Execution & Redemption

October 7th, 2020

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Buc fans may have to change their sleep habits for a while.

Thursday night’s matchup in the Windy City kicks off a run of four prime-time games in the next five weeks — and five under the lights in the ensuing seven weeks.

Add in a mounting injury list and it’s obvious the first-place Bucs face serious challenges. Bruce Arians likes the idea of packaging all of these prime-time matchups within a short window because Tampa Bay players might be able to get into a beneficial routine.

But make no mistake … evening games are disruptive.

Big night for Bruce Arians

This franchise hasn’t had to make these kinds of schedule adjustments very often since Jon Gruden left town. The Bucs found themselves in prime time only because the league was obligated to feature every team at least once every season.

All that changed when No. 12 entered the picture.

Tom Brady is a TV click magnet and he saunters into Soldier Field on a roll. He shredded the Chargers in a second-half comeback, but the Bears boast the toughest defense Brady has seen in the early season.

Khalil Mack is a force coming off the left edge. That would ordinarily be a major concern against a rookie right tackle, but Tristan Wirfs has proven he is no ordinary rookie.

While Andrew Thomas, the first of the Big 4 offensive tackles taken off the draft board, struggles with the Giants, Wirfs already has neutralized Cameron Jordan and Joey Bosa. Mack is the tone-setter for Chicago’s aggressive defense but he is surrounded by some disruptive teammates.

“They’re a team that’s kind of built on the defensive side of the football,” says Cameron Brate. “Their front seven is very good. They’ve got a bunch of good players across the board – guys who can really rush the passer and also some big guys up the middle who can stop the run. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us in a bunch of different facets.”

Third-Down Battle

There are no alibis for Tampa Bay’s poor defensive performance against the Chargers. Injuries were no factor as Justin Herbert seemed to make Todd Bowles pay a hefty price for every extra pass rusher sent his way.

Khalil Mack awaits

This looks like a good opportunity for Bowles and crew to redeem themselves. Nick Foles wasn’t very effective against the Colts last week and he doesn’t have enough playmakers to keep Bowles up at night.

Running back David Montgomery is just OK. Wide receiver Allen Robinson is decent.

That’s about it as far as weapons in a Chicago attack that was exposed against Indy. Bucs punter Bradley Pinion needs to keep booming those kickoffs through the end zone because Cordarrelle Patterson is a dangerous returner.

Weather won’t be a factor with the forecast calling for clear skies, a light breeze and temperatures in the high 50s. What will be a factor is a Chicago defense that excels on third down and in the red zone, where the Bucs have been fantastic.

Given the season-ending injury to O.J. Howard, Brate could emerge as an effective target for Brady, particularly deep in Bears territory.

The Bucs will need their blocking tight end

“We’re going to see who is going to be ready for the game on Thursday night,” Brate says. “It will be a good opportunity for a lot of guys, but obviously they have Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn as defensive linemen, so we’re going to have to stop those guys if we are going to want to run or pass the ball.”

The Bucs are favored in this matchup — as they should be. They have a superior roster, even with an array of injuries at receiver and running back. Brady is healthy. Ronald Jones is healthy. Mike Evans will play. The offensive line is intact. An angry defense could have all of its key pieces.

That should be enough.

Top Key

If the Bucs lose this game, it won’t be because Leonard Fournette was unavailable. It won’t be because LeSean McCoy has a bum ankle or Justin Watson is nursing a chest injury. It will be because Akiem Hicks and Mack were in Tampa Bay’s backfield too often.

Harold Goodwin and Joe Gilbert’s offensive line has rebounded nicely from a subpar effort in Week 1. If that growth continues Thursday evening, the Bucs should stroll out of Chicago with their first 4-1 getaway since 2005. They won 11 games that year and finished atop the NFC South.

Sounds like a plan.

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13 Responses to “Execution & Redemption”

  1. Buc1987 Says:

    Nice article as usual Ira.

    Where’s the Buc Realisto these days?

    Perhaps he listened to me when I said he should be banned from posting after every Bucs win?

  2. Ndog Says:

    The last four games and last season are defined by the offensive line if you know watch pretty closely every time the offensive line played extremely well the Bucs won when they struggled the Bucs lost, it always comes down to the O line with the way this team is built, we will see what happens tomorrow night.

    BTW let’s take note of how the defense performs against the Bears tomorrow night and contrast how they played a few years ago against them, I think we’ll see a start contrast and the clear example of how much better this defense is and a big reason why they have a chance this year to be what I predicted 13-3.

  3. WhoCares Says:

    If you notice, everytime the Bucs win they dont suck on theyre fingers.

  4. 813bucboi Says:


    realist called…

    its time to herd sheep at smittys farm…

    GO BUCS!!!!

  5. SlyPirate541 Says:

    Good write up.

    The only thing I would add is the Bears DL has been soft against the run this year. The Bucs would love to see some big runs from Rojo early to set up play action.

  6. JonJohn Says:

    @WhoCares to be fair, I don’t think Winston won that game either lol

  7. Rico 210 Says:

    @ndog damn homie, nice post. Thank you. I agree we live and die by the O line. Mack is no joke. Hope Wirfs can pull this off. The whole line needs to keep #12 clean tomorrow night
    Go Bucs

  8. Chris Boyd Says:

    to be fair.. allen robinson is actually really good, he’s just been plagued by a bortles/trubisky virus most of his career. glad carlton davis is playing so well, we’re gonna need him against robinson

  9. Piratic Says:

    Ndog took his meds today.

    Well done, sir.

  10. WhoCares Says:


    Good Point, LOL

    Lets just say its nice the Best to EVER Play vs the Best to EVER Suck.

    Which to be honest, breaks my heart because the talent was/is so obvious. Maybe if JW goes back to feeling up female Uber drivers. He will stop sucking.

    Either way, let it be a lesson for us all. If you only have one shot, one opportunity……… And the beat goes on. (With the FREAKING GOAT in the HOUSE)

  11. WhoCares Says:

    Lets just say its nice **to have** the Best to EVER Play vs the Best to EVER Suck.

  12. #1bucfan Says:

    813. NDOG isn’t whining about Winston in this thread cut him some slack. The game most of the time is won up front in the trenches which NDOG hit on. O-line and D-line will need to set the tone and set it early let’s go Bucs

  13. August 1976 Buc Says:

    A consistant marker for determining in the NFL success is always about the Big Uglies in the trenches. Historically whoever dominates the line of scrimmage most likely win. Turnovers are the wild card and an occasional breakout by a player. For O lineman it is always about pancakes baby, knocking your opponent on their backsided, and you can run and throw. Or the the D line knocking the crap out of the O line and collapsing the pocket and terrorizing offense. If a running back is getting hit behind the line of scrimmage again and again they are not going to have a good day running. And even the great Tom Brady is not going to complete passes with people laying on him and he is getting roughed up and slammed to the ground again and again. Brady is going to get the ball out quick on thursday night, he is not stupid. Just like when the Bears were playing meat grinder Defense in 2018. The game against the Pack, K Mack and the gang were destroying GB in the first half. But then in the second half, Rodgers came back from injury and started getting the ball out quick and Rodgers had his “Willis Reed game” and won. Like Rodgers, Brady is smart enough to know you just cant hold the ball and let a defense play ragdoll him. GO BUCS!!!!