The interior O-line has been overhauled after Ali Marpet retired, Alex Cappa signed with the Bengals and Ryan Jensen was placed on injured reserve with a serious knee injury. Outside of Brady's former teammate Shaq Mason, the likely replacements include Robert Hainsey and Luke Goedeke, recent draft picks with zero career starts under their belt.
Buccaneers Week 1 starting O-line in 2021-22 seasons
|C||Ryan Jensen||Robert Hainsey |
That's a nearly unprecedented shakeup for Brady. Excluding his move from New England to Tampa Bay, this would be the second time in his 22-year career he has had three different starters on the interior O-line from one season opener to another. It also happened in 2015 when Brady had a new group on the inside with Josh Kline, David Andrews and Tre' Jackson. He was pressured on 35% of his dropbacks that season, his highest on record, including a whopping 30 times in the Patriots' AFC Championship loss to the Broncos.
Anything close to that this year would be a major shift for Brady as the Buccaneers led the NFL in PFF's OL pass-blocking efficiency metric last season, which measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis weighted toward sacks allowed. Offensive line continuity has also been an integral part of the Buccaneers' success with Brady. Their regular group played nearly 1,000 more snaps than any other five-man combo in the league over the last two seasons.
Pick Six Newsletter
Crafted By The Best NFL Experts
Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Most snaps by OL combo: 2020-21 seasons
- Buccaneers: Smith/Marpet/Jensen/Cappa/Wirfs (1,728)
- Falcons: Matthews/Mayfield/Hennessy/Lindstrom/McGary (821)
- Browns: Wills/Bitonio/Tretter/Teller/Conklin (792)
While this new Bucs group has been an easy target, it's also provided bulletin-board material for Brady and Co., Still, the extra hits for a 45-year-old QB who dropped back a league-high 749 times last year warrants some concern. Not to mention, the blueprint from experts on how to beat Brady usually involves the phrase "pressure him up the middle" or "get him off his spot."
Traditionally, pressure has made Brady look like a mere mortal, even if it does not come often. He has been pressured at the second-lowest rate in the league in the last two seasons (22% behind only Ben Roethlisberger), thanks to a lightning-quick release that should ease some concern here. But when he is hurried his passer rating falls over 50 points, the second-largest drop in the NFL (Drew Lock: -63.8). Another way of looking at it: His passer rating ranks 7th in the league when he isn't pressured, surrounded by Russell Wilson (6th) and Josh Allen (8th). But, when the pass rush does break through, he ranks 24th, sandwiched between Carson Wentz (23rd) and Davis Mills (25th).
Tom Brady under pressure with Buccaneers
Passer rating >>
>> 2nd-largest drop-off in NFL (-50.8 points)
Even with the staggering difference, it's still a shock to see just how much getting to Brady correlates to wins and losses. Tampa Bay has a 2-8 record in games where he is pressured more than 25% of the time, and a 27-2 record when it's 25% or less (including playoffs). It's unlike any other signal-caller in the league. No QB has seen a bigger rise in pressure rate in wins (18%) vs. losses (31%) than Brady since joining the Bucs.
We'll learn a lot about how this new-look line will hold up in the first month of the season.
Week 1 at Cowboys: The Cowboys' pass rush had the third-highest pressure rate in the NFL last season.
Week 2 at Saints: Brady is 0-4 in the regular season against the Saints since joining Tampa Bay. He has been sacked 13 times and pressured on 32% of his dropbacks in those games.
Week 3 vs. Packers: The Packers' pass rush had the fourth-highest pressure rate in the NFL last season.
Bottom line. Good offensive line play matters more to Brady than probably any quarterback in the league, and the Bucs unit stands as one of the most intriguing early-season storylines.