Any week is a good week coming off a much needed division win. Knowing Bruce Arians, however, that celebration will need to be brief. The only way to build momentum is to string together wins and that will start when the Buccaneers take a trip west to Mile High Stadium. Let’s take a look at the Week 3 opponent, the Denver Broncos.
How the Broncos Measure Up
If you were paying attention last Sunday, you probably noticed a frightening trend sweeping the league. Football is a contact sport so a few bumps and bruises are to be expected. Though it was a far worse outcome and it hit some teams hard in week 2. The Broncos were one of those teams.
Key Injuries to Denver from Sunday:
- Drew Lock (Shoulder) Out Several Weeks
- Courtland Sutton (Knee) Out for Season
- AJ Bouye (Shoulder) Sent to IR
Other names like Bradley Chubb, Mark Barron, Philip Lindsay, Davontae Harris, and DeMarcus Walker will all miss some time, or be limited at best.
Missing your starting quarterback is going to make things difficult against a Bucs team who’s riding high off a win. For Fangio, his defensive quarterback was hurt before the season started. Von Miller, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is out for the year with after dislocating his ankle.
Next Man Up
As for the actual quarterback, Jeff Driskel came in for a hurt Lock and completed just north of 50 percent of his passes last week against Pittsburgh. Despite that, he tossed in two touchdowns to Noah Fant and Melvin Gordon against a very stout Steelers defense.
Driskel will be without star wide receiver Courtland Sutton this week and for the rest of 2020. That leaves two rookie receivers in Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler to pick up the slack. Second year tight end Noah Fant has been playing very well and should continue to be a solid outlet.
What We Might Expect
The 2020 Broncos are looking fairly close to the 2019 version of themselves on offense. An early quarterback carousel run by a committee approach. Stick with what you know?
One item that may change going into Sunday is their 60% pass tendency. If Philip Lindsay is healthy, it’s reasonable to expect the team to lean on him and Gordon. At least that’s what the best rush defense in 2019 is hoping for (Hint: It was Tampa Bay). Tampa Bay is also allowing the eight worst in passing defense and the Broncos running backs are both capable of producing through the air as well.
If not, maybe a full week behind center will help improve Driskel’s completion percentage and gain some chemistry with his very talented, but green, receiving core. Noah Fant is on fire out the gate and it doesn’t matter who throws to him.
Through two weeks and two different quarterbacks, Fant has posted 9 receptions, 138 yards, and 2 Touchdowns off 11 targets.
Defensively this team is going to have to depend on several backups to step up their game. Currently, the Broncos defense is 24th in pass defense, and 14th in rush defense while missing multiple key starters. It’s going to be tested against the Buccaneers offense that will have all players healthy for Sunday, barring no practice setbacks.
If history has taught Buccaneers coaches and fans anything, it’s not to under estimate a team with their backup quarterback under center. This team will need to reduce it’s mistakes to help avoid an upset in the thin air atmosphere of Mile High Stadium.