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Todd Bowles Finally Knows How To Use Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

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By: Scott Reynolds

Just four years after spending a first-round pick on outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in 2021, the Bucs are unfortunately in the market for an edge rusher once again.

Tryon-Shoyinka has never developed into the pass rusher Tampa Bay hoped it was getting when the team drafted the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder out of Washington with the 32nd overall pick just after winning Super Bowl LV in 2020. The Bucs did not pick up his fifth-year option for 2025, which means Tryon-Shoyinka is heading into a contract year this season.

Tampa Bay was hopeful that he could replace Jason Pierre-Paul as a starter in 2022 when was drafted. But it looks like Tryon-Shoyinka won’t even be able to replace Shaq Barrett as a starter this season as the team seems poised to use a premium pick on another outside linebacker in the draft.

Yet that doesn’t mean that Tryon-Shoyinka won’t be useful in Todd Bowles’ defense this season.

“We kind of know where we want to use Joe at now – he’s more of a ‘joker-type’ player for us to move around and do different things for us,” Bowles said.

Bowles isn’t kidding around when he calls Tryon-Shoyinka a “joker.” He means that JTS could be a wild card used in any hand that the Bucs’ defensive play-caller chooses to deal.

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Bears QB Justin Fields – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Joe is a very unique player,” Bowles said. “He’s not going to be a go-around-the-corner, Shaq-type guy. Joe can move all across the line of scrimmage and help us in a lot of things. He’s our linebacker, he’s our defensive end, he’s our three-tech, he’s our part-time nickel, he’s our part-time inside ‘backer. He can come from a lot of areas, so he has a lot of jobs. He’s one of those chess pieces that I talk about.”

The problem the Bucs face is that they did draft Tryon-Shoyinka to be a go-around-the corner pass rusher.

The team was hoping JTS could use his 4.68 speed, quickness and long arms to get to quarterbacks the way that Barrett did for five years in Tampa Bay, racking up 45 sacks from 2019-23.

Yet after two and a half seasons with the opportunity to become that player, the Bucs demoted Tryon-Shoyinka from the starting lineup in favor of rookie YaYa Diaby, who led the team with 7.5 sacks last year. Even now after Barrett’s release, the Bucs will be looking for someone other than Tryon-Shoyinka to be a starting outside linebacker opposite Diaby in 2024.

Todd Bowles Plans To Unleash Joe Tryon-Shoyinka’s Versatility In 2024

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As a rookie, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka showed his versatility when he subbed in for the injured Jason Pierre-Paul as an inside rusher in nickel defense, lining up at defensive tackle on 35 of the 571 snaps he played along the defensive line. Bucs head coach and defensive play-caller Todd Bowles also used him as a blitzing stand-up inside linebacker on 25 snaps, and Tryon-Shoyinka even played eight snaps in coverage in the slot.

When Pierre-Paul moved on in 2022, the Bucs wanted Tryon-Shoyinka to concentrate more on being the edge rusher the team had drafted him to become. That didn’t mean that he would rush the passer on every down, though.

Bowles used Tryon-Shoyinka’s athletic ability to drop in coverage in zone blitzes and zone calls even more that season. Tryon-Shoyinka had 113 coverage snaps that year, which was nearly double from his rookie year.

Yet the Bucs spent a first-round pick on him to get to the quarterback, and Tryon-Shoyinka struggled to finish once he got there. He missed several sack opportunities in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay.

After notching four sacks as a rookie, the Washington product plateaued at four sacks again in 2022 despite playing 869 snaps as an edge rusher in his first full season as a starter. Bowles reduced his workload playing other positions that year. JTS would primarily line up at outside linebacker during that season, and Bowles used him as a blitzing inside linebacker on just nine snaps and with only six reps in the slot.

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Shaq Barrett

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Shaq Barrett – Photo by: USA Today

When that didn’t work, Bowles went back to using Tryon-Shoyinka’s versatility last season. JTS played 597 snaps along the defensive line, mostly outside (587 snaps). But he did see 17 snaps at inside linebacker and 11 snaps at nickel cornerback – both were double the amount of snaps at those positions from the previous year.

Tryon-Shoyinka finished with a career-high five sacks last season, and his pass rush seemed to be more efficient and effective with fewer snaps after he was demoted.

His fifth and final sack of the 2023 season was a doozy, and it came at an opportune time.

Tryon-Shoyinka forced a fumble when he hit Carolina’s Bryce Young in the fourth quarter in Week 18. The Bucs recovered the fumble, and that turnover helped seal Tampa Bay’s ninth win of the season and capture a third straight NFC South title.

Bucs Still Waiting For Joe Tryon-Shoyinka To Be A Wild Card On Defense

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has had three outside linebackers coaches in his first three seasons in Tampa Bay and none of them could unleash the potential of the uber-athletic edge rusher. Now, George Edwards has spent a year learning what Tryon-Shoyinka can and can’t do, and how best to use him.

On Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Todd Bowles hinted that Tryon-Shoyinka could see even more time playing more positions than just outside linebacker. With the Bucs expected to draft another outside linebacker, and for last year’s rookies Markees Watts and Jose Ramirez to get more of an opportunity to showcase their pass rushing ability, Bowles appears poised to unleash Tryon-Shoyinka in more ways than ever in 2024.

“You’re always looking for that 15-sack guy, and sometimes that’s just a shot of luck at times – you get back there and the ball is out,” Bowles said. “We have a great deal of confidence in Watts becoming a more complete player, obviously. We still have [free agent] Cam Gill – we’ll see – and we have Ramirez. “We’re looking to get better from a ‘game’ standpoint and helping those guys out, too. If we had to play [with our current outside linebackers] we know we can play, but we’re always trying to upgrade our sack total.”

Bowles used to blitz Devin White with great frequency. But after five years, the Bucs moved on from their starting inside linebacker in free agency. Perhaps Tryon-Shoyinka sees more time as a blitzing inside linebacker this year, platooning with K.J. Britt in that role on obvious passing downs.

“He’s a different type of rusher,” Bowles said of Tryon-Shoyinka. “He’s very athletic. He can stunt and do a lot of things. He’s not going to come and bull you and go around the corner.

“Do we think he can rush the passer? Yes. Has he left some sacks out there? Yes, but he’s made some great plays for us and set up great plays for other people. That goes unnoticed because you don’t see him at the finality of the play. So we look for Joe just to come back and do those things for us and get better and better at what he’s doing.”

The Bucs hope that this joker finally gets wild during his contract year.

The post Todd Bowles Finally Knows How To Use Joe Tryon-Shoyinka appeared first on Pewter Report.

Originally posted on Pewter Report