Buccaneers have fixed their pass rush problem with blitzes

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are manufacturing their pass rush with blitzes, and it's working.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead the league with nine sacks. Yes, you read that right. They lead the league. In sacks. That is not a typo. For years on end the Bucs have struggled to get to the quarterback, notching just 27 sacks last year and not topping 30 in a season since 2007. But this year, the Buccaneers are getting to the quarterback - a lot.

They're not doing it with a regular pass rush, though. As in previous years, their defensive linemen are struggling to get to the quarterback -- aside from Gerald McCoy, who's blowing people up. Adrian Clayborn has yet to make an impact rushing the passer after returning from a knee injury and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Da'Quan Bowers aren't even getting opposing linemen's jerseys dirty. The stunts don't help, but no one aside from McCoy  has shown that they can do much when allowed to just rush this year. The Bucs may have nine sacks, but just two of them come from the defensive line.

Blitzes are how the Bucs are getting to the quarterback. As you may recall, the Bucs were extremely blitz-happy last year, but not very effective with their blitzes. Not so this year: the addition of Johnthan Banks, Dashon Goldson and above all Darrelle Revis has given the blitzes some time to develop without leaving gaping holes in coverage -- and the results have been great so far. The Bucs are on pace to notch 72 sacks, which would shatter the team record of 55 set in 2000.

Sacks are good, but are the Bucs affecting the passer on other plays? It appears so. Greg Bedard and Andy Benoit of The MMQB have devised their own way of tracking pass rushing productivity, and through two weeks they have the Buccaneers ninth in the league overall, with pressure on 33.2% of all snaps - just two percentage points below number two Seattle (tied with New Orleans). They also have Gerald McCoy listed as the second most productive interior pass rusher, behind Ndamukong Suh.

We're just two weeks into the season, but the Buccaneers are affecting quarterbacks at a much higher rate than they were last year. And this time, they're actually getting sacks rather than just pressures, and coupling it with a good pass defense.

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