Keys to the Game: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off an embarrassing 38-3 loss on Sunday Night Football. The New Orleans Saints dominated in every facet of the game, and have taken control of the NFC South…for now.

The Buccaneers NEED to get back on track and beat a mediocre Carolina Panthers team. Here is how they can get it done.

It Starts With Coaching

Last week’s game plan was, how do I say this, not good against the Saints. Todd Bowles elected to play in soft zone, basically allowing New Orleans to play to their strengths.

On offense, Byron Leftwich called one of the worst games of his young career. Scheming deep route after deep route, he never allowed Tom Brady to get into a rhythm. You know the left side of the line was going to struggle, you need to at least chip a tight end.

This week, the Buccaneers need to get back to what they do well. On defense, blitz, blitz. Send Devin White into the A gap, move pieces along the defensive line. This team just can’t get pressure with four, so stop scheming plays with only three or for rushers.

On offense, I liked the commitment to first down passes, but you can’t keep taking 15 yard deep shots if it’s not working. Let Brady thrive in his comfort zone, short and quick passes to get ahead of the chains. With no Ali Marpet, Brady will need to get the ball out quickly. These long-developing routes only work with good protection.

Get Your Stars Involved

It’s a shocker that I even have to say this, but this offense needs to get its stars involved in the offense. Give more targets to Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Chris Godwin. I’ve seen enough screens to Rob Gronkowski to know he just doesn’t have the legs anymore.

Last Sunday also exposed the running back room. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones are solid downhill runners, but they are liabilities in the passing game. I wouldn’t be upset if Jones never gets targeted in a game again, he can’t make anyone miss in space, and it just doesn’t make sense given the wide receivers on this team.

Press Man Coverage

I covered this a bit in my first point, but zone coverage just doesn’t compliment the strengths of this defensive back unit. Carlton Davis, Jordan Whitehead, and Sean Murphy-Bunting thrive in man coverage. Their big and physical play allows them to blanket receivers, and force quarterbacks to hold onto the football.

Of course, Teddy Bridgewater is no where close to the player than Drew Brees is from an intelligence standpoint, but any quarterback will carve up your defense if you sit in zone all night and only rush four.

The Buccaneers got crushed in their biggest game of the season, but Sunday is their chance to get back on track, and continue their playoff push in mid November.