by Douglas O’Connor
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Chances are that writing about Mike Evans, Jameis Winston and the turnover battle will just be a regurgitation of obvious keys to victory that you have read this week and all season long. Here are some lesser known things to watch versus the Chargers that can deliver a Buccaneers victory.
Open Field Tackling: San Diego Head Coach Mike McCoy’s offense relies heavily on draws, screens, and rubs (legal picks). Getting his athletes the ball in space and letting them make a play. Outside corner backs Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves are going to have to get off blocks and make solo tackles against bigger Charger receivers. When you hear “another great open field tackle by a Buccaneer”, coming from announcer Sam Rosen, you know they’ve been doing their job.
Rush Lanes: I spotlighted this one last week as well but for a totally different reason. Rush lanes were important against the Seahawks for keeping Russell Wilson in the pocket. This weeks importance has to do with stopping the draw. Buccaneers DT need to stay in their lanes, pushing the pocket back and clogging the middle giving Gordon nowhere to go. MIL LB Kwon Alexander will also have to challenge the releasing center instead of using his speed to slip the block awarding Gordon an easy cut to get into the secondary. Here against the Rams is a 3rd and 19 that went for a 1st down. Bad lanes and slippage from Kwon left the runner uncontested until he reached the 3rd level.
Disciplined rush lanes will be a factor in keeping Gordon from doing this against the Bucs on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/1akfZvOANx
— Douglas Sean OConnor (@Ren_Daxt) December 3, 2016
Max Protection: Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter believes in protecting the passer more than spreading out the defense. Last week the Bucs threw the ball out of a 6 OL set and have used backs and receivers to chip opposing DE to ensure his quarterback remains upright. The Chargers have 20 sacks on the year with half coming from two players, Melvin Ingram and rookie Joey Bosa. Look for the Bucs to continue this trend and allow Jameis Winston to progress through his reads and pick apart a poor and beat up San Diego secondary.
Seven out of eight experts have picked the Chargers in this game, for the record these same experts all picked the Chiefs and the Seahawks too. The more I look at this game I see a double digit win for the Bucs. San Diego is 6th against the run but their leading tackler is out this week leaving 3rd stringer Korey Toomer at ILB. I think the soaring confidence and new found nastiness of the Bucs OL puts up a nice performance in the run game. The ability to run the ball and the extra protection for Winston equates to the Bucs easily moving the ball up and down the field. The Chargers offensive scoring numbers are inflated by all the short fields their defense have been giving them. Couple this with San Diego’s leading receiver will be wearing a brace on his shoulder for a torn labrum and the new look Buccaneers defense stinginess. I envision lots of smiles on the team flight back to Tampa.
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