Are the Bucs Okay Without JPP?
“I would think five months, maybe six.” Buccaneers head coach Bucco Bruce Arians stated on Jason Pierre-Paul’s timeline to return to playing for the team. Six months from that quote would be all the way to December 1. The team is more than likely to be missing their top pass rusher for a majority of the season, if not all of it. Obviously, there are ten other players starting on defense. So, how much will this affect the defense?
Pro Football Focus ranked the Bucs overall defense at 30th in 2018
The top players ranked were:
DT Gerald McCoy: 78.6
LB Lavonte David: 77.3
DT Vita Vea: 74.2
EDGE: Carl Nassib: 69.2
S Justin Evans: 67.6
It’s pretty shocking to see some of those names above Jason Pierre-Paul, who finished with a grade of 60.1. I’m not going to say that the team doesn’t need him or all of those players are more talented than JPP. There’s great appreciation for the pass rusher JPP. He broke the curse that seemed like it would last all of eternity when he achieved the double digit sack count.
But how much exactly will the team be hurting without him? There’s a new scheme change on defense, shifting from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. A big reason the New York Giants moved their fan favorite defender. The Giants have recently done some questionable moves so let’s take that with a grain of salt. Although, it is a pretty big change. Perhaps a change that players will thrive in.
With a new acquisition like Ndamukong Suh, his attitude is something the Buccaneers have been lacking for a long time. And veteran defensive end William Gholston had an interesting conversation with the new Buc when Suh was mic’d up at the teams mini-camp.
Gholston: I’m trying to learn from you. I like the way you play.
Suh: All it is, is mentality. Figure out match-ups, couple moves, figure out what his weaknesses are.
All it is, is mentality. Let’s say it is all just mentality. Could Suh be the piece this team has been missing since the Sapp and Brooks era? Being without JPP won’t be easy, but having a grown man like Suh could elevate the play from players like Nassib, Vea, Spence, Barrett and of course, Gholston.
I doubt Suh or Vea will be the ones to get the double digit sack number, so someone will need to step up. Who is it going to be?