YaYa Diaby is that guy. It still concerns Joe his production fell off when he was named the starter — and still he was the Bucs’ leading sacker.

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Joe hopes the light bulb finally comes on.

Chris Braswell, Joe hopes he’s a freak and can get 10 or more sacks as a rookie.

(Don’t get Joe started on MIA Randy Gregory.)

It’s the most important position on defense and yet again, the Bucs are banking on hope.

You know what hope is? Being wheeled into an operating room to have surgery and you hope you wake up. Hope is barreling down I-75 the wrong way and hoping that tractor trailer right in front of you swerves.

Food for thought: Every team that advanced to the conference title games last year had at least one guy with 10 or more sacks.

24 Responses to “The Weakest Link”

  1. CleanHouse Says:

    I like Anthony Nelson. Let him start

  2. CallTheSaltTruck Says:

    >>>Right now quarterbacks look at the defensive roster of the Bucs and drool like Joe over a steak just off the grill when the quarterback knows he can sit in the pocket against the Bucs, get a plate of Hooters wings from Uber Eats and not have to worry about getting drilled.

    Yes, I too would salivate if I knew I was facing the team that ranked *checks notes* tied for 7th in the NFL for sacks (Tied for #1 in the NFC with the NFC champion 49ers).

    I understand Joe wanting a premier edge rusher, but his concerns are massively overblown.

  3. catcard202 Says:

    For me, the big issue with the Bucs “pass rush” is the perception of weakness & the fact that Bowles has to scheme it into existence…(IE…There’s no one that you can count on being “that guy” – each & every week.)

    Licht striking out on JTS & Hall hurts…But “big picture”…Bucs were top10 in creating sacks as a team in 2023.

    If Bowles can dial up 10 guys to get 5 or more sacks a piece…& create double that in pressures/QB hits…Then the Bucs will be fine.

    50 sacks & 100 pressures/QB hits combo should be the season target…However they need to get that production, as long as they get those data points…The pass rush will be adequately positioned to help the Bucs retain the NFC South title.

  4. PowerOfPewter Says:

    Shaq didn’t do squat last year, neither did Devin White. Now they’re gone, and a bunch of hungry young guys are vying to fill those positions. It would be nice to have stud veterans in those spots, but is competition such a bad thing? Can the cream that rises to the top be any more ineffective than the departed? I’d say the Bucs aren’t worse off, get Braswell a bunch of reps and the position may be improved.

  5. Dave Pear Says:

    JTS sucks, had sucked, has sucked, will suck and will have sucked.

  6. Ol' Boy Says:

    No way man. It’s the iol. Too many metrics ranked near the bottom of the league or at the bottom to think otherwise.

  7. MadMax Says:

    You see this Brasswell? lol, man i cant wait!

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    Personally don’t think that sacks are our problem Joe, but pressures are (Pressures being Sacks + QB Knockdowns + Hurries). Bucs have been fairly consistent in terms of ‘Sack rate’ (Sacks divided by Total Pass Attempts) during Todd Bowles’ tenure as DC, but our ‘Pressure rate’ has fallen way off.

    o 2023 … Opponents Plays: 1081 – Passes: 611 – Sacks: 48 – Total Pass Attempts: 659 – Sack rate: 7.28% – Pressures: 136 – Pressure Rate: 20.64%

    o 2022 … Opponents Plays: 1073 – Passes: 570 – Sacks: 44 – Total Pass Attempts: 614 – Sack rate: 7.17% – Pressures: 144 – Pressure Rate: 23.45%

    o 2021 … Opponents Plays: 1093 – Passes: 680 – Sacks: 47 – Total Pass Attempts: 727 – Sack rate: 6.46% – Pressures: 224 – Pressure Rate: 30.81%

    o 2020 … Opponents Plays: 1023 – Passes: 617 – Sacks: 48 – Total Pass Attempts: 665 – Sack rate: 7.22% – Pressures: 193 – Pressure Rate: 29.02%

    o 2019 … Opponents Plays: 1073 – Passes: 664 – Sacks: 47 – Total Pass Attempts: 711 – Sack rate: 6.61% – Pressures: 186 – Pressure Rate: 26.16%

    During Bowles’ 5 years here, sacks have remained in a relatively narrow range (47-48-47-44-48), but pressures have fallen off a bunch since Suh & JPP left (186-193-224-144-136). Last year we actually had the highest Sack Rate (7.28%) of the past 5 years, but the lowest Pressure Rate (20.64%) by far. We’re obviously not CONSISTENTLY impacting opposing QBs ability to do his job.

  9. teacherman1983 Says:

    Shaq set the edge. He played hard against the run. He was a team leader.

    Shaq Barrett was not just a name! How dare you!

    You aren’t a Bucs fan bro.

