The Tampa Bay Buccaneers season is slipping away quickly after losing their fifth time in six games. The Bucs defense struggled mightily in the first half against Carolina and had to try and rally in the second half. Their next opponent, the Washington Redskins, currently sit in first place of the NFC East but they don’t look as dangerous as some other teams the Bucs faced recently. Let’s take a look at the Skins team and how the Buccaneers can get back in the win column.
The Buccaneers are sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick again this week after a tough road division loss to the Carolina Panthers. The Buccaneers offense has been explosive at times but they either start too slowly or can’t come back from double-digit deficits. The offense is the best in franchise history at points per game but they currently have the worst turnover differential in the league at -17. It’s hard to win when you turn the ball over that much more than getting takeaways. The offense is trying it’s best to keep games close but the defense needs a complete overhaul. Big injuries have derailed whatever potential this defense had and this season looks like its another year on the outside looking in. There is plenty of time to get back in this and a home game against a team with a winning record could help spark the squad.
The Washington Redskins are 5-3 and in first place in the NFC East. However, they are the only team leading their division but have a negative point differential. Losing by 24 at home is not going to help anything after a strong start to the season. The Redskins need a win to keep a game ahead of the Eagles in their division and the Buccaneers can play spoilers this week in Ray Jay.
The Washington Redskins biggest weakness is their offense. They rank 25th in the league in total yards per game and 25th in points at 20 points per game. The struggle mostly passing the ball. With Alex Smith under center, they weren’t expected to have a high flying aerial attack and they keep losing weapons to injury. They are running the ball effectively and seemed to have revived Adrian Peterson’s career.
Alex Smith is continuing his career as a quarterback that is not going to strike fear in the hearts of defenses, no matter how poor their secondary is. Currently, Ryan Fitzpatrick is 74 yards behind Alex Smith in three fewer games. Alex Smith likes throwing quick short passes so they can exploit the Bucs weakness in the middle and lack of tackling ability. Smith could have his most productive game because the Bucs like giving up points no matter who they are playing.
The Redskins offensive line is nothing like it was to start the season solely due to injury. Currently, four of five starters could be out on Sunday. Their biggest loss is right guard Brandon Scherff who tore his pec this past weekend. Trent Williams, one of the skins team captains, is also going to miss time with a thumb injury. The Bucs defensive line has struggled to get to the quarterback this season but should be licking their lips for this game.
The Redskins rushing offense was looking like it might struggle after Derrius Guice went down with an injury early in the preseason. Then they signed the ageless wonder Adrian Peterson. Entering this weeks game with the 5th most rushing yards this season. He is on pace for 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns, something he hasn’t done since 2015. He is going to be a threat against the Bucs because the Redskins are using him well and he always seems to dominate against Tampa Bay. In only four career games against the Bucs, Peterson averages 115.5 yards per game and five touchdowns. The Bucs are 3-1 against Adrian Peterson but their one loss came last year to the struggling Arizona Cardinals.
Alex Smith is currently second on the team in rushing yards and is quietly a threat to get the first down if you don’t keep an eye on him. Chris Thompson has only played once in their last four games but earlier this year he was a threat rushing and receiving. If he can play the Bucs will likely have trouble containing both him and Peterson.
A weakness of this team is their wide receivers. Of their top five pass catchers so far this season only two of them are wide receivers. Paul Richardson and Maurice Harris don’t have 500 combined receiving yards this season Buccaneers currently have two receivers with over 500 yards by themselves and OJ Howard is 28 yards away from 500 himself. Jordan Reed is the Redskins leading receiver with 340 yards but only one touchdown.
Again this Buccaneers team is giving up over 300 passing yards per game so the Skins should see some production from their weapons this weekend. Alex Smith can do some damage when he wants to but he recently seems disinterested in tearing up defenses.
The Redskins defense is ranked 10th in the league only allowing 343 yards per game. Compared to Tampa giving up 414 it seems like the Bucs are going against an elite squad this Sunday. The Redskins have struggled against the pass allowing the 20th most yards per game, 254, but are 5th against the run allowing only 89.4 yards per game. This works well for the Bucs as they get to utilize their strength against the Redskins biggest defensive weakness.
The Redskins defense does have some formidable players on it. With star cornerback Josh Norman locking down one side and newly acquired Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix they should improve slightly against the pass. Their defensive line is young but they have some major players. In the last two drafts the Redskins went back to back with Alabama Defensive Tackles with Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. They have combined for seven sacks so far this season and for two young interior rushers thats pretty good production.
This is also a revenge game for two former Buccaneers. Mason Foster and DJ Swearinger seemed to have revitalized their careers on the Redskins. Swearinger is also tied for first in the league with four interceptions. The Buccaneers team only has one total.
The Redskins defense is one of the most penalized with the 4th most in the league, 64, and the 9th most yards, 525, the Bucs could try and utilize their aggressiveness against them. The Bucs should try and be pass heavy this week but they have to be careful and not try and turnover the ball.
REDSKINS SPECIAL TEAMS
The Redskins special teams is very average this season. Kicker Dustin Hopkins is 87.5% on field goals, only missing two from beyond 40 yards. He is a perfect 16/16 on extra points, something the Bucs wish they could have. Hopkins is also 3/3 from beyond 50 yards and has a long of 56. He’s been very consistent this year and when he is on the field the Bucs should not expect him to miss.
The Redskins punter Tress Way is having his worst season on total distance but is still above average for an NFL punter this year. With 43.1 yards per punt with a net of 40.2 he is getting a lot of help from his gunners. They also have forced the third most fair catches, 13, this year. For Way’s 37 punts this season he has 21 inside the 20 yard line, 57%, best in the league.
The Redskins special teams isn’t going to blow anybody away this year but have done their job as well as they can. They are making most of their kicks and flipping field position so their coaches shouldn’t complain.