Buccaneers vs. Washington: First playoff preview since 2007
By Rob Leeds
Washington’s defensive line
Given the way the media covers this game, one would think that the Buccaneers are heavy underdogs. Almost every news cycle outside of Tampa Bay revolves around the “greatest pass rush the NFL has ever seen.” The only issue is that people might get carried away in their own hyperboles.
Chase Young is an outstanding pass-rusher. There is no doubt that he was the best defensive player to come out of the 2020 draft class, but placing him in the transcendent category at this point in his career feels rushed.
The rest of the defensive line is exceptionally talented as well. Players like Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, and Jonathan Allen will be difficult for the Buccaneers to handle, but this is far from impossible.
With how this story has been presented, you’d think that Washington has an actual bull on their defensive line to wreak havoc on the Buccaneer offense. Unfortunately for those hoping for an upset, this imaginary bull is actually a lot more comparable to the Atlanta Falcons’ pass rush that the Buccaneers overcame twice in three weeks.
According to ESPN’s pass-rushing analytics, the WFT has the third-best pass rush win rate in the NFL at 50%. While this is impressive at face value, the Atlanta Falcons and the Buccaneers tie for fourth place at 49%.
So, just so that we can understand it, Tom Brady and Bruce Arians need to pull their hair out worrying about this pass-rush when it is only one percent better than a team that they have dismantled on offense twice in this past month? This is a very reductive way of looking at it, but this is the world we live in.
In the two games against one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, Tom Brady averaged 395 yards per game, three touchdowns per game, less than one interception, and a passer rating of 114.1 (well above his season average).
Even with the high rate of pass rush wins, the Falcons still only averaged two sacks a game against Brady, which did little to slow him down. The WFT defensive line will have to play its best game of the season against one of the best offensive lines they have faced to keep the game close, and even then, the odds are incredibly long.