The wound is still fresh from the last-second loss to the New York Giants. Yet again, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose to a back up/rookie Quarterback in his first start. And in a dominating fashion. Daniel Jones wasn’t even on the list of “Keys to Cannon Fire”. Which we can likely attribute to the loss that all Buccaneers fans are still reeling over. But I digress. It’s a new week and a new opponent. Let’s check in on what the Buccaneers have to do this week against the Los Angeles Rams.
Last week, we talked about containing Saquon Barkley. In a way, the Buccaneers did exactly that. Mostly by taking him out of the game. Literally. The Buccaneers have one of the leagues best-run defenses coming in at sixth-best overall in rush yards allowed. Will they be able to do it again with Todd Gurley lining up against them? Perhaps, but maybe that’s not the biggest problem…
How Do You Stop Aaron Donald?
…this guy is their biggest problem. I mean, this could be the only key to a Buccaneer victory. That’s how good he is. The big stats won’t reflect it, but Donald is easily the most disruptive force in the trenches this year and the Buccaneers are going to have to focus on stopping him.
The offensive line has had a fair share of struggles this year already. Tampa comes in at PFF’s 19th ranked Offensive Line and it definitely feels like a generous ranking. With that being known, it’s very likely that the Buccaneers somewhere around the 29th ranked unit after facing this defensive front. Jameis Winston is tied for seventh in most sacks taken in only three games. It is crucial that this number does not get any worse come Sunday.
There is going to be a very good chance that Coach Arians and Coach Leftwich bring in OJ Howard again to be an additional blocker for max protection. Sorry fantasy owners.
Make The Kick
I left that as a singular “Kick” for a reason. Obviously, making just the extra point is crucial and could be the difference in the game. It just has to be done. However, the kick is the one where the pressure is on and there is no second chance. Closing seconds in the 4th quarter, down by one point with the game on the line type of a kick.
These are the kicks that define a player. Missing a big kick has been known to completely derail a players confidence in one of the most mental positions in sports.
With the big miss already weighing on Matt Gay’s shoulders, he’s going to have to shut out the negatives and just go out and do what he was drafted to do. Which was exactly what he was doing since week one.
- Versus San Francisco – 2/2 XP’s. 1/1 FG’s. 100% all around.
- Versus Carolina – 2/2 XP’s. 2/3 FG’s. Missing one from 42 yards
- Versus New York – 1/3 XP’s (One blocked/One wide left). 4/5 FG’s
With his one shanked extra point to start the game aside, Gay was looking automatic. Hitting from 47, 27, 23 and a long of 52 for the day before being asked to put the game away from 34 yards out. It was initially 29 before a delay of game penalty, which we won’t even try to understand why it happened. Either way, we are going to likely lean heavily on the leg of Gay this week looking at a tough defense. His bounce-back is going to be absolutely imperative.
Speed of the Offense
We are not talking about running fast. Though it helps. We are talking about controlling the game and moving the ball quickly. This offense is dependent upon a letting the big play develop and that just isn’t going to happen against this defense.
Jameis Winston is a winner. He wins so much that he often beats himself. This offense absolutely has to let Jameis win with his eyes and arm instead of letting him over-read his progressions. There just won’t be enough time.
Time and time again this year, Jameis has been hesitant to make tight throws. Instead of throwing the ball away or tucking and run, he has waited for receivers to get open. During an interview this week, Winston stated that he “got sacked a lot” last week. If the inability to make quick decisions remains we can guarantee a lot more sacks on Sunday.
With five road games ahead, including a “home” game in London, the Buccaneers are going to need a great game to set the tone for the next month. The first game being across the country, we are going to see how this team handles a tough defeat and how resilient they are against a tough NFC matchup.