Key 1. Beat Packers' Man
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Wednesday the Packers play a lot of man-coverage and expects that to continue this Sunday against the Buccaneers’ receivers.
And who can blame them? Tampa Bay’s receiving corps has yet to show they can create separation and beat man coverage all season, something both Olson and head coach Raheem Morris have pointed out going back to the Patriots game in the preseason.
For the Buccaneers to have any shot at beating Green Bay, Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn or whatever the combination of Buc receivers that are on the field must take advantage of single coverage and not only get open, but make the catch.
Key 2. Make Each Drive Count
Like death and taxes, the certainty of the Packers scoring points is pretty much an automatic. With that said the Buccaneers offense will need to score points, and lots of them. As much as we all love Conner Barth, the only time he needs to be on the field is when he comes in to kick extra points.
The Packers defense hasn’t been stellar. In fact, they only rank 28th in the league in total defense, giving up 384.4 yards per game. The Buccaneers offense is ranked a respectable 16th in the NFL in total offense, so the opportunity to move the football will be there.
But moving it and scoring points are two different animals and Tampa Bay must find a way to score touchdowns by limiting penalties and turnovers. Freeman will need to have his best game of the season for the Buccaneers to have any chance of coming home with a 5-5 record.
Key 3. Razz Rodgers
So far no one has been able to find a way to slow down Packers star QB Aaron Rodgers even a little this season. But like the Saints' Drew Brees, Rodgers will take chances with the football and the Buccaneers secondary must take every advantage to nab interceptions.
The best way to get Rodgers rattled will be with constant pressure, something the Buccaneers have been hard-pressed to manufacture so far this season.
With a 130.7 QB rating so far this season, Rodgers is on pace to set the NFL record. Rodgers is due for a bad game right? If the Buccaneers can somehow muster pressure and harass Rodgers into mistakes it will provide a glimmer of hope in ending the Packers' 15-game winning streak dating back to last season.
Key 4. Element of Surprise
Games like these are where coordinators' reputations are made. Facing what is perceived locally and nationally as a no-chance proposition to beat Green Bay, Greg Olson and Raheem Morris will need to put their mad-scientists hats on and come out with game plans the Packers haven’t seen all season.
Start the game offensively in a five-receiver set. On defense, maybe come out playing their 3-3-5 redskin package or drop six men in coverage. In other words try and make the Packers adjust from the first snap of the game. Chances are the Packers will figure it out, but this is a game where you pull out all the stops and use the element of surprise.
The Buccaneers can’t rely on their normal offensive or defensive schemes. If there are any trick plays Olson has been brewing in the lab, now is the time to unleash them.
Facing the best team in the league and also near elimination from any realistic playoff chances, it is time to let it all hang out. The Buccaneers can’t just line up and go status quo against this Packer team and expect to win.
Key 5. Have Rah's back
For nearly three seasons Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris has stood up for his players, protected them and even deflected criticism. Whether it be sticking up for Aqib Talib on numerous occasions, giving Tanard Jackson another shot or even costing the organization $250,000 (which has since been reduced) to call and congratulate new father Kellen Winslow, no one in the locker room can say their coach doesn’t care.
So how is it that this team repaid him by exhibiting perhaps its worst effort in Morris' tenure by losing to the Texans and essentially throwing in the towel as things got bad?
Morris has been loyal to a fault and now has been put on the proverbial hot seat by many locally, but in particular by some in the national media. Sure, some of his coaching decisions can be criticized and questioned and Morris will always take the blame, but like several players told us this week, Morris hasn’t missed one tackle or dropped a pass all season. It's on the players.
If the 53 men inside the walls of One Buccaneer Place truly respect their head coach they need to show him and the fans by their play on the field Sunday.
No one locally or nationally gives the Buccaneers any shot to win Sunday at Green Bay. And for any chance of a shock-the-world type victory, Tampa Bay will need to play the best football of Raheem Morris’s career as Buccaneers head coach.
Buccaneers players should have enough pride and respect for their coaches, organization and fans to come out at the very least giving 100-percent intensity and focus. Coaches will say there is no such thing as a moral victory, but this team can earn some respect by playing as Raheem Morris says they should all the time – hard, fast and smart.
Cook’s Prediction: Packers 35, Buccaneers 17
Reynold’s Prediction: Packers 33, Buccaneers 20
Horchy’s Prediction: Packers 37, Buccaneers 23