Story by Evan Oscherwitz
The stage has been set for Super Bowl LV in Tampa, as Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a chance at a second consecutive Super Bowl victory.
In order to prevent Kansas City from becoming the first team to win back-to-back championships since the 2004 New England Patriots, the Buccaneers must do what the rest of the NFL has struggled to do over the past three seasons- shut down the Chiefs’ high-octane passing attack.
In an appearance on the Brad Cesmat Show, former NFL Network analyst and Super Bowl XXXIII champion Seth Joyner gave his thoughts on how Tampa Bay could make life as difficult as possible for Mahomes.
“The most important thing in my mind is rush lanes with Mahomes,” Joyner said. “As great of a passer as he is from the pocket, I think he’s even more dangerous when you let him out of the pocket, when he’s on the move, when he’s improvising.”
The numbers do not lie when it comes to Mahomes’ affinity for extending plays and making throws on the run. He led the NFL with 16 touchdown passes from outside the pocket and averaged 7.3 yards per scramble, good enough for 6th best among quarterbacks with at least 25 rushing attempts.
TOE. DRAG. SWAG.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 20, 2020
“The closer he gets to the sideline, the deep guys always seem to come back to the ball,” Joyner said. “The shallow crossers and the guys that are flat, they turn around and take it upfield. I think he’s much more dangerous like that.”
The key for Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles involves finding a way to get quick pressure on Mahomes and taking advantage of his tendency to drop back deep in the pocket.
Tampa Bay ran the fifth-most blitzes of any team in the league during the regular season, sending extra rushers on 39 percent of their defensive snaps and recording the fourth-most sacks. However, due to Mahomes’ past success against the blitz, it is likely that the Buccaneers will rely mostly on four-man rushes during the Super Bowl.
When the two teams met in week 12 of the regular season, Kansas City exploded for 309 yards of offense in the first half and recorded several large gains on plays where the Bucs brought heavy pressure.
When Bowles stopped calling blitzes in the second half, the Chiefs offense stalled, and Tampa Bay came to within a field goal of tying the game after trailing by 17 at the half.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 29, 2020
The Buccaneers’ task will be made easier by the absence of Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher, who suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the AFC Championship.
While the Chiefs allowed the fifth fewest sacks in the league during the regular season despite numerous injuries to their offensive line, losing Fisher ahead of a meeting with the Buccaneers’ imposing pass rush could spell trouble for Kansas City.
While much uncertainty surrounds the state of Kansas City’s offensive line, Super Bowl LV is sure to be a captivating matchup in all regards.
Whether the Chiefs complete their quest for back-to-back titles or the Buccaneers atone for their 13-year playoff drought with an improbable Super Bowl win, anyone who watches the game will be a witness to history.