After a stress inducing 31-29 victory, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to build on their winning ways. They now look to welcome division rival Atlanta into Raymond James Stadium after their humiliating 32-6 defeat to Philadelphia. Keep in mind, just because the Eagles dominated this team doesn’t mean the Bucs will. After all, these are all professional athletes. Here’s what you can look for when the Buccaneers host the Falcons in week two.
Welcome to the NFC
The Falcons have a new coach this year who the Buccaneers will face off with for the first time. Arthur Smith joins Atlanta from Tennessee where he served as their offensive coordinator. He is well known as a guy who likes to utilize motion and give defenses a lot to think about. He also helped revitalize the career of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill and build a strong running game with Derrick Henry.
It’s unclear how much of his prior success will translate to his new situation, but the relative unknown of this matchup might make the Falcons hard to prepare for.
Big Name Offenders
Most Buccaneers fans are familiar with some of the stars that Atlanta has featured over the years. Matt Ryan is still a very good quarterback, as you would expect from a former MVP. Calvin Ridley emerged last year with nearly 1,400 receiving yards. Even rookie Kyle Pitts is a big name playmaker who many are familiar with after playing his college career at the University of Florida.
These are all big time talents at the NFL level. And even though the Falcons overall roster leaves a lot to be desired, these are guys that can hurt any defense in the league. Keying in on these guys and not letting them take over in the passing game will be top priority if the Buccaneers want to win this weekend.
I have to be honest, even I had to look up who a few of the starters on this Falcons defense were. Guys like Erik Harris, Jacob Tuioti-Marinier, and even former Bucs defensive end Steven Means are all guys that I forgot….existed. To be frank with my assessment, these are guys who wouldn’t normally be starting on most NFL rosters.
The Falcons are below average on paper at all three units of their defense. This means that the Buccaneers should be able to run or pass the ball at will. However, just like with their offense the Falcons do have some big name stars on defense. Grady Jarrett is a pro bowl caliber defensive tackle. Deion Jones is a very good linebacker with some of the best coverage skills at his position. Beyond that there isn’t much to write home about with this unit.
Special Special Teams
It’s no secret that the Buccaneers have struggled with special teams in the past. So much so that addressing this issue was a top priority in the offseason. We will see if their efforts pay off this week.
The Falcons have two of the best specialists at their positions. Younghoe Koo is one of the best kickers in the league. He made 95% of his field goal attempts last season and is currently 2/2 this year. Cordarrell Patterson is one of the greatest kick off returners in NFL history. He is currently 13th all time in kickoff return yards and 2nd all time in kickoff return touchdowns. Even rookie Avery Williams projects as an outstanding put returner.
This is the matchup the Falcons have to win to be able to beat the Buccaneers this weekend.