After a 12-year playoff drought, Buccaneers fans get to watch their team play in January.
During the 2008 playoffs, they hosted and eventually lost to the soon to be world champion, New York Giants. If you’re going to lose it might as well be to the team that won the whole thing.
As fate would have it, the Buccaneers get to keep their streak alive of now the third wild card appearance in a row facing an NFC East opponent. This time it’s the Washington Football team. The same team that came into Raymond James Stadium in 2005 and turned 120 yards of total offense into a playoff win.
With Saturday’s game approaching, it’s time to take our first PLAYOFF look at the opponent for the 2021 Wild Card. The Washington Football Team.
Here’s How The Football Team Measures Up
Ron Rivera’s team barely got back a few starters from injury. Though some of them played through the pain last Sunday their status for the wildcard is up in the air.
- Thomas Davis LB (Out / Knee) against Dallas. DNP as of Tuesday and is Questionable
- Alex Smith QB (Calf) played but DNP as of Tuesday and is Questionable
- Antonio Gibson (Toe) played but DNP as of Tuesday and is Questionable
- Terry McClaurin (Ankle) played but DNP as of Tuesday and is Questionable
- Brandon Scherf (Shoulder) played and has been limited in practice
- Rush Yards/Gm 26th (100.7) / Pass Yards/Gm 25th (216.6)
- Rush Touchdowns/Gm 13th (1.1) / Pass Touchdowns/Gm 29th (1.0)
- % of Rush Plays Called 24th (38.06%) / % of Pass Plays Called 9th (61.94%)
The Football Team’s offensive prowess isn’t anything spectacular. Looking at their 7-9 record it shouldn’t be too surprising. In very rare circumstances, teams with a sub .500 record are not likely to make the payoffs. But thanks to the Division winner setup, the Football team has limped their way into postseason play.
Not for nothing, Alex Smith is in the top half of passing completion percentage at 66.7%. His 29th ranked 6.3 yards per play may contribute to the success rate.
In the backfield, Antonio Gibson and J.D McKissic provide a dual-threat attack that should keep the Buccaneers linebackers rolling from their toes to their heels.
Perhaps not the lone positive, but the brightest spot is second-year receiver Terry McClaurin.
He’s 17th in receptions (87), 13th in receiving yards (1,113) with 486 of those after the catch. He is also 12th in targets with 134. The guy gets open.
Seventh year player Logan Thomas has emerged as a top target as well. He’s third in targets and receptions for all tight ends. This team has players who can get open and win the battle for the ball. The Buccaneers secondary is going to get tested.
- Rush Yards Allowed/Gm 13th (112.8) / Pass Yards Allowed/Gm 2nd (191.8)
- Rush Touchdowns Allowed/Gm 12th (0.9) / Pass Touchdowns Allowed/Gm 4th (1.3)
- Sacks/Gm 6th (2.9) / Turnover Margin 24th (-0.2)
There is one thing we know for sure. This defense is stout.
Washington’s defense is top 13 in key rushing defense statistics and top four in passing defense.
With Bookends like Chase Young and Montez Sweat, opposing tackles have been struggling to keep their quarterbacks upright. They combine for 16 Sacks and 22 tackles for loss on the season. Including six forced fumbles.
Linebacker Jon Bostic and safety Kamren Curl have been tackling everyone in sight. They are both in the top 15 of total tackles for their respective positions.
What We Might Expect
If there is one thing that Todd Bowles defense is susceptible to it’s the quick pass. Something Alex Smith is prone to do out of habit dating back to his days at Utah with Urban Meyer.
The most blitz defense in the league is going to have to adjust their approach here to account for an offense that won’t give them much time to get to the quarterback. If they aren’t successful here, they can expect to be “dink’d and dunked” on for the entire 60 minutes, and frustrations could get the better of the linebacking core.
Offensively, Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs will need to recognize that they have probably never faced a pass rush like Washington’s. If they don’t raise their game to playoff levels then quarterback Tom Brady might not make it out of this game on his feet.
We can fully expect this game to be a defensive bout. I am not a betting man, but if I were I’d be hammering the ‘Under’.
Stay tuned to Bucsreport.com for Nick Sitro’s “Keys to the Game”