How will the Buccaneers look without two of their most important players?
In the modern NFL, there are four positions that stand alone in their importance: quarterback, offensive tackle, corner, and pass-rusher. The good teams have all of these, and a quick look at the Buccaneers roster shows why they are one of the best in the NFL when healthy.
On defense, the importance of having a great pass rush is equal to the need for consistency from the corners, and we all saw how badly the Bucs needed help at corner during a season where every person in the room got hurt.
The Buccaneers have been lucky with their pass rushers after establishing a good trio that can shoulder the workload, but today will be a test of how solid that room is.
Tampa is playing the Jets without Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, and while this is certainly not good, there is a sliver lining.
Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Anthony Nelson have played very well for depth pass rushers, and seeing how they can perform in prominent roles will show the Bucs exactly what they have.
When you add in Cam Gill to the mix, the trio has combined for 8.5 sacks on the season, which is respectable when you see how much Barrett and JPP have played.
The Bucs need their depth to develop, and the best way to do this is in games. Practice can only go so far towards development, and getting a chance to pursue a young quarterback in Zach Wilson will be a great test of what this pass rush can do.
A big day from JTS could move him into a starting role for the playoffs, and Nelson also deserves some legitimate looks as the third guy next season based on how he has done in the number four spot this year.
And, when you consider the fact that Wilson is going to make the ill-advised mistake of trying too hard to extend plays, this young group should get plenty of chances to show what they can do in greater roles down the road.
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