FAB 4. Bucs at Panthers – 4 Match-ups To Watch

Each week you can find 4 Match-ups to Watch in the Fab 4 section of my SR’s Fab 5 columns. Here is an advanced look at Tampa Bay’s big rematch against the Panthers in Carolina. The Bucs are 6-3 while the Panthers are 3-6, but playing better than their record would indicate. Tampa Bay can’t afford to lose this game and fall behind in the NFC South with a 1-3 record.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis III vs. Panthers WR Robby Anderson

Davis is playing at a Pro Bowl level this year and is tied for the league lead with four interceptions, including one against Carolina in Week 2. Through the first nine games, Anderson has recorded more yards against Davis than any other receiver has. In a 31-17 loss to Tampa Bay in Week 2, Anderson had nine catches for 109 yards (12.1 avg.), including three catches for 73 yards against Davis. Anderson’s 39-yard catch against Davis was the longest reception Davis has surrendered all year.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis III

Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: USA Today

Davis has a 73.3 overall grade and a 71.4 coverage grade this season from PFF, and did a reasonably good job against Anderson and Carolina. As previously stated, Davis only allowed three catches for 73 yards all day – all of which came from Anderson – and recorded an interception against Teddy Bridgewater. Anderson, who has a 78.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, has been held in check over the last two weeks with five catches for 48 yards against Atlanta and nine catches for 63 yards against Kansas City. Davis will need to continue that trend and shut down Anderson, as he did before when he held the Panthers’ best receiving option to a 64 grade in Week 2.
ADVANTAGE: Davis

Bucs LT Donovan Smith vs. Panthers EDGE Brian Burns

Carolina has really struggled to get the quarterback this year and has just nine sacks on the year. Burns leads the way with three sacks nine QB hits and 19 hurries while earning an 85 overall grade from PFF and a 90.5 pass rush grade in 2020. Burns can play either side, but should see more action at right end going against Smith in the Bucs vs. Panthers rematch. In Week 2, Burns had an 81.2 PFF grade and a 78.9 pass rush grade with four tackles and two hurries.

Bucs LT Donovan Smith

Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Smith really struggled against New Orleans last week allowing a sack and six quarterback pressures. He didn’t play that great against Carolina in Week 2, either, giving up a pressure and a penalty while earning a 58.1 Week 2 grade from PFF and a 54.2 pass protection grade against Carolina. For the season, Smith has a 69.5 overall PFF grade and a 67.8 pass protection grade. He’ll need to play much better than he did on Sunday and closer to his season average against Burns, who is quick and agile and can hit Smith with a speed rush outside and a stutter step move inside.
ADVANTAGE: Burns

Bucs WR Mike Evans vs. Panthers CB Donte Jackson

Evans got the best of Jackson in Week 2, catching three passes for 36 yards and a key touchdown against him in coverage. Since the departure of James Bradberry to New York in free agency, Jackson has been elevated to the top cornerback in Carolina, but his level of play hasn’t been anywhere close to that of Bradberry’s. Jackson had a 62.3 PFF overall grade and coverage grade in Week 2, and did come away with an interception in zone coverage. Still, he’ll need to play better against Evans and keep him out of the end zone if the Panthers are going to prevail in the rematch.

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Evans totaled 104 yards and one touchdown on seven catches against Carolina. He had a 79.3 PFF grade in Week 2, which was his highest of the year. Evans has had a rough year from a statistical standpoint and is on pace to fall short of 800 yards receiving. He’s better than Jackson and should dominate this match-up. It’s been over a month since Evans has had a 100-yard game and he should hit the century mark in Carolina.
ADVANTAGE: Evans

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett vs. Panthers RT Taylor Moton

Moton had a decent game against Barrett in Week 2, giving up a season-high three hurries and earning a 66.6 overall grade from PFF, but not surrendering a sack. Moton has an overall grade of 77.8 from PFF, including a 74.9 pass block grade and a 73.3 run block grade. The key for Moton and Carolina’s offense will be to remain balanced with some power running from Mike Davis, who will start in place of Christian McCaffrey, and stay out of third-and-long situations.

