The Buccaneers had a big test last week facing off against stud running back Christian McCaffrey. Now, they face an even bigger, stronger, and faster test in Saquon Barkley. The Bucs know that’s exactly where their focus should lie and how important it will be to limit Barkley’s production in order to come away victorious.
Bruce Arians spoke about Barkely during his meeting with the media Wednesday;
“Gap integrity is huge. We can’t have guys trying to do too much because he’ll find that spot, and we have to do a great job of tackling. That was what I thought the best thing we did the other night against [Christian] McCaffrey, was we got a lot of hats to the ball. Vernon [Hargreaves III] made the great play at the end, but during the game we had a lot of hats running to the ball. That, and then take care of those short passes where they get him out in space – I think he’s more dangerous there than anywhere.”
Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh knows how important stopping the run will be and just how good Barkley is;
“Saquon is an elite back – one of the reasons he was a top draft pick. It’s going to be a big challenge for us. Week in and week out, we’ve got to stop the run – that is most important – and then we have to get after the passer.”
Facing off against rookie quarterback Daniel Jones will be interesting, to say the least. Since the only film the Bucs will have to go off of is his college tape and limited preseason snaps. Obviously, the Giants will lean heavily on Barkely, but Jones will have to make some plays if New York is going to have a chance.
The Bucs have to stick to their game plan of stopping the run game first and worrying about the quarterback later. Arians said Wednesday that the change for New York changes nothing about their approach to the game;
“No, we’ll just get ready for their offense. It changes our pass rush thinking, because this guy’s real mobile and he’s a heck of a runner – he’s a hell of an athlete. There might be a read option or two, although I doubt Pat [Shurmur] puts him in danger of getting hurt running the ball much. I think those are always threatening things that could happen in a ball game that you have to prepare for mentally.”
It’s hard to call a week three game a “must win” but the Buccaneers won’t have another game in Raymond James Stadium after this one until November 10. During that road stretch, they will travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams as well as heading to New Orleans, Seattle, Tennessee, and a trip to London to face the Panthers. Setting out for that kind of road trip sitting at 2-1 as opposed to 1-2 could prove crucial for the Bucs down the line.