A quick turnaround might be the best thing for the Buccaneers.
After a disappointing loss last Sunday and one that severely damaged its playoff chances, Tampa Bay has no time to dwell on the past. It’s on to a national stage Thursday night to take on the St. Louis Rams in the NFL’s fourth and final Color Rush game of 2015.
The Rams, who will be wearing all yellow, come into the game at 5-8, winning last week against the Lions to snap a five-game losing streak. During that skid, St. Louis’ success on defense and in the running game wasn’t enough to overcome terrible play at the quarterback position. While they rank 19th in average yards allowed (354) and have one of the NFL’s most exciting rookies in Todd Gurley, who’s rushed for 975 yards in 10 games, Nick Foles has struggled mightily and the Rams offense has sputtered as a result.
The key for Tampa Bays’ defense is always to stop the run and make their opponent one-dimensional, but that strategy holds especially true this Thursday.
Whether it’s Bruce Carter, who’s listed as doubtful, or recently re-signed Orie Lemon in the middle spot, all eyes will once again be on the Bucs linebacking corps as Lavonte David and Co. try to slow down Gurley. Tampa Bay will also need players along the injury-riddled defensive line to step up, as Akeem Spence is officially out and Gerald McCoy continues to deal with a hand injury that could cause him to miss a few extra snaps.
Offensively, Tampa Bay has a strong running game of its own. Many expect that Doug Martin, the NFL’s second-leading rusher, will get more carries than he did in last week’s loss and allow for the Bucs to open up the passing game early. Before they can worry about touches, however, Dirk Koetter reminded everyone that they first need to stay on the field. Tampa Bay was 4 of 11 last Sunday on third down, a statistic that needs to change if they plan on a quick rebound.
Records and playoff hopes aside, this game has a lot of excitement around it. From the Rookie of the Year competition between Jameis Winston and Todd Gurley, to the dominant three-technique comparison of Gerald McCoy and Aaron Donald, Thursday Night has matchups within the matchup, and is a game that could reveal plenty about both team’s future when it’s all said and done.
The Bucs have talked all week about ridding themselves of the bad taste left from last Sunday while showing the nation how far they’ve come since their last primetime game. As head coach Lovie Smith said earlier this week, “this isn’t the same old Bucs… now we get an opportunity to show you.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) vs. St. Louis Rams (5-8) Thursday, December 17, 2015, 8:25 p.m. ET
Edward Jones Dome (66,000) Network Television: CBS (WTSP Local) Play-By-Play: Ian Eagle Analyst: Trent Green Sideline: Evan Washburn Bucs Radio: US 103.5, Flagship Station (103.5 FM, 620 AM & 95.3 FM) Play-By-Play: Gene Deckerhoff Analyst: Dave Moore Sideline: T.J. Rives Last Game: Tampa Bay Lost vs. New Orleans, 24-17; St. Louis Won vs. Detroit, 21-15
Pewter Report’s Predictions:
Scott Reynolds: Rams 23-20
Mark Cook: Rams 20-13
Eric Horchy: Bucs 20-16
Zach Shapiro: Bucs 24-20
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: email@example.com
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