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Barrett has had a rough year from a sack production standpoint after notching an NFL-high 19.5 sacks last year he has just four this year, which is tied with Ndamukong Suh for third on the team. He had one last week against New Orleans, but didn’t record one against Moton in Week 2 versus Carolina. Barrett grades out well this year with a 70.7 overall grade from PFF, including a 77.4 pass rush grade. Barrett actually had his lowest grade of the year in Week 2 against Moton with a 47.8 overall grade from PFF and 65.3 pass rush grade while notching five tackles, three hurries and one penalty. Barrett needs to get back to his Pro Bowl form quickly and win a few more one-on-ones against Moton in Carolina.
ADVANTAGE: Moton

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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stlbucsfan
11 months ago

The Bucs start slow because we dont have any variety to our passing attack, its either down the field or check passes to our RBs who go down at the first sight of contact. We dont use Evans on slants despite his big body, or Scotty Miller on screen passes and other plays that are timing plays that keep the chains moving AND help get Brady in a rhythm. Brady needs to get his ball placement better for Evans and that connection should be fine. No QB has ever had any issues getting him the ball so if Tom is… Read more »

bucballer
Reply to  stlbucsfan
11 months ago

I agree stlbucfan. It’s the coaching, plain and simple. 3rd and 3 and u have a 4 WR set with 3 of them running deep routes! WTF! Look, I like BA. But I wonder if his day has passed? He should’ve bitched out BL on that call alone. Some Head Coaches would’ve been so pissed that they would’ve took over playing calling duties, at least for one or two series, due to BL lack of knowledge of his talent and putting them in the best position to succeed. It’s not a talent problem. It’s a coaching problem. How do u… Read more »

stlbucsfan
Reply to  bucballer
11 months ago

Yep, this coaching staff is whats failing this team and I think its ridiculous considering the size of the staff. Bowles doesnt consistently put the defense in position to win. A soft game plan against the Giants almost lead to our demise and then he comes out with the same back on our heels approach with Brees and he torched us. The offense was finally finding its stride with Rojo pounding the rock and then us going play action off of it and then boom he drops ONE catch and hes benched, Fournettes in and we are back in empty… Read more »

The Wall
Reply to  stlbucsfan
11 months ago

I agree about the coaching staff. When you can’t protect the quarterback, you can’t be going for the big shot down field. Why not adjust and let Brady do what Brady does best? Might be spitballing here but I think Brady has had a bit more success than Arians and Leftwich.
I guess Bowles was relying on a better pass rush. It just didn’t happen. I thought I even saw a three man rush.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  bucballer
11 months ago

Can you imagine this offensive roster if someone like Andy Reid was the coach? My god, they probably wouldn’t lose a single game.

drdneast
Reply to  eaustinyoung
11 months ago

Fantastic point!

BigSombrero
Reply to  eaustinyoung
11 months ago

First thing Andy Reid would do is get rid of Brady, Evans, McCoy, Gronk, and Fournette. They are either old/slow or don’t fit his style of playmakers.

Reid isn’t a fan of pocket statues. He has favored mobility and big arms in a QB since Cunningham.

eaustinyoung
11 months ago

Arians is a good coach but he’s never taken the step into “great” or “elite”. Mainly because he doesn’t seem to want to adjust his 30 year old offense. Brady has done a lot with a lot less. I lean more towards Brady being able to adjust his play over Arians. Arians/Leftwich and Brady need to bend-not-break or the season will go down as one of the biggest flops in NFL history.

bucballer
Reply to  eaustinyoung
11 months ago

Seriously, I’m asking, what makes BA even a good coach at this point? No seriously, tell me. I like the guy, but damn man. It certainly doesn’t look like a man who is in n charge of his team!

eaustinyoung
Reply to  bucballer
11 months ago

He has had all of his success as an OC or interim coach. He choked away plenty of big opportunities in Arizona. He hasn’t shown that he has what it takes to win the big games. The 1 PM piddly games sure…but those primetime games when the world is watching, he crumbles and just looks stupid on the sidelines. Prepare for a brutal affair next Monday against the Rams. Recipe for disaster.

