Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White played all 67 defensive snaps against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 of the 2019 NFL regular season. Despite coming in third on the team with six tackles, the Bucs were unable to defend their home stadium to open the season.
Moving on now to their first road game of the year, White will lead Todd Bowles’ defense onto the field in Charlotte, North Carolina as they try to send the Carolina Panthers to an 0-2 start while avoiding the same fate.
In order to do so, the Bucs are going to have to withstand a heavy dose of running back Christian McCaffrey, which makes White our Tampa Bay Buccaneers X-Factor for Week 2.
There was a lot of conversation centered around keeping McCaffrey fresh throughout the season as the Panthers try to re-establish themselves as a contender in the NFC.
Well, in their Week 1 loss to the Loss Angeles Rams, McCaffrey played 100% of the team’s offensive snaps (67).
Of those snaps, McCaffrey touched the ball 30 times and netted a total of 209-yards with two rushing touchdowns.
I can’t believe the Carolina Panthers want to keep getting McCaffrey 30 touches per game, but going up against the Rams in Week 1 in a tight battle the team obviously saw value in keeping their star running back involved throughout the game.
Coming into Week 2, Panthers coaches are probably hoping for an early lead - an early multi-score lead at that, so they can rest their franchise running back and avoid some of the usual wear and tear players in his position tend to take.
This is where Devin White and company come into play.
In Week 1, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense allowed San Francisco 49ers running backs to run for a combined total of 100-yards on 30 carries (3.3 yards per carry). Including receptions, 49ers running backs touched the football 35 times for 103-yards and no touchdowns.
So the Bucs defense held the 49ers backfield to fewer yards and scores on five more touches than McCaffrey put up against the Rams. Good news. Bad news is, none of the 49ers running backs is Christian McCaffrey.
‘Run-CMC’ as he’s called, represents a completely different challenge than the one they faced with San Francisco. A fact the team has acknowledged greatly, and that Bailey Adams of Bucs Nation recorded earlier this week.
In two games last year against the defense formerly known as Tampa Bay’s, McCaffrey gained over 150-yards in each game and scored a total of three touchdowns with two coming on the ground in Week 9.
McCaffrey has faced the Bucs four times up to this point in his career, and was held under 100-yards of offense in each of his rookie efforts back in 2017. Tampa Bay won both games.
Like most players though, year three McCaffrey is different than year one was. Fortunately, this defense appears to be much different than the one he faced in 2018 as well.
Early in the game, the Bucs defense fell victim to a few misdirection plays from the 49ers but adjusted well and played discipline defense containing the team’s playmakers for most of the day.
A similar effort will be required, and will be led by White. Fortunately for White, he’ll have veteran teammate Lavonte David manning the middle of the field with him, along with Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston looking to build off of their strong Week 1 performances as well.
No division win is ever an easy one. And a Week 2 contest against this Carolina Panthers offense is going to be a tough task for the defense. But if Devin White can put his unit in the right places, make the right adjustments, and come up with just a couple of big plays against one of the league’s best running backs, then this team can walk out of Charlotte with their first win of the season.