Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles addressed the media early on Thanksgiving on a 7:30 a.m. Zoom conference call. Bowles covered a lot of ground, talking about all of the offensive weaponry that this week’s opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, have, in addition to offering his assessment of Bucs defenders like Ross Cockrell, Jason Pierre-Paul, Shaquil Barrett and Sean Murphy-Bunting.

On the challenges of facing a great improvisational quarterback like Kansas City’s Super Bowl-winning, Pro Bowl quarterback Patrick Mahomes
“The biggest thing is we have to stay in coverage when he breaks the pocket, and once the pocket breaks down he starts improvising and those guys start running to open spaces. We’ve got to plaster once he breaks the pocket. That’ll be the biggest thing to concentrate on.”

On the evolution of the quarterback position with mobile quarterbacks like Josh Allen, Kyler Murray and Mahomes
“There are a lot more running quarterbacks today than there used to be. There used to be just a few in terms of the Randall Cunninghams and the Michael Vicks. Now it’s almost every week that you are getting all these running quarterbacks, so that makes it extra hard for a DB because you can’t cover three, four or five seconds anymore. It’s got to be almost seven and eight and you have to turn and plaster receivers more, so that makes the job a little more difficult.”

On Bowles’ assessment of cornerback Ross Cockrell, who filled in for the injured Jamel Dean
“I thought he filled in admirably. He’s where he was supposed to be. He did a good job. He had a couple of tackles, so we were happy with the way he played.”

On the biggest culprit in allowing Rams wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to each have over 100 receiving yards
“We missed a lot of tackles, especially in the first half. Five-yard plays can’t go for 25 or 30 yards. They had a lot of YAC (yards after catch) yards. We’ve got to get them on the ground when they catch the ball. We can’t give them the yards afterwards.”

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

On outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul wanting to stay in the game and play virtually every snap
“He makes a hard case [for playing the entire game], but we still have to give him a breather here and there. We’ve got to protect him from himself, as we do with quite a few players. But you love the effort, and we like where he’s at right now, especially playing the game the way he plays it.”

On defending Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire
“He’s a major problem. He can run inside or outside. He can catch the ball. He can block. Him, with the addition of everybody else they have on offense, you’ve got five guys at a time that you have to take care of. It keeps you honest and you’ve got to play fundamentally sound football. And we’ve got to be able to tackle and get him on the ground.”

On the problems Chiefs Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce presents to a defense
“He’s probably one of the best in the league – if not the best right now. He’s a great blocker. He can line up at wide out and beat you at tight end. He can beat you physically or athletically. That makes it a very hard cover.”

On Pierre-Paul’s interceptions in back-to-back games
“It’s been outstanding to see him make plays like that, and don’t get me wrong, we want him rushing the passer – and he rushes the passer a lot and that’s his main job. But when he can go back in space and come up with plays like that for us, it’s huge.”

On Bowles getting in to work so early every morning, but not earlier than offensive assistant Tom Moore
“I got in about 4:25 a.m., which was probably two hours later than Tom Moore.”

On Mahomes’ ability to beat the blitz
“It’s not just him beating the blitz, it’s him beating three-man, four-man, five-man, six-man – he beats every coverage, so you can’t just say he beats the blitz. He’s a great quarterback – well warranted. That’s why they won the Super Bowl last year. We’ve had a couple great quarterbacks the last few years to face and we have a couple more coming. It will be a good challenge for us. Looking forward to it.”

On Mahomes’ penchant for making unorthodox plays in the passing game, such as throwing across his body to the middle of the field
“It’s a great challenge, obviously he can see things with his eyes that normal people can’t see and do things with his body that normal people can’t do. So we have to try and plaster the receivers and we’ve got to try and take our shots when it’s time to take our shots, but we have to be able to cover and play fundamentally sound football.”

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: USA Today

On outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett’s lack of sack and forced fumble production this year
“Some of it is the ball is coming out quick. He’s getting a lot of pressures, but the ball is just not there. You expect the ball to come out quicker and not everybody sees us and they’re not trying to get their quarterback hit. Sometimes he’s right there and can’t make the play. That’s just the miniscule difference of having a sack and not having a sack. But we’re happy with the pressures. We’re happy with the way he’s playing right now. You’re not going to get [19.5] sacks every year. That would be far-fetched to think that, but he’s hitting the quarterback and knocking them down. He’s just got to continue to keep grinding and his sacks will come.”

On the play of nickel cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting in his second season
“I think he started off very well the first two or three games and then he hit a lull where he was thinking too much. And lately, the last two games, he’s kind of come out of it and gotten back to [being] himself. We look forward to Sean getting better and better.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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5 months ago

Shaq is still a very good DE but he’s not 19 l.5 sacks good. I think Vea in middle created a lot of favorable match ups for him. As far as tackling being biggest issues for Woods and Kupp? Hmmm don’t think so. Yea tackling was shit that game and been trending down last few weeks but biggest issue was Bowls dumbass plan of zone and Woods and Kupp constantly wide open all game. Tackling would help but they were wide open for 25 catches in a dink and dunk game where Rams could not run. That’s is bullshit! Horrible… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by fredster
Reply to  fredster
5 months ago

I agree with you about Bowles’ running that zone defense. The way to beat the short passing game is to get up in the receivers face and attack them and get them off their timing. As far as the rest of your diatribe, I think you are off the mark. For one thing, Shaq is not a DL but a LB. Dean and Bunting have regressed a bit but not big time and they are far from horrible. They are much better playing man coverage in an attacking scheme. Why we have backed out to zone coverage and stayed in… Read more »

5 months ago

SR, u missed the most important question. “Why the hell do you have the secondary playing soft zone coverage and getting killed 3 weeks in a row?”

Reply to  plopes808
5 months ago

Exactly!!! There has to be something to his decision making on the zone coverage that he doesn’t want to talk about. Everyone sees it. C’mon Scott – Bowles and BA should both be put on the spot about the zone coverage scheme.

5 months ago

I hate it when we play the Tampa soft Two zone and play off the line of scrimmage on defense. If we had played man for man last game we could have won it.