Keys to the Game: Buccaneers vs Panthers


The Tom Brady honeymoon quickly came to end after a depressing week one loss to the New Orleans Saints. Penalties and dumb decisions were the name of the game for the Buccaneers. Fortunately, we still have 15 weeks of football remaining. In week two, the Panthers come to town after a 34-30 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Can the Buccaneers get back on track and secure a victory?


Stop Christian McCaffrey

This is probably the most obvious key to victory all season, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Carolina’s offense runs through Christian McCaffrey, if you can shut him down, the offense falls apart.

Last week, McCaffrey ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He also added three receptions for 38 yards. I have confidence the Buccaneers front seven can shut down McCaffrey though.

In 2018, Tampa Bay’s defense held him to only 68 yards on the ground and 42 through the air. Barely 100 all purpose yards in two games.

Teddy Bridgewater does not air out the ball, and his stats reflected that in 2019. Stop McCaffrey, and you stop the Panthers offense.

Get the Passing Offense in a Groove

Last week was a story of inconsistent football for Tom Brady. On the first drive of the game, Brady hit Chris Godwin with a beautiful touch pass for a gain of 29 yards. However, at the start of the second quarter, Brady threw an ill advised pass to the inside shoulder, that resulted in a pick six.

You can’t put all the blame on Brady though. Donovan Smith struggled mightily as the game progressed, as Brady was sacked three times and hit on seven occasions. This offense will only go as far as the offensive line, and they better get their act together against Carolina.

The Panthers front four is no joke. Brian Burns, Kawann Short, Derrick Brown, and Yetur Gross-Matos man the trenches. If Donovan Smith can’t improve, the Buccaneers may need to look at a replacement plan soon.

The Panthers secondary is incredibly weak after the departure of James Bradberry. Troy Pride Jr. was drafted as a replacement, but if I’m Bruce Arians, I’m giving him his “welcome to the NFL” game.

Penalties, Penalties, Penalties

Another year, another team that makes stupid penalties and mistakes. How often do we have to say “the Bucs beat themselves today” before you want to pull you hair out.

An off-sides on fourth and two, a muffed kickoff return, and blown assignments will get you killed every week, especially against the reigning NFC South Champions.

The Buccaneers need to cut down on penalties, and stop beating themselves. If they don’t, week two is going to be a nail biter, when in reality, the Buccaneers have the talent to win with ease.

I expect Tom Brady and Bruce Arians to fix many of the mistakes we saw on Sunday. A pandemic filled offseason with a lack of preseason games will effect any quarterback in a new system. This is not an excuse, just a fact.

Look for the Buccaneers to rebound with a fire burning, after a disappointing week one, to even their record at 1-1.

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