TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers walks off the field after the season opener against the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Here are my three key matchups this week on offense.
Jared Allen vs Donald Penn
With Kevin Williams out the Vikings pass rush is much diminished, but Jared Allen all by himself can wreak havoc in a backfield. The last time Donald Penn played Jared Allen he did a good job containing him, but that says little about the upcoming matchup. If the Bucs want to be able to pass consistently they need Donald Penn to at least slow down Allen.
That's not the only matchup on the offensive line that should concern the Bucs, though, as left defensive end Brian Robison is no slouch. Jeremy Trueblood will have his hands full against the fifth-year player, although Trueblood did not look horrible against Cliff Avril last week.
Josh Freeman vs Tampa 2
The Minnesota Vikings are one of the few teams to run a mostly Tampa 2-based defense. The defense that the Bucs made famous has largely disappeared from the NFL as a base defense, but not so in Minnesota. The Minnesota defense is not a difficult defense to decipher, although they showed more blitzes last week than they have in recent years.
The key to beating a Tampa 2 defense is execution: take what the defense gives you, do it quickly, and do it consistently. Josh Freeman needs to be on point to do so, get the ball out of his hands quickly and throw it accurately.
Kellen Winslow vs E.J. Henderson
One problem the Tampa 2 defense addressed was the void in zones in the middle of the field. The middle linebacker is asked to drop deep and guard against seam routes, especially to tight ends. But with E.J. Henderson either not playing or playing at less than 100%, there's an opening for the Bucs to exploit there. We could all see last week what happens when someone less adapt at coverage is charged with covering the middle of the field.