After coming back home to the Bay after a long trip from the Rockies, the 2-1 Buccaneers return home to Raymond James to take on the 1-2 Los Angeles Chargers. Sitting atop the NFC South Division after Week 3 isn’t something this team has been able to see for awhile. We can expect to have high spirits coming into Sunday.
They’re going to need it.
Don’t let the 1-2 record fool you. This Chargers team is about as well rounded as you would like. Despite starting a rookie quarterback, the Chargers have played every opponent tough and right down to the final minute. That’s to include the defending Champion Chiefs who they narrowly lost to in a 23-20 overtime thriller. With the Chargers looking to avoid a 1-3 start, the Buccaneers better be ready.
Here’s How the Chargers Measure Up
Let’s start with the good news for the Buccaneers. The Chargers are going to be without some key defenders in this game.
- Chris Harris (Out)
- Derwin James (Out)
- Melvin Ingram (Out)
All three of those players are impact defenders who can drastically change the course of the game at any time. Thankfully, none are going to be a factor come Sunday afternoon.
Here’s some of the bad news. They still have some scary talent to game plan for. The NFL’s richest defensive player Joey Bosa has been earning his paycheck since week one. Recording at least one Sack per game and is 2nd in the league in Quarterback pressures (14). Rookie Right Tackle Tristan Wirfs has faced a murderers row of pass rushers and overall has held up. Look for a gritty battle between him and Bosa on Sunday, but I do not expect the Bucs to not Wirfs some help.
The Chargers have a talented rookie of their own in Kenneth Murray. The Chargers liked the talent of the Oklahoma Sooner so much they traded up with the Patriots in the 2020 NFL Draft to take him at 23rd overall. He’s been a day one starter and is starting to make his name known.
Two time All Pro Casey Hayward is still on this team and he’s done his job against the Bucs in the past. The last time Mike Evans faced off against Casey Hayward in shadow coverage, Evans posted a scoreless 3 catch for 38 yards game. It’s going to be tough for the Buccaneers passing attack to get in to rhythm if Evans can’t win against Hayward yet again.
What We Might Expect
With both teams trying to find their identity with new Quarterbacks and no Preseason to properly gel, they both might be hitting their stride at the same time.
Keenan Allen is getting peppered with targets which means he’s finding ways of getting open often. Mike Williams is a BIG target himself who manages to be a deep threat as well. Hunter Henry will is no scrub either as he’s averaged just over 5 catches a game for 206 yards. His Endzone dance party will be contingent upon getting away from Lavonte David, which every Tight End thus far has been challenged with and come up short.
Expect Carlton Davis to be all over Keenan Allen. Davis has taken a major leap year over year and has yet to give up a even an average game against an opposing teams best receiver.
If the pass game flounders, the Chargers have a great 1-2 punch at Running Back with Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley. And Anthony Lynn loves to run the ball. That being said, the Buccaneers are coming off a #1 Rush Defense campaign in 2019. I don’t expect Ekeler to try his luck up the middle against Vea and Suh. Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul will be challenged with Ekelers elite agility and cut ability on the outside.
Defensive Coordinator likely see’s a rookie Quarterback who isn’t afraid to tuck and run. Nightmares of Daniel Jones from 2019 should be all over this weeks game plan against Justin Herbert. Combinations of contain and pressure will be plentiful to try and fluster the young Quarterback.
The Chargers must not be underestimated by Coach Arians and krewe. They have a lot at stake sitting below .500 and will come ready to play. Bank on that.