Welcome to week one Buccaneers fans. It’s been a grueling wait the past six months, but the regular season has finally arrived. I know this is always the time where we proclaim “this is our year!”, but the boasting is over. Now is the time to see what our Kangol hat savior has in store for the city of Tampa. With the San Francisco 49ers coming to town, let’s take a look at the keys to victory in this weeks pre-game breakdown.
In 2018, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense was good. Very good. Unfortunately, they were in the upper echelon of turnovers as well. Which, in turn, was not doing an already struggling defense any favors. Pass defense was third-worst in the league and the pass rush was sporadic. Jason Pierre-Paul was a welcomed addition to the team as he was the only double-digit sack producer for the Bucs since Simeon Rice in 2005. Yes, it was that long ago. Can the Bucs take the clean slate of 2019 and make a playoff run, starting with a victory against San Francisco? They can. And here’s how.
Let’s face it. When you face the Niners, the first name that comes to mind from a threat perspective is easily George Kittle. In 2018, Kittle not only overcame adversity in the form of injury to his Quarterback, but he also crushed it. Historically speaking that is. When the season concluded, Kittle had earned himself the honor of being the new All-Time Season leader in receiving yards for Tight Ends. All of which, and no offense to, was done with a combination of Nick Mullens and C.J Beathard after a 3 game run with Jimmy Garoppolo. That’s impressive.
With a presumed fully healthy Garoppolo and supporting cast around him, one would believe he’s going to continue to dominate. This will need to be the primary focus for the maligned defense of 2018. New additions of Devin White and more experienced Secondary are reasons for optimism. Though likely, it’s going to be a hope to contain situation rather than an ability to stop. Tampa Bay was the 10th worst-ranked team defense against tight ends in 2018. That is not a reason for optimism facing such a powerhouse player in Kittle. If this Defense can hold Kittle to under 100-yards receiving I think it translates in to win.
Turning Over a New Leaf
Pardon my attempt to get cute with the title, but let’s be serious. Turnovers are a momentum killer. Even for one of the leagues top offenses. Giving up the ball in your own territory is asking a lot of your defense as well. This simply can not be another year where the Buccaneers are handing the ball back to the opposing team almost set to a timer.
In 2018, the Buccaneers were the second to worst team with a -18 turnover differential. This right here is how you lose six games in a season despite scoring more than 27 points in a game. The defense does need to do its part of takeaway’s, but the quarterback play is and has been the achilles heel for this team for years.
Jameis Winston, in a contract year, will have to make sure this is fixed. Otherwise, he will allow the visiting Niners to walk in and out of the end zone and ultimately, with a win.
Let’s face it. The only thing that has plagued this team worse than turnovers is missed kicks. Matt Gay earned this job and has made kicks when it counted. Preseason is limited but he was able to take the lead in two separate games with a tough field goal in the closing minutes.
It’s real simple. Make the kicks and we’ll send home the Niners with a 0-1 record.
Happy kickoff week Tampa Bay and Buccaneers fans across the world. A healthy squad and new leader is enough to keep us in the hunt all season long. Show up and make sure we load the stands in Raymond James Stadium with red and pewter jerseys. Scream. Cheer. Jeer. Make this stadium a place that will make opposing teams dread playing in. These are Buccaneers fans keys to victory.