Buccaneers: Lack of pass-rush officially a problem
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a handful of issues to address. However, the lack of a pass-rush is currently at the top of the list for the Buccaneers.
Let’s get this out of the way now. Yes, the Bucs’ secondary is an absolute mess. The mountain of injuries aside, the group was already the “weak” spot of the defense from a talent perspective if you were forced to pick a phase of the unit to call that. However, the lack of a pass-rush the front seven has shown so far in 2021 is a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed and given proper attention.
A short while ago, we wrote about how the pass-rush of the Buccaneers would be the key to them sustaining success and overcoming the battered secondary. Thus far, it’s been proven correct. Since the playoff run, the consistent pressure being brought by the front seven was the bread and butter of the Bucs’ defense, and the team won a Super Bowl on the backs of it. Thus far in 2021, that very same pressure has been non-existent. In fact, finding an appropriate image for the header of this article proved to be pretty difficult, that’s how invisible the front-seven has been.
Vita Vea has picked up where he’s left off, creating pressure up the middle pretty much by himself. It’s gotten to the point where he’s essentially being held on every play, but this isn’t sour grapes when it comes to officiating. Complaining about that is bush-league when players need to take accountability.
Yes, Jason Pierre-Paul has been banged up and missed Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams, but that isn’t a cop-out. Statistically speaking, Shaquil Barrett has been the best pass-rusher in the NFL since coming to Tampa Bay, so where is he? Elsewhere, rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka was thought to be a world-beater and a Draft Day steal, but thus far has experienced a bit of a wake-up call. At least he gets the benefit of the doubt since he’s a rookie, for now. Rakeem Nunez-Roches has shown flashes, as has William Gholston, who had the Buccaneer’s lone sack on Sunday, but the middle of the defensive line can’t be the only ones bringing any sort of heat, especially the ones who have the perception of being the second fiddles of the group.
At the end of the day, no matter how good your secondary is, defensive backs can’t cover receivers forever. You need to bring pressure. Matthew Stafford had time to hitchhike back to Detroit and back to L.A. on Sunday, and that has to change.
Todd Bowles and company have their work cut out for them, but luckily there is still a lot of pigskin to be played. The team has to improve, and that includes the defense. The season is far from over, but if there’s one facet of the game the Buccaneers need to improve on first and foremost, it is the pass-rush, because right now it is a legitimate problem.