Keys to the Game: Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Thursday night’s Buccaneers loss to the Chicago Bears was disappointing for many reasons. A blown lead, poor pass blocking, no defensive adjustments, and Tom Brady not knowing the down in crunch time. Most importantly, the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints are now tied for the division lead.

This week doesn’t get any easier, as the Aaron Rodgers and the undefeated Green Bay Packers come to town. This game will be one of the toughest on the schedule. But fear not, the Packers do have exploitable weaknesses. Here are the keys to the game for week six, Buccaneers vs Packers.

Force Predictability

The Packers offense is one of, if not the best in the NFL through five weeks. They rank first in DVOA, second in yards per game, and first in points per game. Aaron Rodgers is tearing up the league, with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Packers haven’t necessarily played a powerhouse though. Their toughest game came against the Saints, who barely squeaked out a win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Besides that, the Green Bay has beaten Atlanta, Detroit, and Minnesota. All league bottom feeders.

This Buccaneers defense will be their toughest matchup yet. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Davante Adams will likely return after suffering a hamstring injury.

I’m not worried about any other receiving options though. If I’m Todd Bowles, I’m putting Davis in press man all game, and bracketing a safety to Adams side. Prove that Alan Lazard and Robert Tonya aren’t a fluke.

The loss of Vita Vea hurts the run defense, but I think the Buccaneers can stay atop the league with a rotation of players. To beat Rodgers, you need to force third and long. That means shutting down Aaron Jones.

This game will likely be a shootout, but Rodgers doesn’t have a plethora of weapons like the Buccaneers. You can force him to make mistakes with a long down and distance. Stay sound in run fits, harass receivers in press man, and force Rodgers to make a throw he would rather avoid.

Penalties, Penalties, Penalties

Year after year, the concept of penalties seems to be a recurring topic. It’s not a new issue with Bruce Arians though. In fact, it dates all the way back to the Raheem Morris days. The undisciplined and young Buccaneers squad needed a change of pace, so “toe on the line” Greg Schiano was brought in to correct it.

Spoiler alert, it didn’t work.

Fast forward a little over half a decade and penalties are still an issue. If you have a chance to beat the Packers, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot.

I understand that the officiating on Thursday night was downright atrocious, but there were definitely some mental lapses that just can’t happen.

Personal fouls on Mike Evans and Ryan Jensen, holding, false starts, illegal shifts…You get the point. I wish I could tell you the source of these infractions, if it’s not coaching, than what is it? Lack of preparation?

I don’t care what needs to be done to clean it up, just do it.

No Risk it No Biscuit

Many fans had gripes with Bruce Arians’ decision making last week. Choosing to go for it on fourth down on your own 19, but choosing to kick inside the 10 yard line will result in some scrutiny.

In fact, the Buccaneers made the two worst analytical mistakes in week five, which likely could have won them the game.

This team has long ignored the analytical side of football, and it shows on the field. To beat the Packers, you need to STAY aggressive. We know Arians will go for the deep shot, but keeping your offense on the field by going for it on fourth and short will give Rodgers less time to put up points.

The Buccaneers are still trying to find their identity on offense. Todd Bowles has created a defensive juggernaut that is effective at blitzing and locking down opposing wide receivers going deep. They have their issues, but Byron Leftwich has failed to give Tom Brady an identity to work with.

Are you a power running team, dink and dunk, or air raid offense? We know Arians has developed the latter, but it seems they are trying to mold all of the above.

Aaron Rodgers and the undefeated Packers can be beaten with stout defense, a reduction in penalties, and an aggressive offensive mindset. Go get it done.

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The Deck Bar and Grille at Isla
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