The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed up north to play a week two match up against the Carolina Panthers. The Buccaneers are preparing on a short week, playing on Thursday Night Football. The main headline is the redemption game for Gerald McCoy, can he notch a sack against his former team?
Gerald McCoy and the entire Panthers’ defensive line did not have a good showing against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. In fact, the front four did not even record a sack on Jarred Goff, and McCoy finished the game with only one tackle.
But there is always something different about playing against your former team. Emotions run high, and we saw this with Kwon Alexander before he was ejected on a helmet to helmet hit against Jameis Winston.If you haven’t already noticed, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line is just simply bad.
McCoy spent multiple training camps facing players like Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet, so he knows their strengths and weaknesses. McCoy will likely line up against Cappa, and the Buccaneers better provide some help or it could be a long afternoon in Charlotte.
It wouldn’t be a true scouting report without including Cam Newton. The former MVP hurt his shoulder last season, derailing the Panthers season in the process. But it looks like he was fully healthy to start the season against the Rams, launching a second-half comeback that just came up short.
The Buccaneers need to keep Newton in the pocket. In 2018, Newton recorded a 57.4 quarterback rating, ranking 18th in the NFL. To be fair, Newton did play games injured before being pulled for the remainder of the season. But if you look back to 2017, Newton was actually ranked one spot lower. The point? Make Newton throw the ball and deter him from using his legs which has historically been his kryptonite.
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If the Buccaneers truly have a chance to win this game, they need to slow down Christian McCaffrey. The last time the two teams played in Charlotte, McCaffrey recorded 158 yards and two touchdowns.
This is why Devin White was drafted. To shadow players like Alvin Kamara and McCaffrey. His sideline to sideline speed was the quickest out of all the linebackers in the draft, and this game is a huge stepping stone in his development.
McCaffrey is one of the best running backs in the NFL and his ability to make people miss in space could prove to be a huge problem if Tampa doesn’t swarm to the football. This defense looked much improved against the San Francisco 49ers in week one, but do they have what it takes to slow down a top-three running back?
Ronald Jones II played well in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers and finished with 13 carries for 75 yards. This, of course, was after the ejection of Kwon Alexander, which opened up the inside run game.
With Luke Kuechly manning the middle, Jones II and Peyton Barber will have a much more difficult time running downhill. The Buccaneers failed to record over 100 yards rushing against the Panthers in 2018.
If week one taught us anything, Tampa will want to establish the run and take all the pressure off Winston. Someone needs to put a body on Kuechly, but I’m not sure this line is talented enough to slow him down.
One advantage the Buccaneers do have is a little game film for the Panthers to study. Byron Leftwich will need to be more creative to keep the linebackers guessing.
In re-watching last weeks game, I noticed the Buccaneers ran often on 1st down, something we criticized Dirk Koetter for. I hope Leftwich mixes up his play calls and utilizes play action. Something we rarely saw last week.
In conclusion, the Buccaneers need to stop McCaffrey and limit Kuechly to have a chance to win this game. If Tampa can pull off a win, their record will improve to 1-1 before traveling back home to play the struggling New York Giants.