A Credible Yardstick

October 14th, 2020

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Crunch time often comes early in the National Football League.

The Bucs have seven games remaining before their bye week, seven weeks to prove to their fans, and perhaps even themselves, that they are a legitimate threat to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

With a 3-2 record, Tampa Bay has avoided an early hole. That’s the good news, but the road is about to get tougher and Vita Vea is no longer available to clear a winning path.

During this grueling 7-week gauntlet, the Bucs will face the Packers, Raiders, Giants, Saints, Panthers, Rams and Chiefs. Even with New York’s 0-5 mark, those clubs boast a cumulative record of 21-13. Each, except for the sad-sack Giants, has a winning record.

Setting up the final 4 starts Sunday

The closing 4-week grind after the bye seems quite favorable for a playoff push, so it’s up to the Bucs to position themselves at 7-5 or better heading into December.

That won’t be easy unless these players and this coaching staff address the self-inflicted wounds that threaten to undermine the franchise’s all-in approach.

It all starts Sunday against the 4-0 Packers, who enter Raymond James Stadium off a bye week that gave standout receiver Davante Adams time to recover from a hamstring injury.

Smiling & Winning

Aaron Rodgers is having the time of his life, orchestrating an attack that has scored at least 30 points in each game. This will be a major test for a Tampa Bay defense that hasn’t distinguished itself for a while.

The Chargers built a 24-7 advantage before folding and the Bears overcame a 13-0 deficit as the Bucs failed to hold three separate leads at Soldier Field.

Todd Bowles faces a huge dilemma Sunday.

While the Bucs want to mount an aggressive pass rush to disrupt Rodgers’ timing, he’s seen every blitz imaginable and he’s very adept at burning defenses with well-designed screens and flare passes to running back Aaron Jones.

Derrick Brooks, who knows a little bit about the subject, says sound tackling will be the key in containing Green Bay’s offense. As usual, he’s correct. Rodgers has targeted Jones and fellow back Jamaal Williams 36 times this season, with impressive results. Together, they average seven catches for 64 yards per game.

Critical role Sunday for Devin White, writes Ira Kaufman.

If Lavonte David and Devin White can wrap them up for minimal gains in the flat, it will go a long way toward putting Rodgers in unfavorable down and distance situations.

“They’ve got a good stable of backs – very versatile backs,” says Bruce Arians. “They look like wide receivers when they’re split out wide. They spread you out and run the ball really, really well out of the spread. When they break a tackle, they’ve got enough speed to take it to the house. The big, chunk runs are something we’ve got to shut down.”

This matchup looks like a good opportunity for Tom Brady and company to redeem themselves after failing to score a second-half touchdown in Chicago. While the Bears play some serious defense, the Packers appear vulnerable.

The Packers stuck with Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator and the early results have generated warning signs. Opponents average 4.8 yards per rush and the completion rate against Green Bay is 72 percent. Should the Packers fail to maintain their offensive prowess, they’re in trouble because they don’t force turnovers and they lack defensive playmakers.

If the Bucs can limit Green Bay’s time of possession, Brady and that expected 88-degree temperature at RayJay could wear down Pettine’s defense.

While a 4-2 record would give the Bucs some cushion, a setback on Sunday would drop them back to .500 heading into a difficult prime-time matchup in Las Vegas. The Packers are slight favorites, as they should be based on their torrid start, so here’s an opportunity for the home team to make a statement against an NFC power.

This Battle of the Bays won’t make-or-break the 2020 Bucs but it represents a credible yardstick.

If Tampa Bay can wipe that smug grin off the face of Rodgers, Buc Nation will smile in unison, knowing this club has the right stuff.

Ira’s friend Sean Sullivan, the Bill Currie Ford, will give you a special Ira Kaufman/JoeBucsFan discount, in addition to truly exemplary service.


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7 Responses to “A Credible Yardstick”

  1. Pewter Power Says:

    I don’t really care that with Brady age we may be looking for a quarterback very soon and probably next year but what worry me is this franchise has a habit of letting coordinators take over because of success on one side of the ball. The next head coach will either take a step forward of force yet another rebuild. Leftwich is t ready and Bowles is an ok coordinator doesn’t mean good head coach.

    Sucks we will be making a change at the two most important positions within a couple years while looks like falcons will be in the running for one of the top quarterbacks in the draft.

  2. Pelbuc Says:

    Please stop with the Lombardy trophy bs. This team is NOT a playoff team and they can’t beat better teams. They haven’t played a full game in all 3 phases in years!

  3. Fernando Diaz Says:

    excuses they should have not lost to the Bears
    They stopped running the ball
    Simple as that.

  4. Bucamania Says:

    Devin White has done very little the last two games, beyond breaking Vita’s ankle. He may have gotten too full of himself after a hot start. Get back to making plays Devin!

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    Great analysis Ira. Packers are vulnerable to BOTH the run AND the short passing game, and oh ya, to the deep pass too. Vikings put up 34 pts against them in the opening game in just 18 mins 44 sec TOP (4 TDs & 1 FG). Vikings went for 2 pts after each of their last 3 TDs and made it all 3 times … Wow! And oh ya, Cousins burned them going 5-for-6 deep.

    Lions played them pretty even in the passing game, but the Lions defense couldn’t stop the run (gave up 259 yds rushing on 35 rushes). Saints played them pretty even also, but lost because of too many penalties & TOs. Falcons actually played them very even, but couldn’t stop them at critical times, fell behind 20-3 at the half, and couldn’t make it up.

    Packers can be beat, but the Bucs will have to play a solid smashmouth football game that finds the Pack’s weakness early on Sunday then exploits the daylights out of it. I’m in favor of letting the beasts in the tranches & the RBs pound the ball with a short passing game mixed in to keep the defense off-balance. When they cheat forward, make them pay deep. This Bucs’ team has the horses to play exactly that kind of game. Now if we could just teach that to this coaching staff.

  6. Mirrormirroronthewall Says:

    It will take more than 7 weeks.

  7. Mike Johnson Says:

    Very Pivital game for the Bucs. We need to complete the 1st games with at least 5 wins to stand a chance. And Rodgers is an accurate gunslinger. Both in and out of the pocket. If our defense does not bring it hard, I do not see a victory for us.