clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Falcons - Buccaneers: Three key matchups when the Bucs are on defense

Here are my three key matchups when the Bucs are on defense. 

Aqib Talib vs Roddy White
With Julio Jones faltering early this season and Harry Douglas being nothing more than a complementary receiver, the Falcons are back where they were last year: with only one real receiving threat and no deep passing game. So much for that immediate return on a massive investment. 

But Roddy White is still a very capable player, and has the ability to beat a team almost single-handedly. Which is why the Buccaneers must find a way to stop Roddy White. That starts with Aqib Talib, who will likely shadow Roddy White throughout the game. Roddy White has averaged four catches for 48 yards and no touchdowns against the Bucs, and if Talib can keep him to that number they can be satisfied.

Adrian Clayborn vs Sam Baker
The whole Atlanta Falcons offensive line has looked bad these past two weeks, but left tackle Sam Baker has really been abused by Julius Peppers and Trent Cole. Of course, Adrian Clayborn is neither Peppers nor Cole but he has looked pretty good in a Buccaneer uniform so far. He's shown both power and quickness as a pass rusher, while doing a very good job holding the point in run defense. 

I don't expect Clayborn to dominate Baker the way Cole did, but Clayborn has the ability to give him a very rough day. Baker specifically struggled with Cole's power, and that's something Clayborn can come close to replicating. This will be a very interesting matchup, and it will also tell us something about the progression of the Bucs' first-round pick. 

Bucs linebackers and safeties vs Tony Gonzalez
Like Roddy White, Gonzalez has never really destroyed the Buccaneers. But like White, he does have the ability to take over a football game. He was a major problem for the Philadelphia Eagles last week, and with Mason Foster at middle linebacker the Bucs could certainly struggle to stop him this week. 

Which is where Ronde Barber comes in. In the past the Bucs have generally used Barber to stop Gonzalez on passing downs, and Barber has performed admirably in those cases. 

The Falcons themselves can remedy this by staying in their base offense, forcing Ronde Barber out wide to cover Julio Jones. That would leave either a safety or a linebacker on Tony Gonzalez, and Gonzalez should win such a matchup most of the time. Stopping Gonzalez could be crucial to stopping the Falcons passing offense.