Like Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn as Howard Hughes in The Aviator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are finding themselves staring into the mirror muttering to themselves about ‘the way of the future’.
Specifically, what is it going to look like?
As the Bucs begin mandatory minicamp this week, one of the biggest questions we’re all asking ourselves is which players are going to step up and make an impact as the team charts a new future? Without Tom Brady, the Buccaneers are once again fading into the background in terms of national interest, but that hasn’t stopped the coaching staff from believing the team can compete.
If that’s going to be the case, more than just the page will need to be turned on the last three years. There will need to be a turnover of talent, and the rise of young players who can fill in for those the Bucs have lost now that the Brady Era is over.
Without Brady and his spotlight, though, it seems like a lot of people are misreading the Buccaneers and their fortunes.
PFF makes surprising choice for Buccaneers X-Factor in 2023
PFF listed the biggest X-Factor for each team and named edge rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka for the Buccaneers.
"Tryon-Shoyinka has been in the rotation during his first two years, but the Bucs need their 2021 first-rounder to be a stud. He has just nine sacks thus far in his NFL career to go with a 60.7 pass-rush grade. A big improvement from Tryon-Shoyinka and the pass rush would be an important step forward for the team."- Pro Football Focus
This is a bit of a surprise choice, but not an unwelcome one. It fits with the narrative heading into training camp that this might be a make-or-break season for Tryon-Shoyinka, who has yet to fully breakout for the Bucs.
Despite his struggles since being drafted, there’s still reason to believe that he can morph into the edge rusher the Bucs thought the were getting back in 2021. Still, even at the time not many people seemed to be high on Tryon-Shoyinka and he hasn’t done much to prove any of the doubters wrong. The average draft grade for the Bucs back in 2021 was a C+, while PFF went as far as to grade the pick ‘Poor’ and bury Tryon-Shoyinka in its breakdown of the pick.
All of that is to say, we’re hoping for the best with this season but if Joe Tryon-Shoyinka is the Bucs X-Factor this season, something went horribly wrong.
Tryon-Shoyinka isn’t even the biggest X-Factor candidate at his own position, let alone on the team as a whole. He shares a linebacker room with Lavonte David, Devin White, and Shaq Barrett — all of whom are higher impact players. If we’re talking X-Factor out of that group, the Bucs need it to be Barrett who is coming back from an injury-shortened season last year and needs to be the force he was two years ago.
Even at LOLB, it’s worth circling rookie YaYa Diaby’s name as a potential X-Factor. He probably won’t beat Tryon-Shoyinka out for the starting job, but there’s an outside chance it could happen. Zooming out further, other X-Factor candidates include Baker Mayfield, MIke Evans, and if we’re talking upside then Rachaad White needs to be mentioned as well.
Nobody is rooting against Tryon-Shoyinka, especially in the face of all the criticism he’s been subjected to since arriving in Tampa Bay. There’s no doubt the Bucs need him to step up and contribute in ways he hasn’t yet done, but if he’s the X-Factor this year then something’s not right.
Of course, we’d love to be wrong.