Written by Cody Manning, @CodyTalksNFL
The first season under Bruce Arians hasn’t gotten off to the greatest start, despite showing some improvement on both sides of the ball compared to the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The offense holds a deadly passing attack, but Jameis Winston still struggles to protect the ball and they can’t seem to get the ground game going. The defensive front seven have done a great job at stuffing the run while getting some pressure on the quarterback, but they still struggle to slow down the opposing team’s passing game. Tampa is sitting at a 2-5 record in the NFC which currently has 10 teams with a record of .500 or better, so they will need to start winning games and hope things fall their way if they even want a shot at the Wildcard. If they do, then it starts this Sunday, so here are my Top 5 things I want to see from the Bucs against the Seahawks:
1. Can the defense limit the Russell Wilson-Tyler Lockett connection?
Wilson and Lockett have been an unstoppable duo over the past two seasons as they have been able to connect on some magical plays. Lockett is Wilson’s safety valve and if Todd Bowles can find a way to keep the two from making plays on Sunday then it can help his defense slow down the Seahawks offense. It will be a difficult task for a young struggling defense, but it is a necessary need if the Bucs want to give themselves the best chance to win. It will be interesting to see if Bowles puts this on his secondary or tries to create as much pressure as he can with his defensive front.
2. Will Jameis Winston take advantage of the weak secondary?
Matt Schaub threw for 460 yards against the Seahawks last week, yes you read that right, a 38-year-old backup quarterback threw all over the Seattle defense. Their secondary has struggled throughout the 2019 season and is one of their weaker points of the team. If the Bucs want a chance to pull this one off, then they need to attack them through the air, similar to what they did against the Los Angeles Rams earlier in the season. Winston needs to put together a complete game where he gets all the production, but not turning the ball over in the process. If he has a big afternoon in the Northwest then he will give Tampa a chance to pull off the upset.
3. Can the defense put their offense in a position to succeed?
The Bucs can’t afford to fall behind early to a team like the Seahawks and force Winston into playing ‘hero ball’ because that is when he typically starts to make his costly mistakes. The defense has 12 turnovers on the season, but it hasn’t helped lead to the victories that they would like to see right now. If the defense can get some turnovers or force 3-and-outs, then they can give their offense great field position to work with. It will be on the offense to take advantage of it, but if they can keep Wilson off the field then it enhances the Bucs chances to walk away with a win.
4. Who is the guy beyond Mike Evans and Chris Godwin?
Evans has 38 receptions on the season, while Godwin has 47 receptions, outside those two, the next player with the most receptions on the season is Dare Ogunbowale, who has 17. OJ Howard was the assumed third guy in the Tampa passing attack, but he hasn’t been used much within the offensive scheme and is set to miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury. Breshad Perriman has been a disappointment since signing in the offseason and nobody has stepped up when he was out some games dealing with an injury. This offense needs somebody outside their WR duo to take their game to the next level. Who will that be? Does it happen on Sunday?
5. Is the team going to give their fans hope for the 2nd half?
The last time the Bucs played at home, they lost to the New York Giants in Daniel Jones’ NFL debut and since then they haven’t given anything for their fans to look forward to when they return to Raymond James Stadium in Week 10. Coming from someone that spent 4 seasons working with the team, that stadium gets emptier as the season goes along when the team lets the fans down and struggles. While a win in Seattle would give them a 3-5 record, an impressive win could give their fanbase some type of hope that they can build on. If they lose to the Seahawks and fall to 2-6, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a light turnout when they return home against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10.