5 Weeks Of Heat Sets The Stage

May 8th, 2020

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Tom Brady and his new crew had better be in sync from the start.

In the first five weeks, the Bucs face some of the NFL’s most physical defenses. That challenge is compounded by an offseason like no other in the league’s 100-year history, with Brady afforded less time than usual to adapt to his new teammates.

Although New Orleans is the only one of Tampa Bay’s first five opponents to post a winning record in 2019, the Broncos, Chargers and Bears are loaded with impact players on defense, bolstered by key additions.

Even the Panthers, who allowed a franchise-record 470 points last season, figure to improve defensively — despite the retirement of Hall of Fame linebacker Luke Kuechly. That’s because Carolina just became the first NFL team to use all seven of its draft picks on defensive players.

In Week 2, Brady will face a Panthers front that features Kawann Short and first-round pick Derrick Brown policing the interior. Former FSU standout Brian Burns, who registered 7.5 sacks as a rookie, will combine with newcomer Yetur Gross-Matos to generate edge pressure.

The duel between Brady and Drew Brees naturally dominates the headlines in the season opener at the Superdome, but the Saints defense ranked 11th last year and veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins is back in the Big Easy after a 6-year sojourn in Philadelphia.

Tristan Wirfs will start in the deep end of the pool

And don’t forget that Cameron Jordan, one of the NFL’s premier defensive ends, figures to give Tristan Wirfs fits in his Buc debut at right tackle. Bruce Arians is smart enough to know Wirfs will need help against a stud who has averaged 11 sacks in the past seven seasons.

In Week 3, the Bucs head to Denver, where the Broncos traditionally play tough defense.

Another Hall of Fame rusher coming early

Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will be waiting for Brady, seeking to take their shots from the outside while five-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey, stolen from Tennessee for a mere seventh-round pick, figures to provide inside heat.

Then it’s back home to face the Chargers, who are likely to start rookie Justin Herbert under center. That should be good news for Tampa Bay’s defense, but Brady will be facing a star-studded group that just added veterans Linval Joseph and Chris Harris as well as talented rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray.

When you consider the Chargers also boast difference makers like Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram up front and Derwin James and Casey Hayward in the secondary, the Brady Bunch faces a difficult matchup.

“You have to find ways to affect the quarterback,” says Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, a former Bucs assistant under Jon Gruden. “We didn’t do a good enough job last year in doing that.”

On a short week, the Bucs will head to the Windy City to face a Chicago defense that ranked No. 8 last year, despite a pedestrian attack. How pedestrian? The Bears led the NFC with 81 punts, 24 more than the Buccaneers.

RoJo time?

Still, Chicago boasts a formidable defense led by Khalil Mack. And that marauding unit has been fortified by the additions of Robert Quinn and Tashaun Gipson. Quinn looms as a potential problem in keeping Brady upright because he resurrected his career in Dallas after a forgettable stint in Miami. He has 80.5 sacks in 125 career games, one more sack than Jason Pierre-Paul in 12 fewer games.

Wirfs, who struggled at times against speed rushers at Iowa, will be tested early and often.

The best way to cool down the heat sent Brady’s way?

Revive a dormant ground game.

A robust running attack will maximize Brady’s play action and keep defenses off balance. But if the Bucs average only 3.7 yards per carry once again, teams like the Broncos, Chargers and Bears won’t think twice about unleashing the hounds of war.

Ira Kaufman’s column is presented by Bill Currie Ford, where the stunning offers and 0% interest rates are waiting for you. Click on Ira to visit BillCurrieFord.com, where GM Sean Sullivan will help you personally.

12 Responses to “5 Weeks Of Heat Sets The Stage”

  1. Dapostman Says:

    Bruce Arians is smart enough to know Wirfs will need help against a stud who has averaged 11 sacks in the past seven seasons.

    Josh Wells got no help when he played but Wirfs will get help?

    The old folks home is calling 1-800-kaufman

  2. Buc4Lyfe Says:

    So ready for the season and the challenges ahead! Get some nice defensive tests early before the schedule tapers down a bit! So ready for week 1

  3. Darin Says:

    Those were last years defenses Ira. You know every season’s different. We will see how good those teams are when the time comes

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    And probably all of those team’s websites are writing about the explosive Buc offense they will face….
    And, our defense is no pushover…..

  5. TSmitty3000 Says:

    Dapostman made me spit out my drink HAHAHAHA

  6. Lord Says:

    We’re built to pass the ball and exploit 1v1 matchups.

    Brady negates pass rush with quick decisions / getting the ball out fast. We will always have favorable 1v1 matchups against any D pretty much.

  7. ZZbuc Says:

    extraordinary Dapostman!!! Still laughing!!!

  8. Rod Munch's 2007 Saturn Says:

    Has anyone seen Rod?

  9. Jean Lafitte Says:

    We’ll be in all those games till the end and personally I like our chances better with Brady under center instead of Candyman.

    Yeah Ndog ..I said it.

  10. Buczilla Says:

    Other than Brady getting hurt, the thing that scares me the most is our running game. Banking on players who have done nothing or close to nothing in the NFL is risky. Sign a veteran Licht! Don’t continue to half a$$ the running back position like you did the quarterback position before signing Brady.

  11. Mark Says:

    Let’s not start name-dropping rookies as difference makers before the season starts. If every first round pick lives up to the hype, every team got equally better.

  12. Jason Mclaurin Says:

    Personally I’m all for the local media and fan base pushing for a day by day stance with this star studded team. Yeah the schedule is out but we don’t need to be thinking wins and losses right now. We should take this time to get more familiar with our roster what role will Wirfs and Winfield thrive in as rookies. The perfect rotation for our depth during those five weeks of heat. We gotta have a good rotation with all our players to begin the season until our players gel into roles.