We saw an offensive explosion from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last weeks season opener at New Orleans, what is it going to take to continue that trend this week, against the defending champs?
FitzMagic was fun to watch wasn’t it? We have become accustomed to seeing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the other side of games like that. On Sunday Bucs fans got the opportunity to be on the right side for once. Let’s not get carried away though. This was the third season opener that Dirk Koetter has come away with a victory, but let me remind you what happened after the last two. In 2016 after an opening day win at Atlanta, they followed up with a 33 point loss to Arizona in week two. In 2017 the Bucs opened the season with a 22 point win over Chicago. The next week the Bucs were embarrassed by 17 at Minnesota. The best way to avoid continuing this trend, is to slow down the game and play physical football.
Eagles > Saints
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense had their way against the Saints Defense in week one but we should temper our expectations this Sunday. That’s not to say the Bucs can’t win this week, but it isn’t realistic to expect the same type of production out of the offense. To put it simply, the Eagles defense is much better than that of the Saints. The key to this week’s game will be the offensive line and more specifically, the run blocking of the offensive line.
The run game must be better.
By looking at the stats from Sunday’s game you may think the Bucs ran the ball decently, but did they really? Peyton Barber had a few nice runs but overall the team averaged 3.3 YPC for the day. More importantly they were unable to find success running the ball when it was most important, the 4th quarter. The way an offensive line makes a statement is by running the ball down the opposing defenses throat in the 4th quarter to ice a game. The Buccaneers run game was unable to make that happen Sunday and because of this coupled with a soft defense, the margin of victory ended up being narrower than it should have been.
Ball control is key, the Buccaneers must establish the ground game.
To find success against the Eagles it is important for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to put together long, time consuming scoring drives. If we are being honest, the defense still has a lot of improving to do. Running the ball effectively and playing a ball control style will keep the defense off the field which could very well be the key to this game. While Foles didn’t look great last week he has been a Buc killer throughout his career. A potent run game will keep him, and the rest of the Eagles offense, on the sideline where they can’t exploit the weak Buccaneers defense.
The Eagles boast a very talented group on the defensive line.
Sunday against the Eagles, the offensive line needs to set the tone early and often. Philadelphia is very physical on defense, it is imperative that the Bucs match this level of physicality. We saw the nasty streak that Ryan Jensen brings to the offensive line in full display last week. This Sunday, it will be needed more ever. The interior of the line will have their hands full with Fletcher Cox and Haloti Ngata. In order to find success on the ground those two need to be neutralized. The Eagles defense also feature multiple great players coming off the edge in Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, and Chris Long. It will be up to Demar Dotson and Donovan Smith to keep these edge rushers in check.
Run the ball, win the game.
I look for the Bucs and Todd Monken to make an effort to really establish the run game this week. Success on the ground can be found behind the left side of the line featuring Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. Running the ball early and often will help facilitate the return of FitzMagic. With a Dominant run game established, we will see the linebackers and safeties cheating to stop Peyton Barber. This should give Fitzpatrick some great play action opportunities, especially when targeting Cam Brate and O.J Howard. If the Bucs can gain 120 yards on the ground and average around 4 YPC expect them to win. With all of the experts picking the Saints last week, 2-0 would be “improbable”.