Through five weeks of the 2020 season, the Buccaneers run defense has looked just as solid as last season. The same cannot be said with defending opposing running backs coming out of the back field in the passing game. Here is a look at opposing running backs have been a pain in Tampa Bay’s side to start the season.
Week 1: Alvin Kamara
Five catches, 51 yards, 1 TD- The Buccaneers of course did an excellent job shutting Alvin Kamara down in the run-game. However, the Saints were able to continue drives thanks to Kamara picking up first downs through the passing game.
Week 2: Christian McCaffrey
Four catches, 29 yards, 2 total TDs- Christian McCaffrey sustained an injury this game that prevented him from doing further damage. Yet he was still very effective when he was in the game. Tampa Bay probably had their best game defending the pass in this one.
Week 3: Melvin Gordon/ Royce Freeman
Six combined catches, 43 yards- Tampa Bay allowed a big 28 yard play to Royce Freeman to allow the Broncos to score before the half. Other than that, they did well against Denver’s 2nd and 3rd string quarterbacks and were able to win this one easily.
Week 4: Austin Ekeler/Justin Jackson/Josh Kelley
Six combined catches, 40 yards- Austin Ekeler was injured in the first half of this game to prevent likely further damage. Backup Josh Kelley did a pretty nice job filling in. Catching all three of his targets, two of which picked up first downs.
Week 5: David Montgomery
Seven catches, 30 yards- Though the catch total is high, David Montgomery did most of his damage on a 17 yard wheel route to get the Bears down to the goal-line on a big 3rd down play. These big plays have to be prevented in order to win close games, and the Buccaneers were unable to do that in Week Five.
The Buccaneers just seem to bit slightly out of position at times. We see guys like Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett covering running backs 15-20 yards downfield. I trust Todd Bowles to make the corrections needed, and they will need to do so quickly. One of the best receiving running backs in the entire league comes to town in week six, the Packers’ Aaron Jones.