The Buccaneers are coming off of their first victory Monday night against the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately for them, there was not much time for celebration as they had a quick turnaround so they can begin preparations for this week’s matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
The following keys to victory can help Tampa Bay win back-to-back games and earn their second victory of 2013.
1. Contain Matt Ryan
The Bucs were unable to come close to flustering Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan in their Week 7 matchup. As a result, Ryan completed nearly 77 percent of his passes and threw three touchdown passes to beat the Bucs 31-23.
Since then, Ryan has struggled, throwing seven interceptions, sacked seven times and has thrown just three touchdowns in the past three weeks. If Ryan is forced into having his fourth bad game in a row, the Bucs’ chances for a victory are pretty good.
2. Don’t Make The Same Mistakes
Tampa Bay’s secondary turned Atlanta’s wide receiver Harry Douglas into a household name in their last meeting in just the first half of football. Douglas finished with seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown – a touchdown that came on a bad defensive read by safety Dashon Goldson.
Bad angles and miscommunication has plagued the Bucs’ secondary this season. The Falcons will have All-Pro wide receiver Roddy White returning to action this week. The Buccaneers need to play to their strengths and jam the receivers at the line or this can be a repeat of Week 7.
3. Run The Committee
Tampa Bay has lost running backs Doug Martin, Mike James, Jeff Demps and Michael Smith. Now down to Brian Leonard, Bobby Rainey, and recently acquired Michael Hill, he Bucs will use a running back by committee approach moving forward and that starts on Sunday.
Atlanta has given up at least 130 yards in each of their last three games and have the 27th ranked rushing defense. The Bucs have posted team rushing numbers of 140 yards and 205 yards in their last two contests. Look for the Bucs to continue their success on the ground and keep Atlanta’s offense on the sideline.
4. Get That Seven Going Again
Everyone saw what the Buccaneers front seven can really do when they are put in position to excel. Against the Dolphins Monday night, the biggest defensive stops come on plays where the line did not stunt and the linebackers hit the gaps that were not stunted into.
The end result was a safety by Lavonte David, two sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Miami’s final drive, and stopping the run for only two yards. Tampa Bay will see running back Steven Jackson for the first time this season. Jackson’s strengths are size, power, and decent speed but if the Bucs repeat their success from Monday, they can stop Atlanta’s attack through the air and on the ground.
5. Don’t Leave Points Out On The Field
Teams would much rather score touchdowns than field goals but for the Buccaneers, that’s been easier said than done. Countless trips inside the opponent’s red zones have resulted in field goals rather than touchdowns. From bad playcalling to penalties, the Bucs get themselves out of the red zone about as often as they get in, resulting in three points and not seven.
The Bucs need to put more points on the board against the Falcons on Sunday. They have a good shot of putting lots of points on the board against a team that has given up at least 23 points in every game this season. But if they throw their fundamentals out the window and settle for field goals, it’ll be Week 7 all over again.
Gil Arcia (3-6): Buccaneers 30, Falcons 17
Mark Cook (4-5): Buccaneers 27, Falcons 16
Scott Reynolds (7-2): Buccaneers 26, Falcons 20