Former Buccaneer Aqib Talib will lead the Denver Broncos into Tampa Bay tomorrow for what could prove to be the biggest game of the season for the Bucs. If Tampa Bay were able to win this game, it could serve as the springboard launch that fans have been waiting for. Accomplishing this feat will be no easy task for the Buccaneers against the Super Bowl champions who look to be even better right now than they were when they hoisted the Lombardi trophy. How can the Buccaneers win this game? Let’s dig in.
Buccaneer Offensive Keys to Victory
- For the love of Pete, run the football. Head Coach Dirk Koetter admitted this week that his play calling has to change for the Buccaneers to win this season. Last year, the Bucs had a nicely balanced attack, and Coach Koetter needs to get back to that. Even with RB Doug Martin out, and RB Charles Sims needing to dance less and hit the hole more, the only way to beat Denver will be to have a healthy dose of runs on first down. If there is a slightly weaker spot on the Denver D, it’s found by running the football up the middle.
- Run the screen game. Denver is a defense that likes the blitz, and there will be plenty of opportunities to catch them on it. It will be up to Jameis to catch it and switch into screen passes when he does. Jameis has shown the ability to check in and out of plays effectively. He’ll need to do that to combat Von Miller chasing him around all day.
- Execute, execute, execute. This really is the name of the game for the Bucs on both sides of the ball, but especially the offensive side. There have been far too many opportunities left on the table in the Bucs’ two losses. Against the reigning champs, they’ll need to cash them all in. Dropped passes and overthrown footballs can’t happen against arguably the best team in football.
Buccaneers Defensive Keys to Victory
- Keep that QB on his back. It’s imperative that Tamba Bay rediscover the pass rush that lead the league in sacks during the preseason. As even casual fans know, hitting first year quarterbacks is always a good idea. That’s how you get them to make mistakes, and the Bucs would benefit greatly by earning themselves some turnovers in this game. QB Trevor Siemian has looked composed and very effective when upright. The Bucs can’t let him stay there.
- Limit big plays. Believe it or not, the Buccaneer defense has looked much better than its stats this season. They’ve won most of the plays so far, but have had huge breakdowns in enough plays to lose football games. Broken and busted coverages, poor tackling, and miscommunication just can’t be allowed against the Broncos.
- Take advantage of a Denver team that doesn’t like facing the 4-3. It’s the same story in reverse as the Buccaneer aversion to facing the 3-4. Denver doesn’t see a ton of 4-3, and there will be individual technique errors by Denver players. The Bucs have to make those errors by Denver into big plays on defense.
Players to Watch
- TE Cameron Brate has been coming on strong recently. His Chemistry with QB Jameis Winston has been improving, and he is emerging as a legitimate red zone threat. Jameis has always loved throwing to tight ends, so look for that relationship to continue to flourish. The matchup against fantastic Denver linebackers this week will be telling regarding his potential to be great.
- DT Gerald McCoy had a play last week that resembled Hulk Hogan ripping off his shirt, when he ripped through an offensive lineman with each arm and evaded another block before making an incredible tackle for a loss. Gerald is in midseason form right now, and he’s making incredible plays despite double and triple teams. You could just watch him without looking at any other player and be highly entertained.
- K Roberto Aguayo is running out of chances. At this point, there is a ton of pressure on the second round draft pick to produce. NFL kickers get paid to make kicks, and he has not been making enough. It’s time to put up or shut up, because patience within his coaching staff is palpably thin.
The Denver Broncos will get everything they can handle from an upstart Bucs team. The game stays close the whole way, but the Buccaneers go down to a Broncos team that is simply more developed. The Tampa Bay safeties have another horrendous day which costs them the game, and after the game, there will be rumblings about finding help at safety. Broncos win, 35-31.