Ring The Bell On Round 2

January 20th, 2021

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Todd Bowles aced his test last week. Now, he’s bracing for the NFL’s most formidable exam.

Tampa Bay’s defense was superb at the Superdome as Bowles dialed up an aggressive scheme that dared Drew Brees to beat the Bucs downfield.

Buc fans applauded the decision to veer away from a soft zone and implement smothering man coverage.

With few exceptions, every New Orleans pass was contested and Brees had no answers in what was likely his final NFL game.

But here comes Mr. Rodgers, brimming with swagger, and that brings a new set of challenges. The biggest difference? Aaron Rodgers makes you cover every blade of frozen grass at Lambeau. He can make every throw from every conceivable angle — and that’s what is keeping Bowles and his defensive coaches up late into the night this week.

Brees can credibly be labeled the most accurate passer this league has ever seen, but he never had Rodgers’ arm and at this stage of his career, Brees simply wasn’t a threat on the deep ball.

Bowles constricted the field, taking away all those quick, short throws that move the chains. And with Michael Thomas playing hurt, the Saints lacked the weapons to hurt Tampa Bay’s young secondary.

The Packers are a different story.

Fine Cheese

Yes, Green Bay was embarrassed in Tampa in Week 6, but teams, even No. 1 seeds, have bad days. A pick-6 by Jamel Dean turned momentum Tampa Bay’s way after an early 10-0 deficit and as the game progressed, Rodgers had the look of a beaten man.

That performance should give the Bucs some confidence, but it looks more like an aberration because the Packers went on to become the NFL’s highest-scoring team. Rodgers went on to have an MVP season and he is surrounded by play-makers.

With Thomas hobbled, Brees had to rely on 33-year-old Emmanuel Sanders. Rodgers has the luxury of throwing to Davante Adams, arguably the best wide receiver in the league.

Carlton Davis

In his prime at the age of 28, Adams averaged 98 receiving yards per game during the regular season and grabbed nine passes for 66 yards and a touchdown against the Rams, with Jalen Ramsey shadowing him all over Lambeau.

With all due respect to Carlton Davis, he’s no Jalen Ramsey.

Adams is the natural focal point, but he’s got help. Tight end Robert Tonyan is a major red-zone threat with 11 TD catches. Allen Lazard and Marques Valdes-Scantling combined for 66 receptions, 1,141 yards and 9 touchdowns.

And Rodgers is adept at finding his backs on the flanks, especially against the blitz. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined for 78 catches, with Jones particularly adept on screens.

That’s a lot for Bowles to consider — besides Green Bay’s robust ground attack.

The Bucs clearly got inside the helmet of Rodgers on Oct. 18, but he’s been unflappable the rest of the way. That was the only time the Packers have been held under 22 points.

Green Bay’s defense, while decent, is a notch below New Orleans. You can run on the Packers, which sounds promising, but you have to stay close if you want to stay balanced. That’s not easy when you’re facing an offense that converts third downs at a 49.4 percent clip.

No wonder Green Bay topped all teams in time of possession.

Despite all these daunting numbers, here’s another: the Packers are favored by only three points. They might be a different team from Week 6, but so are the Bucs. Tom Brady has thrown only one pick during this six-game winning streak and the offensive line is stout.

Bowles is known as a coach who puts his players in the best position to succeed. We shall see.

The same game plan used in New Orleans won’t work at Lambeau, so Bowles must adapt. A Super Bowl berth is theirs if the Bucs can frustrate Rodgers once again.

It’s almost time for the ultimate exam. Pencils up, heads down.


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18 Responses to “Ring The Bell On Round 2”

  1. NaplesBucsFan Says:

    Like BA said, this team’s identity is a team that finds a way to win…put the plan together, go execute and adjust on the fly…just like last week!! The Bucs showed a lot of fortitude early last week when they could have folded after the first quarter.
    They are getting confidence in their abilities and I think Brady and the O are due for a BIG GAME.
    Let’s go Bucs and come HOME FOR A SUPER GAME!!

