The Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved to 2-1 on the season after a 28-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. The defense continues to dominate, while the offense improves week in and and week out.
This week, the Los Angeles Chargers come to town with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. Here is how the Buccaneers can secure a victory and maintain their spot atop the NFC South.
Get the Tight Ends Involved
After a week of questions surrounding the target share of the tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard put up season highs in receptions and yards. With Chris Godwin out (and possibly Scotty Miller) the tight ends will need to show up big time in order to disperse the vacated targets.
Chargers linebackers Kyzir White, Denzel Perryman, and Kenneth Murray Jr. have been liabilities in coverage through the first three games.
In week two, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce caught nine balls for 90 yards and a touchdown. He abused the linebacking core play in and play out, and it is a matchup that the Buccaneers should exploit on offense, especially if Scotty Miller can’t go Sunday.
Pressure Up the Middle
Todd Bowles is a blitzing machine. So far, the Buccaneers rank second in blitz percentage at almost 45% of plays. Against the Jeff Driskel led Broncos, Bowles opted to rush linebackers up the middle, taking advantage of a weak interior line for Denver.
The story should be much in the same this week as well. Right guard Trai Turner is questionable to play on Sunday and center Dan Feeney and left guard Forrest Lamp are pedestrian at best.
The Chargers offense has been mediocre at best and they have yet to put up 21 points in a game. Rookie Herbert is going to be in for a long day with the exotic blitzes that Todd Bowles uses.
Second Half Offense
For two weeks in a row now, the Buccaneers offense has come out of the locker room cold. Besides the Leonard Fournette run to seal the game against Carolina, the Buccaneers have only scored six points on offense in the second have over the last two weeks.
Against better teams, that can’t happen.
It’s not like Byron Lefwich has gone turtle mode like last year against the New York Giants. In fact, the Buccaneers actually threw more on first down against the Broncos in the second half than they ran.
But as we all know, penalties killed significant plays and early drives. In order to keep improving, the Buccaneers offense needs to prove that they can stay consistent throughout the second half, if they can do that, I’ll feel much better about the unit moving forward.
I expect the Buccaneers to win easily against a team with missing pieces on defense, and an offense that has yet to score over 20 points. Tampa Bay’s defense will create opportune turnovers to set up the offense, and the Buccaneers will ride off into the sunset with a 3-1 record on the season.