Tampa Bay Buccaneers' linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul is "playing lights out" according to Bucs' head coach Bruce Arians.
Over the past two weeks, Pierre-Paul has recorded an interception in back-to-back games for the Bucs, the first linebacker to do so since Lavonte David did so in three-consecutive games in 2013.
In addition to his recent interceptions, Pierre-Paul's 7.5 sacks rank eighth in the NFL and fourth-best among all linebackers. Career-wise, he needs 1.0 more to pass Ronde Barber (28.0 from 1997-2012) for eighth-most in franchise history.
Arians believes Pierre-Paul's total performance so far this season is Pro Bowl worthy.
"He's done a great job," Arians said Wednesday about JPP. "The one [interception] against Carolina was outstanding – dropped right into the zone – and this one, he read the screen all the way. He should be on the Pro Bowl ballot for sure. He's getting a lot of pressure and he was one of the best players we had on the field Monday night."
Pierre-Paul believes he's just doing exactly what he and Bucs' general manager Jason Licht spoke about when Licht brought him to Tampa Bay in 2018.
"I told him I'm going to give him 110 percent every time I step on that field," Pierre-Paul said about his conversation with Licht. "I did my first year – second year, due to the broken neck car accident injury that I had – and returned back in Week 8 – I did what I had to do. This year, I'm having a great season again. It's not a surprise to me – I knew that I was going to do those things. It's just the fact that everybody's seeing it now."
Arians explained he and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles are finding new ways to utilize Pierre-Paul.
"As much as we can," Arians said. "We had him up the middle, we've had him off the edges, we've dropped him... Everything he can do that we're trying to do."
In doing so, Pierre-Paul has seen the field a lot more this season, something Pierre-Paul likes. Against the Rams, Pierre-Paul played in 97% of defensive snaps, which was a season-high for him. A week prior, he played in 90% of defensive snaps.
"For sure," Pierre-Paul said when asked if he is upset when he is taken off the field. "My coach always tells me, 'I need you to get a little bit of rest.' Reality is, when is the time to rest when you're playing football, especially when you're trying to win a game? Me personally, I'm not going to come out unless I feel like I need to come out."
"I think me and my coach bump heads a little bit with that," Pierre-Paul added. "He's always trying to look out for me – but I'd rather stay in because I know in the heat of the moment, anything can happen in just those couple of seconds."
Another impressive performance from Pierre-Paul will be needed greatly this week when the Kansas City Chiefs come to town. The Chiefs bring the number one passing offense and average the most points scored per game this season with 32.1 points.
"They can stretch the field in a lot of different ways – vertically, horizontally – they're good run-after-the-catch-guys [and] they did a great job of building a roster to the type of players they like," Arians said about the Chiefs. "They're built on speed and Pat [Mahomes] does a hell of a job distributing the ball to everybody."
Regardless of what percentage of snaps Pierre-Paul sees on Sunday vs. the Chiefs, he says he'll give it his all.
"At the end of the day, it isn't promised tomorrow that you're going to get another snap," Pierre-Paul said. "Like I said, I'm always going to leave it out there. It doesn't matter if it's 100 snaps or if it's 50 snaps – you're going to see me giving it all out."