Let me start this off with, I would have never thought that the buccaneers would ever hold an NFL offense to no offensive touchdowns. This defense in 2018 would never have stopped anyone on 4th down on the one yard line. Todd Bowles and this entire coaching staff have this team believing in each other and having them playing together as one single unit. The Tampa Bay defense showed up big on primetime football on Thursday night.
Owning the Line of scrimmage
One of the key components are winning the line of scrimmage on the offense and defensive lines and Tampa Bay won both. When I rewatched tape I saw everyone on the defensive line making a play at some point in the game whether it be in the run or passing game. The Buccaneers were able to force the panthers to go 0-3 on 4th down conversions while also creating a fumble from Cam Newton for a turnover. Newton finished that game with plenty of missed opportunities and went 24/50 324 yards and no touchdown passes. The big stop of the day was the 4th and goal “Panther Special “was repacked and sent back to the sender as VH3 was able to save the day with a sure tackle on Christian McCaffrey. The Tampa Bay defense also limited McCaffrey to just 16 carries for 37 yards.
Vita Vea & Ndamukong Suh alone have set the bar high for what the caliber of play is expected from the interior lineman on this defense. Vea & Suh will continue to clog running lanes and keep opponents QBs very uncomfortable in the pocket. William Gholston has played well the last two games in this new system on defense. It seems making the jobs easier on the defensive line is helping Gholston.
Winner: Barrett 3 tackles 3 sacks
Barrett came up with 3 big-time sacks when the defense needed it most and has a season total of 4 thus far.
Owning the sky
In today’s NFL, it’s nearly impossible to stop anybody passing for yards with all the new rules and penalties. Newton threw for more than 300 yards with 50 attempts and zero touchdown passes. The Buccaneers harassed him all night long and made easy throws extremely hard to make. When your defensive line can make a quarterback uncomfortable it makes their job very easy. The very young secondary played very well but, players like Carlton Davis needs to clean up giving up first downs on holds and pass interference calls on big downs. Davis negated Minter’s interception of Newton because of a defensive holding call. Vernon Hargreaves lead all defensive players with 12 tackles and the final tackle was the one that sealed the victory.
Winner: Vernon Hargreaves
The Buccaneers defense has been notoriously bad in recent years. The infusion of Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme this year is bearing fruits.
Photo credit: buccaneers.com