“You are trying to go against the plan. They’ve got a lot of talented players there — they’re not going to change their schedule just because someone else is quarterback,” Bowles said. “I think [49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] does a great job doing things the quarterback is comfortable with – they have great knowledge of the system and they have a wide variety of things they can do to make him feel comfortable.
“He’s got talent to start with, otherwise he wouldn’t be in this league. But they have a lot of talented players around him and he has to deal with a great defense every day in training. He won’t be nervous, he will be play the game – we just have to play ours. It’s not about the quarterback, it’s about all 11 guys on offense.”
Bowles also had some praise for the rookie earlier this week, citing his “moxie” and how dangerous he is as a dual-threat quarterback. Bucs runs game coordinator and defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers spoke on Thursday about how well Purdy handled pressure against the Dolphins last week.
“Without a doubt, and they didn’t just pressure him, they went zero — they did everything they could to get him,” said Rodgers. “They didn’t just call a soft fire zone, they did everything they could to get him, and he just stood there like he’d been there before and knew where to go with the ball – to give his playmakers the That’s what you expected when I saw it – he was under duress, it wasn’t like they were playing some soft zone, they were going to get him with zero and he got the ball to the right people.”
How have Bowles’ Bucs defenses fared against starting quarterbacks?
As soon as it became clear that the Bucs would face a rookie quarterback making his first start in Week 14, a collective groan was probably heard throughout Tampa Bay. Why? Because Bucs fans have been numbed by the team’s previous performance against starting quarterbacks—and backups, for that matter. But how have the Bucs fared against rookies under Bowles specifically?
Tampa Bay’s defense has certainly been better under Bowles than it was in the years (and decade?) prior to his arrival in 2019. Still, the unit’s performance over the years has been a mixed bag when pitted against rookies. Let’s take a look at every newcomer Tampa Bay has seen over the past four seasons:
2019 Week 3: Daniel Jones 23-of-36, 336 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 4 rush, 28 yards, 2 TD (Giants 32, Bucs 31)
2019 Week 10: Kyler Murray 27-of-44, 324 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 3 rush, 38 yards (Bucs 30, Cardinals 27)
2019 Week 13: Gardner Minshew (off the bench) 16-of-27, 147 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (Bucs 28, Jaguars 11)
2019 Week 15: David Blough 24-of-43, 260 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT (Bucs 38, Lions 17)
2020 Week 5: Justin Herbert 20-of-25, 290 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT (Bucs 38, Chargers 31)
2021 Week 4: Mac Jones 31-of-40, 275 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (Bucs 19, Patriots 17)
2021 Week 7: Justin Fields 22-of-32, 184 yards, 3 INT, 8 rush, 38 yards (Bucs 38, Bears 3)
2021 Week 17: Zach Wilson 19-of-33, 234 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT (Bucs 28, Jets 24)
2022 Week 6: Kenny Pickett 11-of-18, 67 yards, 1 TD, 2 rush, 16 yards (Steelers 20, Bucs 18)
The interesting takeaway from that list is that the Bucs are 7-2 against rookie quarterbacks under Bowles, and have won seven of their last eight games against them. But some of those achievements could just as well have led to losses.
Murray and the Cardinals gave Tampa Bay some problems in 2019. Herbert and the Chargers really should have beaten Brady and the Bucs in 2020. Jones and the Patriots were nearly in trouble last year in Brady’s homecoming to Foxboro, while Wilson and the Jets were a missed fourth deficit away from beating Tampa Bay last January.
How has Tampa Bay treated backup quarterbacks under Bowles?
The Bucs have had much less success against backup quarterbacks under Bowles. Of course, as much of a rookie as Purdy, he’s also a third-rate quarterback. Both statuses should give Tampa Bay an edge, but there’s no point in that. Here’s how Tampa Bay has performed against backup signal callers since Bowles arrived in 2019:
2019 Week 5: Teddy Bridgewater 26-of-34, 314 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT (Saints 31, Bucs 24)
2019 Week 6: Kyle Allen 20-of-32, 227 yards, 2 TD (Panthers 37, Bucs 26)
2020 Week 3: Jeff Driskel 17-of-30 176 yards 1 TD 1 INT (Bucs 28, Broncos 10)
2020 Week 16: Chase Daniel 13-of-18, 86 yards; David Blough 6/10, 49 yards, 1 INT (Bucs 47, Lions 7)
2020 Wild Card: Taylor Heinicke 26-of-44, 306 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 6 rush, 46 yards, 1 TD (Bucs 31, WFT 23)
2021 Week 5: Jacoby Brissett 27-of-39, 275 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (Bucs 45, Dolphins 17)
2021 Week 8: Trevor Siemian 16-of-29, 159 yards, 1 TD (Saints 36, Bucs 27)
2021 Week 15: Taysom Hill 13-of-27, 154 yards, 11 rush, 33 yards (Saints 9, Bucs 0)
2022 Week 6: Mitch Trubisky 9-of-12, 144 yards, 1 TD (Steelers 20, Bucs 18)
2022 Week 7: PJ Walker 16-of-22, 177 yards, 2 TD (Panthers 21, Bucs 3)
This is much more of a mix in terms of results. The Bucs have provided some backups and have continued to lose, such as when they stopped Hill and the Saints in week 15 last year only to lose 9-0. But the fact that they are 4-6 against backups under Bowles – with four straight losses – is disturbing. That includes two losses this year, with Trubisky coming in to relieve the injured rookie quarterback in Pickett to lead the Steelers past the Bucs in Week 6 before Walker and the Panthers comfortably beat Tampa Bay the following week.
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