Zo huddle
Photo Credit: KMBC

FSM Presents: Zo Huddle – The Biggest Defensive Threats To The Defending Champs

Franchise Sports Media

 

 

For Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs offense, the biggest on-field threat they’ll face isn’t Tom Brady, Mike Evans or Rob Gronkowski. Rather, the Zo Huddle believes there are six Buccaneers defensive threats the defending champs will need to account for in order to claim the franchise’s first-ever back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

 

I’m a guy who gets glued to individual field matchups. I avoid hyping up Patrick Mahomes versus Tom Brady through stories like so many other people because they won’t tackle each other (unless the Kansas City Chiefs have a secret blitz scheme designed for Mahomes to attack Brady, which I doubt will happen this Sunday).

But I have reason to believe there are six Tampa Bay Buccaneer defenders who pose as the biggest threat in slowing down this high-octane Chiefs offense.

From the trenches to the secondary, Zo Huddle unveils the six Buccaneers defenders who could alter the outcome of Super Bowl LV and potentially help prevent a Chiefs’ repeat.

 

JASON PIERRE-PAUL

What to watch for: JPP shading over reserve left tackle Mike Remmers

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Bucs Nation

Pierre-Paul wrecked the edge protection of the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, collecting two sacks against one of the best units at pass protection.

Now, JPP is going to line up against a backup left tackle…admitting to reporters he didn’t know who he was.

Well, Remmers has been in a Super Bowl before. However, he was responsible for Von Miller five years ago in Super Bowl 50. We all saw how that went for the former Carolina Panther Remmers and his team. Miller ended up with Most Valuable Player honors while Remmers likely had to issue an apology to Cam Newton for all the sacks he surrendered.

Even at 32, JPP still has a quick first step. That snap quickness allows him to bully single blockers into the quarterback and complete the sack. He’s additionally developed a strong rip move to slip past blockers over the years.

Remmers can learn from the mistakes Billy Turner of the Packers made when he was responsible for blocking JPP: Avoid coming up too high and lunging at him. JPP took advantage of the Packer left tackle’s miscues by using the club-and-rip move and a straight bull rush to get both of his sacks of Rodgers. Remmers must sink his hips, keep a strong base and take a swipe at JPP’s club attempt (he attacks with his right arm) to have an advantage.

But along with JPP, he’s going to be responsible for containing two defenders with 130.5 career sacks combined.

 

SHAQ BARRETT

What to watch for: Attacking from both angles

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: NFL

Of all the Chiefs personnel to test, best believe Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is most likely going to send the most pressure Remmers’ way…and determine if he’ll have a repeat of his SB 50 performance.

That also means lining up Barrett – who has 41.5 career sacks – over Remmers.

Barrett snatched Rodgers for three sacks in the NFC title game. And, in the previous meeting against the Chiefs, Barrett delivered two quarterback hits of Mahomes and got one sack by beating the Chiefs’ starter Eric Fisher.

Barrett is one of the more quicker edge defenders in the game who often relies on an outside jab step and his explosive first step to beat blockers. He’s equally strong at bending at the point of attack and still pumping his legs to get to the QB. But Barrett has developed an array of moves at his disposal – from the rip move to a straight bull rush to a spin move. Honestly, he looks faster than Von.

Kansas City may consider having tight end Travis Kelce assist Remmers as someone who can bump Barrett and JPP at the line in passing situations before going out for a pass. The benefit is potentially disrupting Barrett and JPP’s first step and force them to readjust. The downside with that tactic, though, is that Kelce could get tangled up and have his own route disrupted.

With his explosive edge quickness and an array of pass-rushing moves, Barrett is one of the harder blocking assignments in the NFL. And along with attacking the blindside, TB plugs over the TE or strong side to wreak havoc.

One benefit Barrett and Pierre-Paul have heading into Sunday is this healthy trench behemoth…

 

VITA VEA

What to watch for: Double teams on passing plays

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: TampaBay.com

Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea, better known as Vita Vea, is the Bucs’ defense biggest X-Factor.

Yes, he has eight different names including surname. But he plays as if he needs eight different guys to slow up the 6-foot-4, 347-pound weapon of mass obstruction.

Vea is one of the more powerful defenders at the point of attack. He first showed NFL teams his upper body prowess by pushing 225-pounds on the bench press 41 times at the NFL Scouting Combine.

He most recently plugged the gap in front of Green Bay’s best linemen Corey Linsley and Elgton Jenkins for JPP’s first sack. He even threw 313-pound Lucas Patrick on his back after Patrick’s hands were grabbing the back of Vea’s jersey.

What I’ve discovered: It’s clear that the Buccaneers dare opposing offenses to double Vea on passing situations – knowing he can free up either Barrett or JPP or also Ndamukong Suh, who still commands attention for an 11-year vet.

