Keys to the Game: Buccaneers at Denver Broncos

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers evened their record to 1-1 last week thanks to a 31-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Tom Brady was only hit once and Christian McCaffrey was limited to only 88 all-purpose yards.

This week, the Buccaneers head to Denver to take on the injury riddled Broncos. With no Von Miller, Drew Lock, or Courtland Sutton, the Buccaneers are projected to take home a victory on Sunday.

Get Chris Godwin Going

The Buccaneers offense looked a bit out of sync last week without star receiver Chris Godwin. Tampa Bay receivers dropped five passes, two of which should have been touchdowns.

Of course, Mike Evans had a big day with 104 yards, but there wasn’t a solid number two option behind him. I expect Godwin to have a big day in the slot, as the Broncos rank 25th in average passing yards given up per game.

In 2019, Denver was 4th in defensive efficiency against slot wide receivers, but that was mostly due to the elite play of Chris Harris Jr, who has since joined the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Buccaneers passing offense, when efficient, flows through Chris Godwin. If Tom Brady can connect with him early, it’s going to be a long day for the Broncos secondary.

Use the Pass, to Set Up the Run

We often hear NFL coaches pounding the table for establishing the run. The reality is, this type of thinking applied to the game 20-30 years ago. In the modern NFL, it’s statistically more effective to use the pass to establish the running game.

What do I mean by this? Just look back to week two. On first down plays, the Buccaneers averaged 9.2 yards passing on first down through three quarters. Compare that to just 2.6 yards of rushing offense, and you can see why fans are screaming for Byron Leftwich to stop running the ball on every first down.

Passing early and often also sets up your offense for better situations on 2nd and 3rd down. A 2nd and two is a much better scenario to run than 2nd and nine.

It’s not complicated, pass the ball on first down.

Key in on Melvin Gordon

The Broncos offense will feature Melvin Gordon and….that’s it. No really. Besides the injuries mentioned above, Phillip Lindsey is also doubtful and Jerry Jeudy is questionable due to a rib injury. K.J. Hamler is a promising rookie, but I’m not ready to appoint him as a wide receiver one.

Like last Sunday, the Buccaneers defense would be wise to key Devin White on Melvin Gordon. Gordon ranks 12th in the NFL in rushing yards with 148, but his efficiency metrics tell a different story.

His DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) ranks 30th (-7.3%) in the league. Basically, he is worse than league average in similar situations when adjusting for defense.

To make a long story short, the Broncos have no offensive weapons to keep you up at night. Melvin Gordon is a big name, but he’s hardly anything to write home about so far this season. Devin White will be tasked with stopping him, and if he does, Jeff Driskel is going to have a long day.

The Deck Bar and Grille at Isla
The Deck Bar and Grille at Isla

 

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