TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano didn’t need a stat sheet to know what St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn has done this season. The numbers already are fixed in Schiano’s mind.
“He’s got 15 sacks and seven forced fumbles, so that tells you something,’’ Schiano said. “He’s as good as tomahawk chopping the backside of the quarterback as there is. You haven’t seen a guy do it with that effectiveness since L.T. (Lawrence Taylor). L.T. used to knock that ball out with a vicious tomahawk chop. He’s bringing it that way. I mean, seven forced fumbles? Think about that. That’s a lot of forced fumbles in 14 games.’’
Quinn and fellow defensive end Chris Long present problems for any offense and the Buccaneers, who rank No. 32 in passing, undoubtedly will have their hands full.
“Are you going to stop him? No,’’ Schiano said. “But you have to at least don’t let him take over the game. He’ll make his plays. Our quarterback needs to be aware that when you have a guy that is so adept at sack fumbling that you better have a nice tight grip on that football when you’re in the pocket in case the protection does break down.’’
Much of the responsibility for slowing Quinn will fall on left tackle Donald Penn, although the Bucs are likely to provide plenty of help. Quinn had 10.5 sacks last season, but Penn said the third-year pro has emerged at an elite level this season.
“I think he’s become a way smarter player,’’ Penn said. “Last year, I think he was just going out and playing. I can tell he’s putting in a lot of film work, studying the guy he’s going against and using what they do wrong to his advantage. He’s playing consistent.’’
Penn said he’s ready for the challenge.
“It’s good to go against this matchup after playing probably one of my worst games of the season last game against the 49ers,’’ Penn said. “It’s good to bounce back and try to redeem myself against a great pass-rusher.’’