When the NFL schedule came out in early May, one game Kansas City Chiefs fans were eagerly looking towards was the game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite this being a rare AFC vs NFC clash, the joy of watching Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady face off once again piqued interest. Enjoying one of the best starts to a quarterback’s career, Mahomes knows he is not on Brady’s level yet, as he stated early this week, calling Tom a “global star.”
Kansas City sits atop the AFC West at 9-1. Meanwhile, the Bucs are coming off of their second disappointing loss in three weeks. Tampa is currently 7-4 on the season. Quite frankly, as good as the teams are, neither are playing to their full potential. Today, we will focus on the Chiefs’ opponent in that equation. From behind enemy lines, here is our view of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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Good and Bad
On paper, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could boast the top offensive unit in the league. Along with Brady, the wide receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin is a rare gift of WR1’s on the same team. Antonio Brown has appeared to have carved out a fine role recently. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has looked like his old self, when he is on. But right now, this unit is not living up to the hype.
The running back rotation is a head scratcher. Ronald Jones, a former second round pick, is a difficult head full of steam to stop if he’s rolling. However, fumbles and an inconsistent trait of vision have led to a back and forth campaign. Leonard Fournette is a short yardage specialist. Tampa Bay has become very decisive though, in what situations they rotate backs. This has led to plateaus in the rushing attack. In addition, Brady might as well forget about throwing to the running backs altogether. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have seen their RBs drop 14 passes on the season.
Even Brady himself, has been up and down. It’s not doom or gloom. Nonetheless, he has been inaccurate down the field. It’s not an arm strength thing, as the vet has shown plenty of velocity recently. Pass rushes, double coverage and sometimes frustration has led to bad interceptions. In fact, Brady has not completed any of his last 19 deep passes, according to Next Gen Stats. In his last four games, he has missed on 22 deep passes.
The blame should not all fall on Brady though. A predictable set of play calling has led to simple passing concepts on third and long situations. They also have been good coming off of losses, and the Kansas City defense is struggling right now. This makes for must watch TV on Sunday, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is on the field. Something has to give.
Looking To Bounce Back
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense started off the season pretty strong, for the most part. Defensive backs like Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean have broke out and busted into the scene. Rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr has been as good as the team could have hoped for. This defensive back group is sticky in coverage and does a great job of flying downhill. This will be an intriguing challenge for Mahomes.
On the other hand, this front seven is one of the more daunting units in the league. Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston lead one of the best run stuffing defensive lines. Lavonte David, Devin White and Shaq Barrett are also a strong collective unit at linebacker. Their aggressiveness and ability to attack will be a demanding test for the Chiefs offense. They are quick to fly up and make plays near the line of scrimmage. Dropping into coverage is easier for this group than others too, because of their instincts and ball skills.
This group struggled a bit with the speed and creative looks from the Rams last week. Similar looks and attempts will likely be used by Andy Reid‘s offense. This Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense can takeover a game in a flash. Like their offense, they are looking to bounce back, making this an even more entertaining matchup going in.
We will have our game preview episode of the FPC Chiefs Podcast drop before kickoff, so be on the lookout for that. There may be a special guest joining us. Finally, our game preview article with keys to victory for each team will be released on Saturday. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.