Buccaneers DE Jason Pierre-Paul Has a Quietly Aggressive Message for the Rest of the NFL: ‘I Don’t Think We Have Given Any Team Our Best Shot Yet’
The Super Bowl honeymoon period is officially over for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While they are still in control of first place in the NFC South and are essentially a lock to make the postseason at year’s end, their recent loss to the Washington Football Team served as a bit of a wake-up call.
Tom Brady threw two interceptions against a Washington defense that has struggled all year long, and Tampa Bay’s own respective defense couldn’t find a way to slow down quarterback Taylor Heinicke of all people. It was an embarrassing loss for the Buccaneers on all accounts.
Jason Pierre-Paul believes the Buccaneers have more to give
When questioned about the Buccaneers’ recent loss to Washington, veteran defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t hold back with his assessment. He believes his team has yet to display their best.
“I don’t think we have given any team our best shot yet,” Pierre-Paul said.
“Defense, offense, special teams. We try to forget we’re the Super Bowl champions, but you’ve got to understand all 31 teams are looking to play their best against us. Even if they’re sorry, there’s no sorry teams in the NFL. Any given Sunday, a team can lose easily.”
“I don’t think we’ve been playing our best ball, but we’re capable of playing our best ball. The whole team’s trying to get into sync, play as one, and once we do that, you’ll see the true Buccaneers come out. Everybody’s going to give us their best shot. I knew that from the get-go. They’ll give us their best shot. We’ve got to figure out a way to them our best shot. Better now than never.”
Tampa Bay’s defense is proving to be the slightly bigger issue
While Brady’s turnovers were the main talking point during the Buccaneers’ loss to WFT, the Bucs’ offense has been one of the best in the NFL this season. They rank first in expected points contributed (115.43), fifth in total points scored (279), and seventh in total yards (3,658). Excusing his shaky performance against Washington, Brady is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in football.
Tampa Bay’s defense, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. Injuries have completely ravaged their secondary. Cornerbacks Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Richard Sherman have all missed multiple games this season.
The Buccaneers’ defense currently ranks 11th in expected points contributed (-37.45). There’s room for improvement there (albeit not much).
The Buccaneers shouldn’t panic
While Pierre-Paul’s comments had a hint of panic to them, the Buccaneers should ultimately feel comfortable about their current state. They rank in the upper half of almost every notable statistic/metric, and Tom Brady is a master at willing his team to the postseason.
It’s also worth pointing out that Tampa Bay stumbled a bit last year around an identical point. They dropped down to 6-5 at one point before rattling off nine straight wins and becoming Super Bowl champions. Seeing as the 2021 Bucs are essentially the same team as the 2020 Bucs, they should be able to replicate such a run of form.
If anything, Pierre-Paul’s message should serve as a warning to the rest of the NFL. The Buccaneers know they can play better, and if history tells us anything, they likely will sooner rather than later.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.