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Why Bucs defense could give Patrick Mahomes another long day at the office

The last time Tampa Bay faced Kansas City in Super Bowl 55, it kept the Chiefs out of the end zone in a 31-9 win.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is pursued by Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) during Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) is pursued by Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) during Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Oct. 1|Updated Oct. 1

TAMPA — The last time the Bucs faced Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, he traveled 497 yards across Raymond James Stadium before throwing the football or being sacked in Super Bowl 55, according to NextGenStats.

Linebacker Shaquil Barrett did a lot of the chasing of Mahomes that night, applying constant pressure, including four quarterback hits and a sack. In all, Mahomes was pressured 29 times on 56 dropbacks, according to ESPN.

The Chiefs have completely rebuilt their offensive line since then, although Barrett provided them with bulletin board material Wednesday by saying he felt Sunday night’s game would be a “coming out party” for the Bucs’ edge rushers.

That remains to be seen, but the Bucs may have another advantage this time around: The Chiefs no longer have receiver Tyreek Hill, who was traded to the Dolphins.

Hill torched the Bucs earlier that year with 13 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns in a three-point win. He had seven receptions for 73 yards in Super Bowl 55.

Without Hill, Mahomes has been much more willing to spread the football around to new receivers such as JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

“Hopefully, we won’t have to cover for a long time because the pressure is getting there,” Barrett said. “But (Mahomes) is a playmaker, he’s going to make guys miss and try to extend the plays and make a play. Hopefully, we can limit that as much as possible, because it’s hard to cover guys for five or six seconds no matter who you are, no matter what caliber of DB you are, and we’ve got a lot of good ones on the team.”

The Bucs defense has a chance to be elite, having only surrendered nine points per game, fewest in the league.

Its only blemish is a proclivity for surrendering points on the first possession of the game. Twenty of the 27 points allowed have come on the first drive.

However, not surprisingly, the unit feels pretty confident in its ability to contain Mahomes, if not chase him all over the field again Sunday.

“I learned that he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks that I’ve ever faced,” said inside linebacker Devin White, who had a game-clinching interception in the Super Bowl. “Obviously besides that, he’s a guy that when you face him, you’ve got to be patient with him.

“You’ve got to be able to go card-for-card. If he throws out an ace, you’ve got to throw out a king-type of deal. You’ve got to be able to go back and forth with him. ... You’ve got to have a great gameplan for him to be able to try and decipher through the defenses that we’re throwing at him, as well.”

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Harvard Radcliffe School of Football

Jason Garrett owns an impressive resume as an NFL quarterback, offensive coordinator and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys from 2010-19.

But the new analyst for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” enjoyed a transitional year of sorts in his final year as a player with the Bucs in 2004.

Consider the future NFL head coaches Garrett was exposed to on Jon Gruden’s staff: Mike Tomlin, Kyle Shanahan, Rod Marinelli, Rich Bisaccia, Jay Gruden and Raheem Morris.

“I’d played four years in New York. I had wrestled with the idea of getting into coaching,” Garrett said. “I had some opportunities to do that. And I said, ‘You know? I’m going to play one more year.’ I was 38 years old and had a chance to go down there and sign with the Bucs.

“Brad Johnson was the quarterback, Brian Griese was there, Chris Simms was there, so it wasn’t a great playing situation for me, but I thought it was a really good football situation. ... A lot of good football guys who I knew of and had fondness for from before. It was really the first time I allowed myself to think about what was next.

“It was a funny situation,” Garrett continued, “but I viewed it as the Radcliffe School of Football. It turned out to be that way for me.”

Of course, the Bucs’ training facility was a cramped, antiquated building off Tampa International Airport’s Runway 36 Right.

“That facility was like none other,” Garrett said. “(Simms, now an NBC colleague) and I laugh about it all the time. It was us four quarterbacks and it was John Shoop, who was the quarterback coach. Coach (Jon) Gruden would come in. Coach Shanahan was there.

“Simms and I always laugh. He used to always sit right in the front wall, eating his scrambled eggs and having his feet up on the wall where the film was projected right there. Shoop would be asking questions, and he would be saying, ‘Well, I can’t really see the angle.’ It was funny stuff. You walk out of there going, ‘This is pro football?’”

Hall monitor

The Bucs miss defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who is lost for another three weeks with a foot injury. But it means more opportunity for Logan Hall. The second-round pick from Houston has asserted himself as a pass rusher with a sack, three quarterback hits and a tackle for loss.

Hall’s speed and athleticism will only help the Bucs against a mobile quarterback such as Mahomes.

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