-Ronald Jones gets the angry scepter on Good Morning Football for a big boy run in the second quarter on third down where he took the pile with him. It was an all-out effort from the line and even blocking tight end Rob Gronkowski to get Jones to the five yard line after initially looking to be stopped right at the line of scrimmage. I'd explain it more but I really think you should Kyle Brandt and this video do it instead.
-The defense is working together on all levels to make turnovers and sacks happen. It's all about complementing each other, and that's with an 'e.' The front seven, who was kept intact after registering the best run defense in 2019, has continued their dominance against the run and has also turned up the heat on opposing quarterbacks. They're helped by the back end of the defense that may still be young, but now has a full year in this system together under their belts. What you're seeing now is all levels working together to shut down opposing offenses in all phases – especially in the pass rush given that the Bucs' defense already has 12.0 sacks on the season.
"It helps a bunch," said second-year safety Mike Edwards of the impact the front seven has on his unit. "The rush complements the coverage and the coverage complements the rush. I just feel like we have one of the best rushes in football. Our pass rushers are crazy. Us in the back end, we know they're going to get to the quarterback real soon, especially when we have a blitz on there. It definitely helps us, so we don't have to cover that long, and the ball is coming out really fast. It definitely helps us and we're trying to complement them, too, so they can get more sacks. If we can get the quarterback to hold the ball, they get a lot of sacks and get a lot of pass rush."
Another tactic that is crucial to the defensive success is creating confusion. Those 12.0 sacks have come from all levels of the defense. The six takeaways on the year have also come from a variety of players. What that tells opposing offenses it that they need to be weary of everyone. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles spends massive amounts of time divising schemes that give every player a chance to make a play. Seriously. Every player.
"I think it's a big part, especially playing defense," outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul says of the confusion this defense imparts on opponents. "Todd Bowles does a great job of getting everybody a piece of the ball – see the ball and go get it. I just think guys just trust him. We trust the plays that he's going to call [and] he's going to get us what we need to get. So far, he's getting us one step closer to where we need to get."
And how does he do that?
"I think Coach Bowles is a defensive guru – he dials it up extremely well," said rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who has perhaps benefitted from Bowles' fluid scheme most. "For us to be successful, we have to have that play-calling that he provides – which has been amazing so far. Being able to use us in so many different ways because our defense is so versatile – we have pretty much everything in a defense. For him to just dial things up, it's just been a great look for us and it will be our success this year – just making sure that we're making plays out there on the field."
Defensive players are also being complementary in other phases of the ball. Defensive lineman Pat O'Connor blocked a punt on the Broncos' first possession of the game that set up a quick touchdown from the 10-yard line and early lead in Denver for the Bucs.
"We knew that they were a big fake [punt] team from the minus 40 [yard line] to the plus 50, and they were sitting right on the edge there, so we wanted to put an eight-box return out there so we had the eligibles covered, but I also didn't want them sitting back there and being able to throw the ball," said Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong. "The majority of their fakes, as went through the week, were all passes – typically they're runs. We were sitting there saying, 'Let's take Pat and put him on the snapper.' Then every return Pat was forcing up the middle. Long story short, we went into an eight-box return. We had their slots covered. They were both tight ends, so we knew we had to put some coverage people in there. We had Ryan Smith covering the PP (punter's protector) inside, so we said, 'Pat, you're going to be one on one.' Sure enough, he ripped straight up the field and then got the block. I was so happy for him. I would have loved for one of our guys off the edge to scoop and score, but you get greedy. It was a nice play [that was] well executed by him. [It brought] great energy and really got the guys going."
Bucs Tweet of the Day: