The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) will take on the New York Giants (0-2) this week. The Bucs were able to pull off a big win against the Panthers last week and will host a reeling Giants team at home.
New York already made the switch from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones, so there is obviously a sense of urgency up there right now.
There will be plenty to watch for on Sunday. Can the Bucs’ offense improve against a pretty bad Giants’ defense? Can the defense continue to flex its collective muscle(s)?
Fortunately for you, I can help guide your viewing needs on Sunday.
1. Need More Pass Rush
If Christopher Walken were a Bucs fan, he would demand more pass rush from this team.
The Bucs are tied for 20th in the NFL with four team sacks. In case you didn’t know, Shaquil Barrett has all four sacks. They need more from everyone else not named Shaquil Barrett. He has been great, but the rest of the team has been mediocre, at best.
Vita Vea has done a great job of collapsing the pocket and pushing his assignments around, but it’s not allowing his defensive teammates to get the quarterback. They have to take more advantage of the 1-v-1 matchups that Vea creates on the field.
There are encouraging signs of improvement, though. According to NextGen Stats, Vea (4.36 yards) was the only Buc that has stayed under the average pressure distance from the QB at the time of the passer throw (4.49) against the 49ers. But Barrett (3.93) and Carl Nassib (4.4) joined Vea (4.18) against the Panthers, with Ndamukong Suh (4.7) not too far behind.
Tampa Bay also only recorded one quarterback hurry against the 49ers, but upped that number to six against the Panthers.
The Giants offensive line isn’t that good and the Bucs should take advantage of that this week.
2. An OJ Howard/Mike Evans resurgence?
Evans hasn’t been a disappointment, but Howard sure has been one so far this season. It’s still early, but this has arguably been Howard’s worst two games of his career. Evans made some nice catches against the Panthers and should’ve had a touchdown, so he’s making plays, but he hasn’t been the consistent playmaker we’ve seen since his arrival in Tampa Bay.
But that could all change this weekend. The Giants had issues stopping the combination of Ben Jarwin and Jason Witten in Week One. The Cowboys’ tight ends combined for six receptions, 54 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets. The Bills didn’t do much, but they aren’t known for involving their tight ends in the passing game, anyway. Buffalo has targeted its tight ends a combined six times through two games.
The Bills also struggle with big plays in the passing game. They’ve already allowed 9 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Those numbers include three touchdowns allowed, as well.
It’s not like the Bucs aren’t looking for Evans. He’s been targeted 14 times through two games and his average depth of target has been about 17.2 air yards.
If the offensive line continues to improve and gives Jameis Winston time to throw, then there’s no reason to think these two can’t have a big day.
3. First Down Offense
I’m just going to put it bluntly: The Giants’ first down defense is dog doo-doo.
So far, they’ve allowed a 16/22 for 256 yards and three touchdown stat line through the air and they’ve allowed a 22 carries for 106 yards and one touchdown on the ground when it comes to first down.
It seems like this should bode well for the Bucs, especially since they like to pound the rock, but they may be in better shape if they decide to throw the ball.
Tampa Bay’s ground game has improved dramatically since 2018, but it still struggles at times. They’ve performed exceptionally well when running inside duo and some outside zone, but the consistency still lacks.
Regardless of how Bucs decide to attack first down, they should be able to find success, no matter what they do. This should lead to a solid, complete offensive performance for the day.