Simple Formula For A Critical Victory

October 8th, 2022

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All of Tampa Bay’s chips are in the middle of the table, Sunday’s opponent is playing with house money.

Virtually all the pressure is on the home team when the surprising Falcons swoop into Raymond James Stadium, looking for sole possession of first place in the NFC South after five games.

A month ago, that scenario would have seemed ludicrous. Atlanta had the look of a 5-12 team vying for the top spot in a draft teeming with intriguing quarterback prospects.

Let’s get real. The Bucs are 10-point favorites — and rightly so. There’s no comparison between the talent on these rosters and now the Falcons are playing without Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Atlanta’s offense has been remarkably consistent through a 2-2 start, scoring 26, 27, 27 and 23 points behind a bruising ground game that has lifted the burden off Marcus Mariota’s shoulder pads.

Despite Patterson’s absence, second-year coach Arthur Smith isn’t going to change his offensive philosophy.

As Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, he kept running the ball behind Derrick Henry. The Falcons don’t have a bruiser like Henry, but Smith keeps telling Mariota to hand off.

It’s a smart strategy for two reasons. First, Atlanta is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. No. 2, Mariota is a lousy thrower.

Smith has noticed.

In each of the first four games, Mariota’s pass attempts have decreased. The Falcons managed to beat the Browns last week despite a miserable performance by Mariota, who completed 7-of-19 throws and compiled a passer rating of 41.3.

Antoine Winfield and the defense know exactly what’s at stake Sunday.

Still, the Falcons found a way to win and their confidence is growing.

Meanwhile, the Bucs have yet to play a complete game as their schedule softens, at least on paper.

Tom Brady admitted this week what Buc Nation knows all too well — Tampa Bay hasn’t played its best football in 2022.

Not even close.

After holding up the team for three weeks, the defense collapsed against Kansas City, pushed around all night in a shocking display of lopsided physicality.

Crossroads For Bowles

This is a huge game for Todd Bowles because the Bucs don’t look like a Super Bowl contender. Brady threw the ball with authority Sunday but the ground game has gone AWOL since the opener. Run defense has been an issue against the Saints and Chiefs.

Looking for consistency? Try Ryan Succop.

The Falcons’ head man doesn’t have his head in the sand.

Smith isn’t naive. He’s been around and he knows Bowles wasn’t a happy camper this week. It’s one thing to lose. It’s quite another to be bullied.

“You do look at the tape,” Smith says, “but understand that they’re going to do something different to get it fixed. They’ve had the best run defense for a couple of years and they’ll have something different for us.”

What needs to change first is the mentality. The Bucs haven’t played with any urgency, averaging only 3 points in the opening quarter. Opponents are averaging 6.8 points through the first 15 minutes.

That narrative has to turn around, and Sunday would be a lovely place to start. If the Bucs can grab a substantial lead, that puts the ball in Mariota’s hands and that plays to Tampa Bay’s advantage.

Looking back at the 2015 draft, some NFL scouts were convinced Mariota and Jameis Winston would develop into franchise quarterbacks. Seven years later, their combined record is 65-80.

It’s hard to believe Mariota will still be under center for Atlanta next season. Smith knows that.

So does Mariota.

Right now, he’s getting the job done by handing off and getting out of the way. The Bucs need to place him front and center.

Ira loves that lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles!

18 Responses to “Simple Formula For A Critical Victory”

  1. Goatfarmer Says:

    With Todd’s Bowels and Byromoron crafting the game plan as they did against the Packers and Chiefs, there is high probability of screwing this one up.

  2. Steven007 Says:

    It’s as simple as them staying disciplined, staying in their gaps and getting the run fits correct. Instead of 3rd and two and third and one and third and three all day like we had last week, it needs to be third and seven or more whenever they’re in third down. That plays to our strength. And that depends on us stopping the run that we know is coming.

  3. Steven007 Says:

    If we can keep them in third and long, I predict we may get one or two picks. And should get a few sacks as well.

  4. Goatfarmer Says:

    This team can’t do simple. Like, simply cover Tyreek Hill once upon a time. Or simply cover Cooper Kupp. Or simply cover Kelce with someone who can cover last Sunday night. Or simply don’t hand the ball to a one-legged stationary Lenny while the OL can’t run block without a healthy Donovan Smith.

    Todd the genius will try to prove how smart he is and come up with some advanced calculus that his defense won’t comprehend without Logan Ryan, and Byromoron is who he is.

  5. LongTime BucsFan Says:

    The Bucs didn’t look like a Super Bowl contender in week 5 back in the 2020 season or week 5 of their 2002 season. They kept getting better week by week and both of those teams finished as champions. What they look like in week 17 and beyond is what really matters.

  6. Pickgrin Says:

    Simma down now goatgrabber

    You want simple?

    How about BLOCK for the RBs on offense and TACKLE on defense.

    Do those two most basic football fundamentals well tomorrow and the Bucs will cruise to a comfortable win over the Dirty Birds.



  7. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    If the Dirty Birds are successful in running it on our defense Sunday-the blame falls squarely on Jason Lichts’ shoulders. Licht overpaid for Hicks when it was painfully obvious to everyone that Hicks had bad wheels. Licht could have corrected his blunder by signing HOF’er Ndamakong Suh to bolster our weak Dline. Nobody is praying for our defense to come alive more than Jason Licht. If the Falcons run-Licht should get run.

  8. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Ira will be back rooting for the good guys on this one as he’s a Chiefs fan at heart and wouldn’t look too shabby wearing Hank Stram’s toupee. If the Bucs win…the ship will feel somewhat righted. If they lose…the wheels will wobble and a circling of the drain could ensue.

  9. Crickett Baker Says:

    It took 4 or 5 of our guys to tackle in the KC game and they were riding on the back of a strong moving target. IDK why no one seemed to go for their legs to stop them. If our tackling improves dramatically we will have no problem beating those birds.

  10. Bucs Fan Since ‘76 Says:

    Geez, the name calling sure gets old.

  11. Goatfarmer Says:

    Tackle. Block. Double cover the primary threat.

  12. BigMacAttack Says:

    I think maybe too much emphasis is being placed on the Bucs’ coaches and not enough on careless mistakes made by players that made a huge difference in both losses. Turnovers killed their chances and coaches don’t touch the ball. If they don’t get a handle on the mistakes, penalties, turnovers and lackluster tackling, it won’t get better. The Bucs’ problems are mental, much like Bunting said and like Omura said “Too Many Mind” 😂.

  13. Biff Barker Says:

    Pickgrin, you’ve been around long enough to remember Schiano holding tackling drills. I sure do. Many laughed.

    Oh, the irony!

  14. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Coach Smith has turned Atlanta around, and they are not going to be easy to beat, especially if they can run the ball.
    Even w/o Patterson they have a pair of over 220 lb backs and a line good at run blocking.
    WE may have our hands full, but we just have too much firepower for Atlanta.
    Though we have lost 3 straight games at home from last year, we get our first home win tomorrow.

  15. Bojim Says:

    Psssst. Todd. They’re gonna run.

  16. garro Says:

    Name Calling is the lowest form of intellectual discourse.

    It reveals more about your character than the person, or persons you are aiming it at. Not to mention the fact that it is indeed childish. Although i’m sure many of you think your use of it is quite clever. I assure you it generaly makes me move on to a more reasonable and enlightening post.

  17. B4l Says:

    Make a trade for KJ Hamler

  18. Buc911 Says:

    This defense plays well when we are ahead and Bowles can blitz! We need our offense to get up early and have us all partying under Pirate ship by halftime! If the game is close then the Pigeons can run. They owe us a blowout WIN!