Earlier in the week, inside linebacker Devin White told the media he told his defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, to 'unleash' him on quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
At the time, it seemed that the statement was nothing more than a way to get hyped up coming off a forgettable game against the Bears in Chicago. White is a captain. He's a leader. He has to be the one to keep up the defensive energy and intensity.
Turns out, White meant it and Bowles listened. After having taken just three sacks in the four games he played leading up to Tampa Bay, Rodgers was sacked four times in Sunday's game alone. One of them by White, which we'll get to later. And though Rodgers had some early success in the first quarter, he was forced to contend with White immediately.
By the end of the day, White amassed 10 combined tackles, a sack, three total tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. Let's take a closer look.
1st & 10 @ GB 25
White made sure we all knew he had been let off the leash in the very first play of the game. Here, the Packers are in 12 personnel, and split the two tight ends by having Marcedes Lewis motion pre-snap to the other side of the formation. Rodgers has running back Aaron Jones behind him and the Bucs are in their base package with defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches shaded in the one-technique toward the open side, filling in for Vita Vea. White is over Nuñez-Roches' left shoulder and is head-up over the center, spying the running back.
The play shifts to the open side with Jones taking off on a handoff trying to get outside but White takes a short cut he finds between offensive linemen and instead, meets Jones before he can gain any positive yardage and takes him down. Hard.
1st & 10 @ GB 25
This play to me just shows White's toughness. The Bucs open the second half again in their base formation, while the Packers are in 12 personnel though tight end John Lovett is acting as a fullback with Jones right behind him. White is again looking at Jones as he's lined up to the outside of Will Gholston's left shoulder looking through the closed-side B gap.
He takes off immediately through what was the C-gap but Lovett is there to try to head him off and allow Jones to get to the outside but White refuses to let him. He manhandles Lovett, tossing him to the side and makes the tackle on Jones from behind, mitigating the gain.
2nd & 13 @ GB 22
White had two total tackles for loss on the day and this one that came at the end of the third quarter immediately followed a three-yard tackle for loss by Lavonte David that got Green Bay behind the chains. Remember: those two were everywhere.
Pressure came quick on Rodgers by Will Gholston, who ended up with a quarterback hit on this play, forcing Rodgers to bail out to Jones. The fact that White dropped Jones for a loss of one is made even more impressive when you consider his responsibility was to drop into that middle hole. So he drops back in coverage before reading the screen and he's so fast that he gets ahead of a blocking offensive lineman to get into the backfield. Credit defensive tackle Rakeem Nuñez-Roches too, who takes away the outside path for Jones, forcing him to cut back in and meet White instead. White then wraps him up before the line of gain and the Packers are faced with a third-and-14 situation which they would not convert (White made the tackle on that play, too).
3rd and 6 @ GB 45
And after weeks of almost getting home, finally White does in the fourth quarter and it's the nail in the coffin on Rodgers' game. It was also one of three third-down sacks the Bucs had on the day. Packers are in 11 personnel and down 28 points with just over five minutes to play in the game. They had made it almost to midfield at this point with Rodgers still in trying to at least cut into the Bucs' four (holds fingers up) touchdown lead. Instead the Bucs are in a three-down front with Jeremiah Ledbetter head up on the center at nose tackle. Suh is in the seven-tech, shaded just inside the tight end while JPP has his hand in the dirt at the five position with Barrett standing up on the outside to the same side.
White is staring down running back Jamaal Williams but once the ball is snapped, opts to cut inside. Ledbetter does an excellent job taking up two blockers while David has Williams who is in on pass protection, which leaves a hole for White to get straight to Rodgers unblocked. It was a loss of 11 and Rodgers would not return on the next series. Game. Set. Match.