Here are my three key matchups when the Bucs are on offense.
Mike Williams vs Johnathan Joseph
Johnathan Joseph is the Houston Texans' best cornerback. The team desperately needed to add some quality cornerbacks in free agency after having a historically bad pass defense a year ago. Johnathan Joseph was that cornerback, and he hasn't disappointed with three interceptions and ten passes defensed so far. The result: the Texans have one of the best defenses in the league.
They have done that by playing predominantly man coverage, and Joseph is most likely to be matched up with Mike Williams. The second-year receiver has had a disappointing year so far, seemingly dropping more balls than catching them. He has also seen a slight uptick in production in recent games, however, and still has the skills he had last year. If the Bucs want to win, they need Mike Williams to finally get out of his slump and win one-on-one vs Johnathan Joseph.
Jeremy Trueblood vs J.J. Watt
With Mario Williams on injured reserve, the Texans' best pass rusher is rookie left defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt is a try-hard player who relies on short-area quickness and power, but doesn't really have the speed to do much damage around the edge. That actually plays to Trueblood's strengths, who struggles with speed but can handle power.
Watt does the most damage in the run game, however, and the Bucs need to get to running the ball to beat the Texans. Trueblood has to show up and win in the run game, while holding his ground in the passing game. Obvious, but essential.
Legarrette Blount vs Brian Cushing
Two years after winning Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing has returned to form. Cushing has performed at a very high level, despite apparently not being on steroids anymore. Cushing will be the key player Legarrette Blount needs to beat to get the offense on track. Can Blount force Cushing to miss some tackles, or will he be curtailed by the third-year linebacker?
Of course, for that to happen Blount will have to fight the score as well. As soon as the Bucs fall behind by two scores, they tend to abandon the run. That can't happen if the Bucs want to find the productive version of their offense. Finally.