    If you were a real Bucs fan, you would know that Shaq is one of the best Buccaneers of all time.

    Without him? No Super Bowl!

    Put some RESPECT on his name.

    Hainsey? Not a name. The worst center in Bucs history.

  10. heyjude Says:

    In agreement with Joe, but am staying optimistic too. Thinking this will be YaYa’s breakout year at 25 years old. I am still feeling bad we didn’t get Jared Verse. But that is water under the bridge now.

  11. dmatt Says:

    Hope is when we finally realize for JTS, three years of anticipation and the light bulb did not come on soon, has not come on later, and DANG it, will not finally come on at all. If he talks like a duck, walks like a duck, n quacks like a duck, then it’s a dud, my bad, duck. We know what they say about insanity.Thanks.
    I rest my case.

  12. Beeej Says:

    Bucs get a decent amount of sacks, owing to the endless blitzes. But we DON’T get many pressures, hence the corners laying 10 yards off

  13. WilieG Says:

    It seems to me that in a league geared to stop traditional rushers (DEs and OLBs), the innovative defensive coordinator might think it’s a better idea to generate pressure using non-traditional rushers (DBs and ILBs) more often.

  14. Dude Says:

    Sum of the parts > one guy with two handfuls of sacks.

    Give Markees Watts Randy Gregorys’ roster spot.

    Nelly is underappreciated, partly because you can’t look at the stat sheet and see “sack” filled up but he’s probably the most rounded player in that room. Can set the edge, diverts runs from his side and has shown he can collapse the pocket. Nelly, also has the human equivalent of a toyota motor.

    Year 2 Yaya looks like a kaiju

    Just as excited to see Watts as I am to see Braswell.

    Curious about what we have in Jose Ramierez as well.

  15. Allen Lofton Says:

    Ya Ya hit the Rookie Wall in the second half of the season. If that’s the case, we could see Ya Ya reach 10 sacks this year.

    The Bucs have the talent to get the sacks with just the front-line contribution.

    Go Bucs!!!

  16. bucnjim Says:

    When you are rebuilding you can only fix one or two things at a time. Especially if there is a lack of talent at a certain position (DE) The Bucs did a great job of bringing in (hopefully) more talented offensive lineman, Safety, CB and possibly even RB.

  17. JimBobBuc Says:

    Joe was right, we should have picked up Reddick so he can sit out practices like Gregory. I would rather have an interior pass rush in QB’s faces. The divisional QB’s like Cousins wouldn’t like VV or Kancey in their face. I think Bowles will put Tykee in a box/slot position and blitz him periodically.

    The Bucs were last in the NFL in TE yards and catches. Bowles needs to find someone to stop that – Tykee????

  18. ballwasher61 Says:

    When Aaron Donald was playing did the O coordinator worry about the edge rusher? Best pressure is always up the middle, it’s the straightest, quickest way to the QB, that’s why stunts with the outside rusher stunting to the inside is so good, IOL can’t move that fast. Not saying we don’t want & need the edges consistency but I believe with Vea slimmed down and quicker next to a year older Kancey is going to pay big dividends, as long as everyone stays relatively healthy.

  19. Craig Says:

    Shaq wasn’t put into a position to get big numbers. He spent too much time cleaning up after Devin left something on the field.

  20. Booger Says:

    I’m not worried. Kancey is going to dominate and opponents are not going to know what to do because you have Vea there, too. They’re going to have their hands full with trying to handle them all day, then YaYa, Bras, JTS, Smith, Whitehead, & JUNIOR are coming flying in at the QB and taking his head off!!!! It’s going to be a BIG problem for opposing teams.

  21. Ed McSherry Says:

    Ya! The cornerbacks. (+ Bowles’ “pull-back & disappear” pass-defense “philosophy.”)

    Just concentrating on sacks for defense-fixes is like just concentrating on the “deep ball” for offense-fixes.

    Pressuring the Lions’ and Eagles’ quarterbacks was missing last year (for example), and the #1 problem, imo. McCollum and some interesting options for the other side this year can be the key to it.

    Plus, hopefully, the new O.C. will influence Bowles’ to have a “win first, ass-cover later” overall-philosophy.

  22. Not My NFL! Says:

    @PowerofPewter You say “a bunch of hungry young guys” and that my friend is what we here in Buc Land like to term as “YOUNGRY” sincerely Raheem Morris.

  23. Wild Bill Says:

    Ohh noes. Joe is having a whiny day! My gut says some of the new guys are gonna fill the gap that Shaq and JTSnooze have been.

  24. anyhony Says:

    I have to go through the roster to figure out who some of you guys are talking about. Everyone here has their own nicknames and abbreviations for players, take your time and spell it out for the sake of some of us old dudes!