Madman
11 months ago

Tired of hearing how Barrett is playing just as well as last year but just isn’t getting the sacks. Dude is clearly overweight and a step slower.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Madman
11 months ago

Exactly. High-level pass rushers still find a way to get to the QB. JPP, Mack, Jordan, Bosa, Miller, etc. They get to where they need to be even if it’s difficult. At some point he *will* need sacks to be a top-level OLB. There’s no sugar coating it.

bucballer
Reply to  eaustinyoung
11 months ago

Barrett is a good player. Not a great one though. He does do other things that don’t show up in the stats. I know this. But if we would have paid him elite money last year based on his season, it would be a contract we would live to regret. In the end, sack masters sack the opposing QB… that’s what they r paid to do. Barrett has been exposed. He is a good player but not elite. Last season was an aberration, not the normal.

Last edited 11 months ago by bucballer
eaustinyoung
Reply to  bucballer
11 months ago

Bowles using him in poor schemes seemingly at a whim doesn’t help. No idea why they would change the formula if it works… it’s like the coaches second-guess themselves week-to-week.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Madman
11 months ago

You’re not going to get a lot of sacks against offenses like New Orleans with their short passing game that gets the ball out of Brees’ hands quickly – the same kind of passing game that TB-12 wants to play, but apparently is being saddled instead with Bruce Arians’ big passing play offense. Particularly when our offense starts so slow that opposing offenses get a lead and are able to mix run and pass, obviously providing fewer opportunities for the pass rush. NO is the model for how to beat the Bucs. If other teams follow the model and have… Read more »

bucballer
11 months ago

Differing philosophies is another way of saying they r not on the same page or even in agreement of the scheme or playing calling. If BA is going to continue to allow BL to call plays then BL should defer to the Goat as to which play is most effective! It’s a shame that we r more than half way through the season and BA and BL can’t figure it out! It’s the coaching!

Horse
11 months ago

Sorry Scott, but all this has been covered before on Pewter Report these last 5 days. I’ll make an observation? Could it be since we are more than half way through the season Brady’s arm has lost a little zip & accuracy; some of the 30 (or close to 30) and over players are showing wear & tear, resulting in loss of speed & quickness; there’s enough tape on us that teams know how to beat us if we do the same ole same ole; coaches are paid to coach which means unpredictable changes in their schemes. If we lose… Read more »

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Horse
11 months ago

Honestly fuck the big-play game. If Brady doesn’t have the strength to throw 40 yard bombs, they need to switch to a dink-and-dunk West Coast offense. If Brees can do it, so can Brady.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  eaustinyoung
11 months ago

The only saving grace is if Brady starts audibling and taking control of the offense. Im done with “no risk it, biscuit”. Its out dated and it shows.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
11 months ago

It worked when 42 TDs and 25 INTs was elite. But that’s now how the game is anymore. It’s speed and accuracy over pure arm strength.

matador
Reply to  Horse
11 months ago

Give me a freaking break. Brady has been a Super Bow winning machine but like every other QB he struggles when under heavy pressure. We don’t have the OL he needs, courtesy of Jason Bust Licht. Wirfs was a great selection but one 1st rounder on the OL every half dozen years doesn’t get the job done. If we had a good line we’d be going deep into the playoffs. Without one we may not even make it in.

Naplesfan
Reply to  matador
11 months ago

Funny, the entire league and NFL commentariat was congratulating the Bucs for having the best offensive line in football just 7 days ago.

Then Marpet gets concussed out of one game and now you’re suddenly claiming it’s the worst O-line Brady has ever played behind?

SMH .. you guys just slay me

Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
11 months ago

Arm strength does not deteriorate game to game unless an injury is involved. It only slowly drops off year to year.

So the answer to your question is “no”.

Arians needs to adjust his offense to what TB-12 is best at. Or he should retire. Period.

Eddie
11 months ago

“Just throw it to him,” Arians said. An article in Yahoo quote the coach referring to Mike Evans. Is there all a head coach of NFL has to say? We are in trouble

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Eddie
11 months ago

Forcing throws looks cool on the offensive stat sheet but Jameis’s ungodly amount of turnovers came from somewhere. Arians has this old college style “just throw it 50-50 and we will beat you on skill” mentality and that’s NOT what the current NFL is. It’s a precision game now, not just SportsCenter highlight plays constantly.

