Keys to Cannon Fire: Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay

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TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 26: Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Donovan Smith (76) battles Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett (95) in pass protection during an NFL preseason football game between the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on August 26, 2017, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. The Browns defeated the Buccaneers 13-9. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Many acknowledge week three as the last week for veterans to get the most action. Some teams will play a few series. Others may play an entire half. Also, there might be starters who may not even play at all.

Tendencies are changing in today’s NFL. So, for the sake of discussion, let’s look at this as a final “walkthrough” for veterans. Come Friday evening at 7pm EDT, the Buccaneers will welcome the Cleveland Browns. Let’s breakdown the key’s to victory.

Offensive Line

The good news with the Buccaneers Offensive Line is that they are all returning starters from last year. The bad news is they were the 20th ranked Line in 2018 and have thus far been…meh. Eight Sacks allowed in two preseason games and have yet to provide decent running lanes for their Running Backs. Now, they face a defensive line full of productive talent. Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson and Oliver Vernon all have been known to live in opposing backfields.

The Offensive Line needs to give their QB some time to maneuver through a tough secondary. As well as setting up a run game as early and often as possible. Keeping the pressure down to a reasonable minimum would be a huge boost to the confidence up front.

Turnovers

In two weeks, the Buccaneers have forced just one turnover. The way the media has hyped up this defense has shown up on film a bit, but the lack of turnovers is concerning. Getting pressure on the Quarterback should snowball effect in to turnover opportunities. Coach Bowles needs to unleash more of his playbook this game to see what he has in his veterans.

Noah Spence has flashed. Kevin Minter and Deone Bucannon are showing promise on their new team. It definitely appears that Bowles has put together his squad the way he likes it. With only two weeks left before kickoff, it’s time to see what it can do.

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Making the Kick

Sadly, Buccaneers fans have had to endure a rough run of kickers going through the revolving door. For some reason, no matter who lined up to kick, the results were maddeningly bad. Then, as if General Manager, Jason Licht didn’t think we were still recovering from the Robert Aguayo pick, he drafted yet another kicker in 2019. Thankfully, it was several rounds later but you still have to feel the residual effect. That draft pick was Matt Gay out of Utah.

Is there reason for optimism? Results through two games would say yes. Week one, Gay hit a 55-yard Field Goal with about 10 more yards to spare. His camp competition is Cairo Santos who has also been a positive note from camp.

Trading of kicks and hitting almost everyone within 40 yards, both kickers have met expectations to say the least. The edge right now has to be with Matt Gay. Late draft pick. Big time leg and has been deadly accurate when it counts. After a nice drive, lead by rookie Tight End Tanner Hudson, Gay was asked to put the game against Miami away. With 28 seconds left in the game, on a swampy Bucs field, Gay nailed a 48 yard field goal to put the Bucs ahead. Those are the moments that count the most.

If Gay shows up again this week I expect two things. A Buccaneers victory and a spot in the locker room reserved for the final 53 roster spots.

Keys to victory may seem somewhat arbitrary, but a win is a win. Identifying starters is crucial. Setting tempo for the season is required. Most importantly, wins are a result of execution. Something that Buccaneers for years have been very inconsistent with.

Here’s to a Buccaneers victory and hopefully, a healthy return home for all players involved.

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