The Buccaneers were in dire need of defensive line help this offseason. General manager Jason Licht went out and got plenty of it, with the biggest acquisition coming when he traded for veteran defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
“JPP” was the Giants’ first round pick in 2010 after an impressive collegiate career at USF. In his eight seasons with New York, he put up 308 tackles, 58 sacks, 13 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. That type of production hasn’t been seen around Tampa Bay in quite some time, so his return to the Bay Area is a welcome sight for Buccaneer coaches, players and fans. The ninth-year pro has only been with Tampa Bay since March, but he has already shown what makes him a special player.
At his introductory press conference back in March, Pierre-Paul talked about the 2015 fireworks accident that cost him his index finger and part of his thumb. He noted that overcoming the adversity brought by that accident made him feel “unstoppable.” During Tampa Bay’s first joint practice with the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday, he certainly looked unstoppable:
.@UDWJPP out here signing folks up for skating classes. ⛸#GoBucs pic.twitter.com/2rg7mfN0cB— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 15, 2018
Oh, you know. That’s just Pierre-Paul making Taylor Lewan, the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL, look downright silly. By now, it’s not surprising. But it’s still impressive. Pierre-Paul has been a consistent bright spot for the Bucs throughout the month of August, which is extremely encouraging. As a vet, he could coast through camp and the preseason to save himself for the regular season. But he doesn’t appear to be wired that way. After Wednesday’s practice, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter talked about the work 29-year-old’s work ethic:
“Yeah, very pleasant surprise. I guess wasn’t expecting JPP to be the practice player and the leader that he’s been so far. I’m really fired up about it. Sometimes a guy that’s got his pedigree comes in and is looking for ways out of drills, and that’s not him at all.”
It’s mid-August and Tampa Bay is already seeing why Pierre-Paul is a special player. The Bucs haven’t seen a defensive end like him in a long while and, barring injury, he might be a threat to put up the team’s first season of double-digit sacks since Simeon Rice did it in 2005.
If the Buccaneer fan base isn’t already excited about this guy, it’s time to jump aboard the Jason Pierre-Paul hype train.