Bucs' pass rush comes off life support for a night
They had been called out by their own head coach for a sack total more grim than a Bill Belichick stare. Entering Sunday night's showdown against the Patriots, the Bucs had three sacks in as many games. In spurts, they had been disruptive, but that wasn't sufficient. While getting a quarterback off his rhythm is nice, getting him off his feet is the objective.

"Most definitely," rookie edge rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka said, when asked if his unit felt challenged by coach Bruce Arians.

On Sunday, as showers drenched the Gillette Stadium field, the sight of a rookie pocket passer represented the real perfect storm for Tryon-Shoyinka and his peers. Tampa Bay finished with four sacks, including two by the 2021 first-round pick from Washington, in the 19-17 victory.

While Patriots rookie Mac Jones showed proficiency and pluck to an NBC audience (31-of-40, 275 passing yards), most of his damage was wielded with short, quick throws prompted by relentless pressure dialed up by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

It also enabled an injury-depleted secondary to keep things mostly in front of it. "Can't say enough about the secondary stepping up," Arians said. "The pass rush was really good."

It especially shined on New England's second possession of the third quarter. On second and 6 from the Patriots 27, veteran William Gholston sacked Jones for a 6-yard loss. On third down, with Jones in the shotgun, Tryon came through with his second of the night, on a huge assist from nose tackle Vita Vea. "He took down the guard and the tackle," Tryon-Shoyinka said. "That's Vita's sack for real."

The Patriots were forced to punt, and the Bucs responded with an eight-play drive ending with a Ronald Jones 8-yard touchdown run. "Coach Bowles got back to being really aggressive," inside linebacker Devin White said. "So when he's aggressive we can do a lot of good things."

On this night, the storm of aggressiveness rarely subsided. "We knew (Jones) wasn't a very mobile quarterback," Tryon-Shoyinka said. "He likes to stay in the pocket with the ball, (take) second and third options, so we knew it was going to be our task, the whole d-line, to just get after him, get him off his spot. I thought we did a pretty good job of that."

Joey Knight, The Tampa Times, published 4 October 2021