Many across the nation are predicting the game between Seattle and Tampa Bay to be a blowout. Given the way the Bucs have played and the Seahawks defense shuts down their opponents, a blowout could be possible. Fortunately for the Bucs, a blowout is also avoidable.
The following keys to victory could help the Bucs avoid a west coast nightmare.
1. Fix The Safety Valves
The Buccaneers last line of defense has been burned on several occasions. Philadelphia, Atlanta, and New Orleans have all gotten behind Tampa Bay’s safeties for easy scores and have also allowed big passing plays behind them.
Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron were supposed to be the stop gap for anything beyond the second level of the Bucs defense. But Barron has been playing closer to the box on the majority of snaps this season and on several personnel packages the Bucs have placed a backup safety in his safety spot which has resulted in those deep plays or miscommunication.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has the ability to go deep and if wide receiver Golden Tate gets in the defensive backfield, it can be a long day for the Bucs’ defensive backfield. And if Barron and Goldson are unable to play, it can turn ugly in a hurry.
2. Limit The 12th Man
Seattle’s CenturyLink Field is one of the loudest stadiums in the country and the fans have been dubbed “The 12th Man.” Setting the Guinness World Record for the loudest stadium on September 15, opponents who travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks have a difficult time on offense.
The Buccaneers have to figure out a way to get the crowd out of the game early. If not, there can be lots of penalties and miscues on offense.
3. Force Turnovers
The Bucs have had difficulties taking the ball from their opponents. The Seahawks have no problem creating takeaways. In hindsight, this can spell trouble for the Bucs. However, Seattle has done their fair share of turning the ball over as of late.
Seattle has had six turnovers in their last four games – five have been fumbles. Tampa Bay should be able to force Seattle into mistakes but that is something the Bucs have not been able to do consistently all season long.
4. Cage The Beast
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has proven to be a reliable offensive weapon for Seattle. He has rushed for 601 yards and six touchdowns this season. But his running game goes beyond his production when he enters "beast mode."
Lynch’s running style makes it difficult defenders to bring him down, just ask Arizona defensive end Darnell Dockett. In Week 7 on Thursday Night Football, Lynch’s number was called and ran it right through in between the tackles. As Dockett came across the defensive line in an attempt to stop him, Lynch lowered his shoulder and knocked Dcokett to the ground as his helmet went flying off.
The Bucs’ front four need to keep Seattle’s running back in the backfield. Once he gets to the second and third level of the defense, Tampa Bay’s linebackers and defensive backs can have a tough time bringing him down, much like Dockett.
5. Open It Up
The Bucs offense has been able to move the ball to some degree and put some points on the board thanks to the shortage yardage, high percentage throws from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. At some point they have to begin taking more shots down field and Week 9 could be the week to do so.
Seattle’s defense now has film on Glennon and know he goes to his second and third options quite often who are underneath. They also like to load the box which adds more intrigue for the Buccaneers to go to more play action and take shots downfield.
At times though it seems Glennon prefers to go to his intermediate options. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan should consider calling more deep routes in Seattle, no matter who the receivers are.
Gil Arcia (2-5): Seahawks 37, Buccaneers 10
Mark Cook (3-4): Buccaneers 23, Seahawks 21
Scott Reynolds (5-2): Seahawks 27, Buccaneers 16