The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off of their first loss of the season, falling to the Los Angeles Rams 34-24. This week the team travels to New England for a Sunday night showdown against quarterback Tom Brady’s former team. Let’s take a look at some things to watch for this weekend.
Tom Brady’s Return
In 2020 when Brady decided to leave the Patriots and join the Buccaneers it put a shock throughout the football world. It ultimately paid off as he ended the season hosting his 7th Lombardi Trophy.
Coming off a loss to NFC contender in the Rams, Brady will look to have a bounce-back win in his former stomping grounds. He will need only 68 passing yards to break the all-time record for career passing yards. What better way than to do it against his former team?
The Patriots are allowing the second-fewest passing yards so far into the 2021 season. If the Buccaneers end up winning this Sunday, it won’t be just a win against a 1-2 team, it will be against a top 5 defense (according to profootballreeference.com).
Tight end Rob Gronkowski will also have his first return to New England this Sunday, he currently leads all tight ends in touchdowns with four. Look for Brady to target Gronkowski when the team enters the red zone.
The offense will also have wideout Antonio Brown back this week, as he was just activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. This can end up as a bounce-back week for the defending champions.
Can the Defense Stop the Bleeding?
As it stands today the Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have the 27th ranked defense. That is far removed from the play from the 2020 playoff run. The team has allowed a league-high 1,015 yards passing as well as a league-high 9 passing touchdowns. That has allowed every team to hang around and score points. Last week it finally cost the team a loss.
The Patriots are currently starting a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones. He has shown promise but has only tossed two touchdowns while throwing three interceptions in the first three games. If the Tampa Bay defense allows Jones to move the ball through the air and score points, they could have a bigger defensive issue than previously believed.
The team has signed former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman this week but he might not get much play Sunday night. Regardless of what happens defensively, help is on the way.
The Coaching Battle
Head Coach Bruce Arians finally earned his first Super Bowl win as the head coach last season. This week he will be facing off against Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. Coach Belichick has been as consistent a coach as any, in any sport. He has led his teams to a record 31 playoff wins, 9 Super Bowl appearances, as well as 6 Super Bowl wins.
Bruce Arians is a very successful head coach in his own right. This season he is on a mission to accomplish a feat last accomplished by coach Belichick. Repeating as Super Bowl champions.
Even as the defending champions, winning this week will be a huge boost in confidence for the Buccaneers. Coach Belichick has historically proven to gameplan better than any and has a knack for taking away what teams want to do on offense. It will be an interesting watch to see how Belichick decides to defend against his former quarterback Tom Brady.
Coach Arians offense has proven to be prolific against most defenses in his time in Tampa. Even more so with Tom Brady behind center. This will be a great chance to prove that against one of the greatest defensive minds in football history.
Sunday Night Showdown
This weekend’s primetime game will be heavily focused on the Brady vs Belichick storyline.
On the field look for Brady to break the all-time record early on. When the team is in the RedZone he will look to keep his tight end Gronkowski rolling.
Can the defense stop the pass this week against the rookie quarterback? If not it could be a closer game than anticipated.
Finally, can Bruce Arians get a convincing win against arguably the greatest coach in all of sports? If so the team has a light schedule ahead and can get this season rolling.