Written by Cody Manning, @CodyTalksNFL
The Bucs are coming off a big road win against the Carolina Panthers and will be looking to continue that momentum at home against the Giants. The defense looked impressive as they were able to bottle up Christian McCaffrey and found ways to generate pressure to get sacks on Cam Newton. The offense wasn’t overly impressive, but Jameis Winston was able to leave the game without a turnover and Chris Godwin was a chain-mover. Godwin was the bright spot for that unit. With Drew Brees going down with an injury, the NFC South lead is up for grabs. Tampa has to take advantage of it. Here are my Top 5 things I want to see from them against New York:
1. Can Todd Bowles and his defense ruin Daniel Jones’ debut?
In case you have missed the big news, the Giants have decided to bench Eli Manning in favor of their #6 overall pick, Daniel Jones. It will be interesting to see how Jones performs after looks pretty good during his time in the preseason. I expect that Bowles is spending the week coming up with some exotic looks that will confuse the rookie quarterback. He will look to create that pressure on Jones and try to force him to make bad decisions which should help lead to turnovers. The Bucs defense has to take advantage of a young player making his first start on the road.
2. Can Jameis Winston start a no turnover streak?
While Winston did finish the Carolina matchup without a turnover, he did throw what could have been an interception that was dropped by the Panthers defender. The biggest key for Tampa to win games to grab ahold of the NFC South counts on Winston to leave games without an interception or lost fumble. If he can do that while managing the game and taking his shots when he needs to, then I like the Bucs chances at winning games. The Giants have a weak secondary so this offers him a favorable chance to starting this streak.
3. Can Shaq Barrett be that consistent pass rusher for Tampa?
After struggling to generate pressure on the quarterback in Week 1, Barrett provided the Bucs some hope in that department against the Panthers with his 3 sacks. He was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week with that performance. Tampa needs a consistent pass rusher and Barrett could possibly be that player in 2019. With Daniel Jones making his debut, then Barrett should be salivating at frustrating the rookie all afternoon. If he can continue his play throughout the season then it will be a major boost if Tampa gets JPP later on in 2019.
4. Will O.J. Howard emerge?
Howard is one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL, but his 2019 season has been off to a rocky start. After getting only 4 catches for 32 yards and fumbling the ball away against the 49ers, he managed to receive 0 targets against the Panthers. Bruce Arians tends to not involve tight ends within his offensive system, but I assume Howard is too talented for him not to be involved in the weekly gameplan. If Tampa wants their offense to reach their full potential then they need to find a way to get him more targets. He can help stretch the field and open things up for the running game. If they’re not going to use him properly, then I wonder if they should just shop him around to get some type of value out of him.
5. Can the defense bottle up Saquon Barkley like they did CMC?
The Bucs found a way to limit Christian McCaffrey to 53 total yards and most importantly a 4th down stop that helped seal the victory. If Tampa wants to win this matchup then they are going to have to do their best to help limit Barkley and his big playmaking ability. With Jones getting his first start, it is safe to assume that Pat Shurmur is going to want to lean on Barkley as much as possible to make it easier on his rookie quarterback. If Todd Bowles can get his defense to shut down Barkley for most of the game and put the game on Jones, then the Bucs have to love their chances of leaving with a win on Sunday.