EastEndBoy
11 months ago

Motion > Barrett….that speaks volumes…how can the guy who led the league in sacks with nearly 20 last year not even get the advantage over some RT nobody outside of CAR has ever heard of. Somethings’s broken.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  EastEndBoy
11 months ago

Thought the same thing. That’s so backwards its insane. Barrett should be licking his chops to get at a no-name Tackle. They should be shaking in their boots at the thought of him Sunday. Imagine if it was Khalil Mack.

PatrioticChief
11 months ago

Brady is a good not great quarterback. Good not great quarterbacks are not going to sit in the pocket, getting pressured by 4 on 50%+ snaps, while standing tall and hurling the ball deep into coverage. And you want to know what? Most great quarterbacks aren’t doing that either. I get that there are things the Bucs players needed to execute better but they were put into a position to fail on both sides of the ball. Does anyone really think this defense is that bad? Does anyone really think the offense is that bad? They looked like they did… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by PatrioticChief
Captain Sly
Reply to  PatrioticChief
11 months ago

“Brady is a good QB not a great QB”. Probably letting your anger cloud better judgment in what was otherwise a decent take. 6 SB 3 MVP 14 Pro Bowl is pretty daunting for average QB.

BigSombrero
Reply to  Captain Sly
11 months ago

That was then, this is now.

matador
Reply to  BigSombrero
11 months ago

Ass Hat. You were singing his praises before this, and crapping on him before that. You’re probably a plant to drive up page views and BAB was probably one before you. Go away.

Captain Sly
Reply to  matador
11 months ago

Somehow you want to keep blaming Brady for what’s clearly poor coaching. Even at age 43 Brady is still a top 5 passer this year and is propping up an old Out Dated offense that Arians refuses to adjust. It doesn’t matter who the QB is he will never succeed standing in a “collapsing pocket” waiting for “chunk plays”. Smart play callers know how to adjust there scheme to what the defenses are doing and so far Arians/Leftwich can’t seem to do that.

Naplesfan
Reply to  BigSombrero
11 months ago

You will forever remain a bad commenter and a troll on this site.

matador
Reply to  PatrioticChief
11 months ago

Wow you are a complete idiot. Brady is who he has always been. And that was great enough to lead his team to more SB’s than anyone else. We are still a work in process as a team. That’s on JBL and BA and his delegates. Not the GOAT.

PatrioticChief
Reply to  matador
11 months ago

Edelman is that you? But let’s be serious. My entire rant was that the coaching staff and protection is letting Brady down. How did you take that as me dunking on Brady? My position on Brady has also been consistent from the start. Brady is elite in a clean pocket. He can out duel anyone. He hasn’t been elite under pressure for two and half years now. Brady isn’t going to get pressured on almost 45% of his snaps and put up 500 yards like he did against the Eagles. That’s not him anymore. Brady was pressured by 4 guys… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by PatrioticChief
Naplesfan
Reply to  PatrioticChief
11 months ago

Big Sombrero (OKA “Big Asshole”), is that you?

Naplesfan
Reply to  PatrioticChief
11 months ago

Bullshit.

PissedOffBuc1988
11 months ago

Arians needs to go. He’s washed up and can’t coach effectively. Bowels is on my shot list as he’s becoming softer as the weeks go on. Something has got to give. I’m done with my hopes getting ripped apart by piss poor schemes and lack of effort. This team is soft until further notice.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
11 months ago

Malcom Glazer and Rich McKay had an eye for talent. At some point the revolving door of formerly-successful coaches coming here to die (Lovie Smith and Bruce Arians most notably in the last 10 years) comes down to ownership. Look at Jerryworld and the debacle that is Mike “stuck in 2005” McCarthy.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
11 months ago

Meanwhile, the Panthers went out on a limb for a relative no-namer college coach who looks like he’s a few key pieces/plays away from making Carolina an instant playoff team. Sometimes fresh blood > resume.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  eaustinyoung
11 months ago

I completely agree. Why can’t we do that? Also, tampa needs to draft a QB. I’m already done with Brady. Idc what his resume is, he’s done. Cut the cord and move on after the season. Fire Arians and bring in a coach that is young and has fresh ideas. Also, draft some offensive lineman and cut smith. Honestly, I’m cool with trading some players for draft picks. Not everyone, but a semi blow-up is needed because we are lacking elictric talent at the QB position and that’s what the NFL is going towards. We need it here in Tampa.… Read more »

eaustinyoung
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
11 months ago

All of that frustration comes back to ownership. They risk in poor ways (throwing the bank at a short-term experiment for an all-Madden team) and are too conservative in other ways (doing literally NOTHING to fix the Donavan Smith problem).

