Week 3 of the season is here, and Sunday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will square off with the New York Giants. The Buccaneers come into this matchup 1-1 after a gritty win on Thursday night against the division rival Carolina Panthers. The projected outcome of this game has changed a lot over the course of the past week. The Giants recently named rookie quarterback Daniel Jones the starter over veteran Eli Manning.
It is safe to say the Buccaneers have a long history of struggling against rookie quarterbacks, and in the NFL nobody can be underestimated. Let’s a look at three Buccaneers that could make or break this matchup.
Number One: Jameis Winston
I know, I know, another writer talking about how the inconsistent quarterback holds the fate of the football team, but it is the truth. Last week was one of Jameis Winston’s best games he has ever played. Did he have four touchdowns through the air? No. Did he make any unbelievable plays from outside of the pocket? Not really. So what did he do? He managed the game. When it was was time to pump the brakes, he was patient and didn’t force the ball into bad spots. Last week he wasn’t a superstar, he was a quarterback; he was exactly what the Buccaneers needed him to be. This week and throughout the rest of the season he needs to be that same quarterback. The Buccaneers’ defense statistically ranks in the top 10 as of Week 3, so all Winston has to do is, again, manage the game.
Number Two: Vita Vea
On Thursday, the Buccaneers held Carolina’s “diamond in the rough” running back Christian McCaffrey to just 37 yards on 16 attempts. McCaffrey went from averaging five yards a carry against the Los Angeles Rams, to averaging less than three against the Buccaneers. Whomever you want to attribute the defensive success to, defensive tackle Vita Vea owns a slice of that pie. With the tackling on the Buccaneers’ defense improving significantly this year, Vea has been a major run-stuffer in the middle. Of course, it’s not only Vea’s success; it’s also the cornerbacks being able to contain on the outside and the linebackers’ gap control. His ability to shut down the run between the tackles will have a big impact on whether or not the Buccaneers can shut down Saquon Barkley. As I’m sure most of you know if Barkley wins the Giants win.
Number Three: O.J. Howard
Shh…if you’re not quiet you’ll wake him. It goes without saying that tight end O.J. Howard is a freak of an athlete that creates mismatches all over the board. This week, Howard will be matched up against a struggling linebacker core. Now let’s be truthful here; Howard is off to a very slow start. A few turnovers and drops and suddenly everyone is calling for your number, but success will quiet all of that this week. Howard has a lot of responsibility this week, not just because his matchup is highly favorable, but also because of the need to gain his fans’ trust again. The Giants’ defense has allowed nearly 700 passing yards in the first two games and has already given up five touchdowns through the air. Don’t be surprised to hear Howard’s name on Sunday.