The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 1-3 on the season, including an 11-game losing streak at home where the Bucs are 0-2 this year. The Bucs desperately need a win against the 1-3 Jacksonville Jaguars. What are the six things PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds is looking for in Tampa Bay’s upcoming game? Find out right here in SR’s Pick 6.
Who: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Where: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Fla.
When: 1:00 p.m. ET – CBS
Last meeting: 41-14 loss at Jacksonville in 2011
Series notes: Jaguars have an 4-1 advantage over Bucs all-time
1. WIN THE FIRST QUARTER
Tampa Bay’s ship has been sunk by its own mistakes in the first quarter, especially at home where rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown two pick-sixes against Tennessee and Carolina on his first passes of the game. The Bucs have been outscored by a combined 38-6 margin in the first quarter of the last four games and that has forced the team to play catch-up and gotten offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter out of his game plan early.
The Bucs have been emphasizing winning the first quarter all week and getting off to a faster start offensively by protecting the ball and defensively by getting an early takeaway. At some point in time that message has to take hold and it might as well be this week against the 1-3 Jaguars – a very beatable opponent for a Buccaneers team trying to snap an 11-game losing streak at Raymond James Stadium against a team in Jacksonville that has lost 11 straight road games.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
2. BRING THE UP-TEMPO FUNK
Expect the Buccaneers to come out with more of an up-tempo, no-huddle passing attack against the Jaguars this Sunday. Koetter believes Winston has been more effective in an up-tempo style this year, and Winston himself believes that, too. His passes come out faster, his reads are faster and he gets in a better rhythm when he’s going no-huddle. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs come out in no huddle in the first series, as Jacksonville will be selling out to stop the run with eight men in the box and giving Winston an opportunity to move the chains through the air and get into an early rhythm. Don’t believe me? Just watch.
The Jaguars are thinking about doing the same thing as second-year quarterback Blake Bortles has shown he’s a much more effective and accurate passer going up-tempo, too. That means that head coach and defensive play-caller Lovie Smith will need to get his substitutions and his play calls in quickly so they won’t be caught off guard. The Bucs will not only have to execute their own no-huddle well, but they will also have to defend it well.
3. FIRE AWAY, FIRE AWAY
Winston has thrown six of his seven interceptions at Raymond James Stadium, including two pick-sixes, and needs to reduce the number of turnovers after throwing a career-high four picks last week against Carolina. The good news is that the Jaguars only have one interception (middle linebacker Paul Posluszny) through four games and Josh Norman still plays in Carolina – and not Jacksonville. The lack of thieves in the secondary should give Winston added confidence that he can keep firing away downfield.
The fact that Gus Bradley’s defense will gang up to stop Doug Martin and the running game with a safety in the box means that the Jaguars will force Winston to beat them with his arm, which he is capable of doing. Last week, the Jaguars forced Matt Hasselbeck to throw the ball 47 times and held the Colts to just 24 rushing attempts and a 2.5-yard average in a 16-13 road loss in overtime. Winston needs to utilize Martin and Charles Sims on screens as an extension of the Bucs’ running game this week.
Jaguars WRs Allen Robinson (15) and Allen Hurns (88) – Photo by: Getty Images
4. ALLEN WRENCH
The Jaguars will be without Marquise Lee for a second straight game due to a hamstring injury, but it’s truly the Allens the Bucs have to be wary of. Jacksonville wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurd are both 6-foot-3 and over 205 pounds and have stepped up as promising young targets for Bortles this year. Hurns leads the team with 22 catches for 314 yards (14.3 avg.) and two touchdowns, while Robinson has a team-leading 330 yards on 15 catches and has a gaudy 22-yard average along with two touchdowns.
It’s easier to shut down one play-making receiver in the NFL than it is two, and given the fact that Johnthan Banks, Tampa Bay’s best cornerback, hasn’t practiced in two weeks and will likely be out really hurts. The Bucs cornerbacks – Tim Jennings, Alterraun Verner and Mike Jenkins – have all struggled in man coverage and Smith has dialed up man coverage a lot. The Bucs cornerbacks haven’t had an interception all year and that needs to change on Sunday while covering the Allens.
5. TRAMPLE T.J. ON THE WAY TO THE QB
Tampa Bay’s defensive line needs to really step and limit rookie running back T.J. Yeldon’s productivity on first and second down to set up third-and-long situations for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Co. Yeldon had his first 100-yard game last week at Indianapolis and broke off a 36-yard run, which showed his power and speed. Yeldon has rushed for 259 yards on 70 carries (3.7 avg.) and made strides last week in a feature back role.
Tampa Bay has struggled to stop the run this year and is ranked 17th in the league. The Bucs defense can get worn out with a pounding rushing attack, and that’s what happened in a Week 3 loss at Houston. Limiting Yeldon’s production will force the Jaguars to be one-dimensional and give Will Gholston, Jacquies Smith, Clinton McDonald, Henry Melton and McCoy more pass rush opportunities.
Bucs CB Tim Jennings – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
6. WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
Tampa Bay was minus-four in the turnover battle last week and got blown out by Carolina. In fact, the Bucs have only created one takeaway in their three losses this year. In Tampa Bay’s only win, a 26-19 victory at New Orleans, it got multiple takeaways on defense and that is the recipe for success for a team with a young quarterback.
The problem is that the Bucs secondary has produced just one interception (safety Chris Conte) through four games (linebacker Kwon Alexander has the other one) and hasn’t been real great at taking the ball away. The Jaguars have only turned the ball over four times in four games – mostly Bortles interceptions (three) – so the Bucs will have to change that and limit their own mistakes to have a chance at getting an elusive home win.
SR’s Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Jaguars 23
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: [email protected]
Buck win in a low scoring game 16-13. Go Bucs!
Horse- good to have you back in the US
So I’ve had 2 correct picks in a row with losses to Texans and Panthers. In this game, I was going to go with Jags but they have a TON of injuries and are playing their 3rd straight road game. I think the Bucs will dumb things down for JW and make less mistakes and win BIG. TB 28-14
I hope Tampa wins, but at this point they have no one to show them how to win, and in every game they fall back to their default programming: Looking for a way to lose. Jags win 24-13
Penalties were finally down last week. I see Verner with a pick in this game, getting his starting spot back. Barth keeps the momentum rolling with 100% on his kicks and the Bucs win 27-17.
When Banks got injured some weeks ago he said it wasn’t serious. So what happened? Is he sharing a bunk with Verner in Lovie’s dog house?
If the Bucs want to get off to a fast start, maybe Lovie should receive the ball when winning the toss. He trots out his vaunted defense only to give up a score, or flip field position. Very funny.
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“Tampa Bay has struggled to stop the run this year and is ranked 17th in the league.” No that is our rushing rank. Against the rush we are ranked 30th!
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