I mean it took what…4 years to finally get a kicker worth a damn? What other team has THAT problem. That’s like trying to figure out how to put gas in your car but paying $15,000 for a custom paint job.

drdneast
11 months ago

Let’s see, how many SB’s does Brady have? How many does BA have. With that being the case I suggest BA and that idiot Lefty let Brady have the plays he is comfortable with not the ones they are. What a waste of incredible talent we are going to have here if we have another inflexible coach who won’t adjust his offense to fit the QB and the defense you are facing. And make no mistake about it, the Saints knew exactly what was going to come at them as they seemed to be sitting on the routes and which… Read more »

BigSombrero
11 months ago

SR hit the nail in the head with his assessment of contrasting styles between Arians and Brady.

I’ve always thought Brady didn’t make sense in this offense for that reason, amongst others.

Time will tell if Arians changes to the McDaniels offense or if Tom embraces throwing the ball deep to Evans.

76bucsfan46
11 months ago

If our coaches don’t get their act together we will be 7-9

Spitfire
11 months ago

Totally agree that Arians needs to take a serious look at the playbook and Tell Leftwich that he needs to go with whatever Brady is comfortable with. He didn’t have success by being forced to do something he’s not comfortable with. Let Brady call what he wants, give him 2 short options and let him do what he does best. Short passing game has made Brees career, it works as good as play action, if you take what they give you they will cover short and then you take your shots. Leftwich does not know better than Brady, I think… Read more »

matador
11 months ago

BA is not the GOAT. And he’s not even fully running the team. Give Brady the plays and setups he needs to be successful. He’s the one who knows how to win championships. End of story.

bucballer
11 months ago

It’s time the Bucs hire a consultant when BA steps up to front office in a ceremonial role. Find an up and coming young coach… our own John Gruden if u will. Who has the dynamic offenses in college football these days? U know, there r doing it year in and year out no matter where they coach. No retreads. New, young dynamic offensive mind and take a chance. Consultant or advisor if u will… a football guy…we do have some talent to build on when the next wave of veterans retire. We have all seen how a QB can… Read more »

scubog
11 months ago

Wow! You guys sure are wound up. Guess the 38 and 45 points the team put on the Packers and Raiders are “canceled” by the Saints debacle. We got out-coached, out-schemed and out-played in that out-housed of a game. Shit happens! It’s like we were headed down the path to the promised land (Super Bowl) with pretty good game-plans and then someone suggested a detour against the Saints. Same thing happened to the Donner Party when they took that shortcut across the desert and ended up eating each other. At 6 dash 3, I’m not quite ready to start perusing… Read more »

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  scubog
11 months ago

The problem is that we got completely dismantled in every aspect of football. We have “the GOAT” (which is quickly being taken over by Mahomes), Mike evans, Godwin, gronk, fournette, now brown, and we still saw it all not matter. I am sick and tired of being manhandled by the effing saints. yes, we are 6-3, but a ton of holes were exposed. Now we have a 43 year old qb that needs an absolute clean pocket to make plays, in an offensive scheme that requires him to hold onto the ball for 5-6 seconds. That’s not going to work.… Read more »

Captain Sly
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
11 months ago

Hear, Hear!

plopes808
11 months ago

Everyone needs to relax, the last 2 losses were followed by immediate improvement. The Chicago game in particular resulted in a BIG turnaround on the turnover front. Let’s not forget the 3 big performances that followed before the Saints game. I get it, everyone is upset as we should be. But all of this “Brady isn’t that good and the coaching staff is horrible” is just emotions. Yes, the coaching staff sh*t the bed as far as scheme on this one. Yes, Brady was under duress the entire game and couldn’t get anything going, but that was a result of… Read more »