5 Things To Watch Against The Vikings

September 23rd, 2017

Revival game for Sims? Dirk Koetter talks T.J. Ward, and more.

Joe’s avoiding the obvious here and shooting for the more though-provoking with kickoff now just 24 hours away.

1)  T.J. Ward: On SiriusXM NFL Radio today, winning head coach Dirk Koetter talked about new safety T.J. Ward and emphasized that he’s been a “quick study,” though Koetter made it clear Keith Tandy and Chris Conte are starting safeties. Koetter’s tone when talking about Ward really made Joe feel like there’d be a lot more Ward on Sunday. The Bucs actually used Tandy, Conte and Ward quite a bit together against the Bears, with Ward playing 44 percent of all defensive snaps, per Pro Football Reference. Tandy was at 56 percent with Conte at 89. Ward played his share of linebacker in Denver, and with Kwon Alexander out, Joe expects Ward to get plenty of time alongside rookie Kendell Beckwith in Minnesota.

2) Blitzing And More Blitzing: Good chance Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith is embarrased by how Vikings QB Case Keenum (yes, he’s starting) carved up Smith’s defense while quarterbacking the Rams last September at the Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway. It was ugly. The Bucs didn’t exactly come after Keenum with a barrage of blitzes. Something must change. Look at what Keenum did versus the Steelers last week. Per BSPN data, Keenum was 2-of-8 passing for 39 yards when pressured. Dirk Koetter keeps saying he would put his cornerbacks tandem up against any in the NFL. Well, let’s see them man up in single coverage with the Bucs blitzing.

3) Ali Marpet – Silent count was the focus all week long for Ali Marpet, who is one game into his transition to center. The Vikings’ dome is closed and loud, which is why Koetter had the music thumping through practices at truly extreme volumes this week. Seriously, Joe expected complaints from One Buc Palace neighbors. Will Marpet be up to the challenge?

4) Bernard Reedy – The Bucs’ new No. 1 punt returner bounced around practice squads since 2014. Now, Reedy is a 25-year-old with one game of experience. Joe’s seen plenty of young players struggle on the road fielding punts, one of the toughest skills in the game. The Bucs are going with Reedy over solid Adam Humphries for a better spark at punt returner. But Reedy’s only going to keep the gig if he can protect the football.

5) Charles Sims – Joe’s going to skip the hit-the-hole jokes and the dancing one-liners. Simply stated, Sims had a rough opening Sunday, especially compared to what he showed in preseason. Also, Sims fumbled deep in Bears territory, which was ugly stuff. But Koetter is a Sims guy, and a game on the turf against a Vikings team with a stout secondary feels like it’s made for a Sims revival. Sims better make the most of his chances or his role is sure to be diminished — and Doug Martin’s agent will be smiling.

20 Responses to “5 Things To Watch Against The Vikings”

  1. Piratic Says:

    Great stuff Joe!

  2. Buc4Lyfe79 Says:

    Seriously? Ward was on the field for 44% of our D’s snaps last week? That is a very welcome and reassuring surprise, stay healthy now. GO BUCS!!!

  3. Guzzie Says:

    Can’t wait till we get a decent RB

  4. Stanglassman Says:

    There has been some good pieces written about how the Bucs are using Ward as a 3rd safety to match up against TEs.

  5. Rod Munch Says:

    Good write-up Joe.

    I’d like to see Mike Smith blitz some more, which he did during that winning strech last year, but then seemed to back off of late in the year. David is the best pass rusher on this team and while I agree with picking your spots to send him, the Bucs need to be sending him more often. Perhaps we’ll see that some more in the coming games.

    Also good point on Marpet – I had not thought of that yet, this his is first road/dome game ever as a center and it’s against a very good defense.

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Great points on all of the above Joe. Might be one more to add to the list: LBs. With Kwon out & Beckwith moving to MLB, not sure if Glanton, Lynch or Bond will be at SAM. Also sounds like TJ Ward plays some SAM also. Expect that who’s out there will be important because of Dalvin Cook … he burned the Saints on 5 runs around right side for 76 yds. Bucs did a great job of containment last week, so here’s hoping we repeat it this week.

  7. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    Joe, I think your #2 point should have been #1. I’d like to see a lot of A-gap blitzes to get pressure in his face and make him move into the waiting arms of Spence and Ayers. Corners can only cover man to man so long, so we’ve got to get through to at least make him move his platform. Let the chess match begin!

  8. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    This will be Marpets biggest challenge, going up against the crowd noise. Joe, if you’re reading this, I have a question. I would think that a great way to combat the crowd noise would be for Winston to set a predetermined time on the play clock for the ball to be snapped. Once he calls the play he could end his call by saying 5 or 3 or 7 or whatever time left on the clock that he wants the ball to be snapped. Do teams do this? Sounds like a great idea to me but maybe I’m missing something, or maybe this is how it’s done. Any insight!

  9. Crockett69 Says:

    Great Job Joe! I do believe that you hit the nail on the head with this article….. GO BUCS!

  10. Cobraboy Says:

    @stanglassman: as the NFL goes to more athletic 2-3 TE sets, you will see teams morph from a slot corner to a tougher safety in the box.

    Interesting to note that Ward took more snaps from the slot corner than either Conte or Tandy vs. the Bears.

    You could be watching a new trend develop.

  11. Cobraboy Says:

    Marpet’s biggest challenge will be going against Joseph, a massive immovable human form, more than crowd noise.

  12. Howard Cosell Says:

    Interesting observation there^, CB

  13. Easy Denman Says:

    OJ Howard is gonna play a huge role this week blocking those Edge rushers with Smith and Dotson. Mark my words, if we have success running the ball he will be a big part of it.

  14. SOEbuc Says:

    I’m hoping to see Ward in there for a bunch of safety blitzes. Chuck didn’t have a good week last Sunday. He could’ve had a 60-yard TD but…wait for it…Jameis over threw the long ball.

  15. biff barker Says:

    Not only is Ward a winner with something to prove to Elway, he’s the kind of “good football player” that both Koetter that Mike Smith crave. Flexible guys, can do a lot.

    Kwon’s out. Vet helps new guy and that’s why we’re 2-0 soon.

    Go Bucs.

  16. Bucnjim Says:

    When teams like the Vikings or maybe the Jags go max protect blitzing does not help because there is a good chance your D is still out numbered. This has always been a challenge for smaller defenses when the offense lines up 8 blockers who are both larger and sometimes more aggressive. They will try to match up our team speed with their size and strength while playing the time of possession game.

  17. Bucnjim Says:

    Hopefully we can utilize our more talented offense and make this scenario a non factor but I am guessing the first thing they try is the keep away game with ball control and their very good D

  18. Kobe Faker Says:

    VH3 nut huggers will come down to earth sunday

    “VH3 will be exposed…kobe being real”

    Kobe Faker

  19. Piratic Says:

    Kobe Faker=Oath Breaker

  20. Batman Wood Says:

    Mix it up blitzing David and Bond. Remember Bond’s strength coming out of college was his pass rush skills.