  2. SB Says:

    All we really have to do is put Rogers on his back side a few times in the first half. Then he turns into that whiny little petulant child that he is

  3. Winny Testaverde Says:

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  4. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I was a little worried about the Saints game but not so much about GB.
    Rogers is great, but put him on his ass early and often and he will get rattled.
    A mix of man coverage and zone as the game progresses should do the trick.


    I’m looking at you guys to make snotty AR uncomfortable and prone to turnovers.

    Go Bucs!!!

  5. Godlovesbucs Says:

    Stop adams, keep rogers in the pocket, and force rogers to drive down the field. No big plays over the top. I think those are the 3 keys to slowing down their offense. You cNnot to expect to stop it, hopefully you can keep them under 31.

    31 28 tampa

  6. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Yup. Hope Vita can help there, with good push in the middle.

  7. BuccaneerButters Says:

    First time, long time. Been a Bucs fan for seven seasons now, living in Wisconsin. Very happy and proud of what this team has accomplished. That being said, we all know the key to stopping Rodgers, pressure. The only thing I can add new is the emergence of AJ Dillon. From what I’ve seen, this kid is legit. Thick legs, fresh, and runs hard. He’s like a mini Derrick Henry. I think he was on the Covid list on week 16. Point is, we shouldn’t have any issues with Williams or Jones, and if we play man we should be fine as long as we pressure Rodgers. The wild card will be stopping the wrecking ball that is Dillon.

    Go Bucs!

  8. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Bucs have to be physical with them. They are a finesse team. That’s been the book on beating them. Rams couldn’t do it with Donald playing hurt. Bucs have to smash em in the mouth.

  9. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    I’m not sure why I feel 10x more confident this week than I did last week. I think it’s GBs defense. It just doesn’t scare me. Brady and the boys caught fire on them in week 6 but that was back when they were still only showing glimpses of what they could do. I think Brady has a day and, ONCE AGAIN, shows ppl how dumb it is to bet against him in n the playoffs.

  10. SB Says:

    I feel like Bart Scott right now.

    “ CAN’T WAIT “

  11. Miller5252 Says:

    Bowles just needs to take page out of Belicheats playbook…. double team and take their best player off the board and make them beat you with someone else. As you do that, I agree Shaq, JPP and the rest of the line HAS to get Rodgers on his backside. But we just can’t put Davis on an island and expect him not to get burnt…. he needs help to remove the best player.

  12. Jmarkbuc Says:

    GB has very good skill players. They are formidable.

  13. stpetebucsfan Says:

    People keep whining in search of our “identity”. Because we can do so many different things well, but we did them inconsistently for much of the season until the stretch drive…people can’t put a name on the Bucs.

    I don’t know about a name, but Sunday’s win was the first time I’ve seen the Bucs out physical and out nasty their opponents.

    I don’t care what ID the Bucs have they played in New Orleans with a lot of ‘tude!

  14. Darin Says:

    He knows what game plan will work they’ve already played. We shall see who adjusts better in game.

  15. unbelievable Says:

    SB nailed it. While much more mobile than Brady- they are similar in that if you pressure them and beat them up early, it usually has a lasting effect for the rest of the game.

    We saw it last time. Let’s do it again. And for the love of God, let’s hope Todd Bowles is prepared for them to incorporate new blitz-beaters and be sure we have away to cover them.

    Also gonna need a deep safety quite often, as Green Bay can push the ball downfield better than anyone.

    That said, I have faith in how hungry are Bucs have seemed. Let’s hope that intensity and preparation continues for a few more weeks!

  16. Buczilla Says:

    Top to bottom, our team is better than Green Bay’s, but Rogers is 19-3 in December games at Lambeau, so I don’t see us crushing them this time. If our defense shows up and our young guys don’t crumble in the cold, I can still see us winning by a couple of scores.

  17. SB : Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    I agree UB. Winfield needs to be single high on downfield sets. I think he has grown enough to handle it. Joe has demonstrated it in many of his articles.
    Pressure busts a pipe Every time.
    We need to put pressure on AR!

  18. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    Great article with great points, Sage!