Can Bucs withstand Atlanta’s passing attack?

by Gary Shelton on October 12, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Ryan hopes to have a big day for Atlanta/TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Friday, 1 a.m.

I know. Let's do something for the quarterbacks!

Why, just last month, someone made a tackle. Someone else forced a fumble.

I know. Let's pass a few more rules. We'll legalize holding, and we won't allow defensive backs to beat up receivers, and we'll throw a flag if anyone gets within five yards of a quarterback. Before we're done, every quarterback will look like Matt Ryan and every receiver will look like Julio Jones.

And if they don't, heck, we'll pass some more rules.

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Look, Ryan is the bomb and Jones is better than he is. Against the outmanned Bucs' secondary, both figure to have their moments.

Conversely, the Bucs will give quarterback Jameis Winston his first start of the season.

"I just think my mentality is just to go out there and win for this team," Winston said. "If that’s taking 3-yard completions for the remainder of the game, if that’s having to hit a deep shot down the field, my main focus is just winning, not really stressing about anything. I just want to put my team in a good position to win.”

But the Bucs' run defense matters, too.

“I can tell you there’s no worse feeling in the world as a football team than a team that can’t stop the run," Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said. "Once a team can run it on you and they know they can run it on you, it’s a long day. That doesn’t mean you can’t have long days the other way too. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. I haven’t run into that D-coordinator yet that’s going to say don’t stop the run first. I could see how you can make that case about the other way, but that’s hard to judge.”

It would help, too, if the Bucs' own anemic rushing offense could have an impact in the game. Rookie Ronald Jones is expected to be active for the second straight game.

“He’s fine," said offensive coordinator Todd Monken. "He’s only going to continue to get better and he has shown that. He’s continued to work awfully hard at it, so it’s week-to-week for everybody that we have — we said that a few weeks ago. All of our players in terms of who gives us the best chance to win.

"I think he continues to improve and will continue because he’s got talent. He’s got a chance to be a really good player. Now, it’s just putting it all together.”

Overall, however, Monken said the running game has to be better.

“Got to run the ball more and be better at it," Monken said. "That’s probably as much as anything (a needed improvement). We’re capable of being explosive, but obviously we can’t turn the ball over. You’re going to have to have so many more explosives to make up for those turnovers. Those are probably the two biggest things and then once we got in the red zone — how do we do it better? Some of it is scheme and some of it is, when we get those opportunities, we’ve got to take advantage of it and not turn it over.”

Monken said there were other factors besides the rules that have led to the passing craze.

“I think we talked about it a couple weeks ago, that you’re talking about spacing the field," Monken said. "You’re talking about more and more teams have matchup running backs that are coming out of college. More and more teams have matchup tight ends that are coming from four-wide offenses or five-wide offenses.  I do think that in terms of the way that they are protecting the quarterback and the receivers, I think adds to that. I think you’re seeing quarterbacks come out of college that are used to that system — allows them to have success.

"I do think that you’re talking about when you add in those athletic players, you’re seeing more zone reads, you’re seeing more of the touch passes that — because that’s a completion that goes as a touchdown pass when they throw that. When (Mitch) Trubisky threw that in the red zone, that’s basically a hand off and that’s a touchdown pass, so that’s going to lead to QB ratings, going to lead to passing yards. It’s all of that. It’s all the same things you see. What I saw in the Big 12, that’s really what that league is all about — going fast, spreading the field, utilizing space. That’s really what you’re starting to see more of. With that being said, you’ve got to be careful in terms of how much you put on your defense and turning the ball over.”

The Bucs play the Falcons at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.





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