Vea was not in action for the 27-24 loss to KC during the regular season. While the Bucs bottled the Chiefs’ running game to 87 yards that evening, KC still carved up the Bucs’ pass defense with 456 yards due to a lack of a pass rush. I also noticed the impact Vea’s absence had on fellow defensive tackle Suh. The veteran – who will be playing in his second Super Bowl since 2019 – may have drawn one-on-one’s against Andrew Wylie, but Wylie still got the better of that matchup off-hand extension plus a lack of penetration from Rakeem Nunez-Roches (who moved to DT that game) and William Gholston lining up next to Suh. The latter was also seen getting blown up at the line of scrimmage by Fisher at the 13:45 mark of the first quarter. Long story short, Nunez-Roches and Gholston didn’t provide the necessary push to free up Suh the way Vea does.

Vea is not only strong enough to take on double teams but has the lower body quickness and strength to push back the dual blocks – which gives his defenders enough of a gap to knife through or enough of a chance to beat their one-on-one blocks.

In the NFC championship game, Vea’s attention on the line helped contribute to five sacks between the edge rushers. I would keep a close eye on how the KC line counters Vea, especially on passing downs.

 

DEVIN WHITE

What to watch for: Controlling the middle

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: YardBarker

On an athletic and experienced linebacker unit, it’s the 22-year-old White who is being lauded as the Bucs’ most important – and arguably most athletic – LB.

He’s the one responsible for making sure running backs don’t blow past the Bucs’ front seven. He’ll signal where the ball is going and shout the communication to the other Bucs’ defenders. And he has a streak of four straight games played of reaching double digit tackles.

A stat to pass along: Including playoff games, the Bucs are 4-0 when White gets 10 solo tackles or more. He recently turned his game up a notch in the last two playoff games: Reading an Alvin Kamara streak route and cutting in front for the late interception against Drew Brees and snatching 15 tackles and one fumble recovery in the NFC Championship game.

White is one of the fastest linebackers in the game with a reported 40-yard dash time of 4.42. That speed gets him to zip past gaps without being touched by offensive guards and blow up the running back.

He has been fooled by misdirection plays before, though, because of how overly aggressive he is with his speed. And the Chiefs are known for throwing the misdirection schemes on teams. Eye discipline will be huge for the standout from LSU.

 

LAVONTE DAVID

What to look for: Blitzing and sticking with the All-Pro tight end

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Bucs Nation

It’s looking like David will be tasked with shadowing Kelce.

Not an easy assignment. However, David did accomplish two things going against Kelce and the Chiefs in the previous regular-season meeting: Collecting six solo tackles and getting the Bucs to become one of just five opposing defenses to prevent the All-Pro TE from crossing the goal line in 2020, despite the loss to KC.

White’s game is run-stuffing (though he has the athleticism to drop back into coverage). David is additionally a run-stopping threat but has shown his best work in reading pass plays. Example: The moment he sees multiple linemen charging toward him, he immediately identifies the play as a screen pass to a running back and makes a beeline toward that forming wall of protection – resulting in the potential 20-yard gain getting blown up in front of the offense by crashing into the RB.

Much like White, David is quick enough to slip through gaps and deliver the knockout tackle. The Bucs also trust him to join JPP and Barrett in bringing the outside heat on a blitz (see the regular season 38-10 win over the Packers as proof).

While White calls the signals, it’s David who shows the highest football intellect. The three pounds above his eyes and inside his head will come in handy against a Chiefs team that loves throwing unorthodox looks on defenses.

 

SEAN MURPHY-BUNTING

What to watch for: Lining up at the slot cornerback spot

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times

Of the 21 targets Murphy-Bunting has seen in the playoffs, 14 have resulted in receptions according to Pro Football Focus.

But SMB has flipped a switch the last three games…swooping up three interceptions in all three playoff contests.

The pick in the Washington game was off a deflection. But the last two came with SMB in man coverage. Sure, there was some hand checking and cloth grabbing on the GB pick, but no penalty was called.

Maybe, given SMB’s nature of extending his hands and clutching his fingers on an opposing receiver’s jersey, the Chiefs may force him into defensive holding or pass interference calls. But when you’re someone with three straight playoff games with an INT, you’ve become someone Andy Reid, Eric Bienemy, and Mahomes will account for at all times on the field.

Murphy-Bunting is likely to be given Mecole Hardman in the slot. But, perhaps he, not Carlton Davis III, gets asked to cover Tyreek Hill given Hill’s previous dominance of Davis.

 

Super Bowl LV will be aired on CBS. Pregame festivities start at 11 a.m PT (2 p.m on the east coast) with official kickoff set for 3 p.m PT (6 p.m. ET).

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Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: @LJ_Reyna

 

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