Bucs brace to take on a superb Packers team

by Gary Shelton on October 16, 2020

in general

Bowles' unit has to stop a hot Packers' team/TIM WIRT

Friday, 3 a.m.

They don't turn the ball over. They don't give up sacks. They don't commit penalties. Their passing game is tremendous, their running game is good and their extra-point team, frankly, is. a little bit tired.

So, the Bucs should have no trouble with the Green Bay Packers, huh?

The Bucs, trying to maintain a winning record, must slow down the Packers, one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Packers are 4-0, and lead the league in scoring, and have scored at least 30 points in every game. It presents the biggest challenge the Bucs have faced since they played New Orleans in the opener.

“It’s tough," said defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. "They’re playing great as an offense, he (QB Aaron Rodgers) is doing a great job steering

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

the ship (and) they’ve got some great players over there. When you don’t get sacked and you don’t turn the ball over, that’s why they’re undefeated. It’s going to be a big challenge for us – everybody’s got to do their job.”

The Bucs are 3-2, coming off a disappointing 20-19 loss to the Chicago Bears. Quarterback Tom Brady missed on all six of his deep passes in the game.

“I can’t recall the six that you’re talking about – I just think we didn’t execute," said offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. "I don’t think we executed well enough to win that game. That’s just the only way I really see it. I can kind of think [about] the six plays, but right now I can’t really think of it off hand. We’ve just got to do a better job of playing situational football. That game really came down to situational football and I don’t think we did a good enough job there.”

The Buc go into the game without defensive tackle Vita Vea and tight end O.J. Howard. Receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both been hampered.

“I think we’re working hard [and] we’re trying to make improvements," Brady said. "Like I said a few weeks ago – even when you win, you’re trying to learn, trying to get better and trying to improve. Understanding that we’re going to be working that way through the whole season. The reality is we just haven’t had a lot of time together, so we’re trying to make up for it. Every game is going to be valuable for us, every practice is valuable and every walkthrough. I think everyone is getting more comfortable and confident as the weeks go, but at the same time, we’ve got to win these games.

"These all count the same as the ones later in the year. We obviously lost the first game of the year, we won three straight, we were in a close game [in Chicago] and we’ve got to make the plays to win the close games. This game here is hugely important because it’s against a very good football team [and] we’re playing them at home. We’re going to have to play a great game. In order to do that, every guy has to know what they’re doing, they have to do it decisively and we’ve got to play great team football.”

Of course, the game will be billed as a match-up between Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Brady. In a quarterback's league, what else would you expect?

“When you play against another great quarterback, you know those are the tough teams to beat because they’re prepared, they’re going to play well on offense and they’ve got a very talented defense," Brady said. "It just means you can’t make a lot of mistakes. Again, I’m not defending Aaron. We’ve got a whole defense that is doing that. From my standpoint, what does that mean? I can play a role in that by doing our job on offense so that a guy like that doesn’t have his offense on the field trying to score points.

"You just can’t give guys like that extra opportunity because they make you pay. They’ve had some games that weren’t even close this year because there were turnovers in the game, they (the Packers) possessed the ball, they’ve got a great running game [and] he’s completing 70 percent of his passes. All of those things play into team football. We know what we’re up against. We’re up against one of the best teams in the league and we’ve got to go out there and play a great game if we’re going to beat them.”

So far this season, Rodgers has 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

“Our attitude’s the same every week," Bowles said. "We have to play our game (and) we’re more worried about what we do and think we can do to win, as opposed to worrying about the opposition. [If] you have to worry about the opposition and then yourself, that’s two birds with one stone. We try to concentrate on us. We know every week we’re going to face a good opponent – in this case a great opponent – so it’s a big challenge for us. We’ve just got to tighten down our screws and we’ve got to play our game.”

Even Leftwich admires Rodgers.

“He’s Aaron Rodgers, right?" Leftwich said. "He’s been at the top of the list with a couple of guys for a long time. That’s who he is. I was actually in the Super Bowl against this guy – that goes to show you how long he’s really been doing this at such a high level. It’s two great quarterbacks going into this game. I guess, as a fan, it’ll be talked about all week. Fans want to see two guys like this that play the way that they play [and have] the résumés that they’ve got. To be honest with you, between the two guys – I already know – they already know they’re not playing against each other. Both teams [have] really good defenses and they’re trying to get ready for that opponent.”

One of the disappointments for the Bucs last week was their failure late when they had a chance to pull out a win.

“We feel as though any time we get the ball in that situation, we have to be really good in four or five-minute offense," Leftwich said. "We feel as though we’re trying to convert as many first downs as possible and win the football game right there. That’s our mindset [and] that’s our philosophy when we get in those moments, (but) we failed to do that. It put our team in a difficult situation (and) that’s why our mindset is our mindset. We failed on it [and] all we can do is wait for the next opportunity [and] hope we do a better job converting in those situations. As far as the running back situation – we were down running backs. We barely had one at the time. We were down to our last one and he did a great job of just fighting for us. Injuries have been tough this year for everyone, but we have to find ways to work through whatever we’ve got out there on the field and make sure we make enough plays to win football games. That’s really our mindset. We don’t really see anything as a deficiency – we see it as putting guys in a position to do what they do well.”

Brady said that he's a big fan of Rodgers.

“I think there’s a lot to like about his play and his ability to pass the football," Brady said. "I think everybody is always pretty much in awe of how he makes it look so easy – just the throwing motion, the velocity on the ball, the placement of the ball [and] how quickly the ball gets from his hand to the receiver’s hands. It’s been unbelievable to watch over the years and he’s really kept it going. He’s a great passer. He’s very efficient. His touchdown-to-interception ratio – he basically doesn’t throw interceptions and throws a lot of touchdowns. His decision making is just phenomenal, and when you do that at quarterback, it always puts your team in a position to win. You’ve got to keep from making mistakes and then obviously to throw as many touchdowns as he has, scramble for touchdowns and his ability as a mobile quarterback to buy more time for his receivers is pretty unbelievable too. There’s a lot of great things to say about his game. He’s one of the great quarterbacks to ever play the game.” 

Brady said that winning the game would boost the Bucs' confidence.

“Every time you win, you develop confidence. Every time you lose, you’ve got to really look in the mirror and say, ‘Is this good enough? Is what we’re doing good enough?’ Even when you win, you do that. When you come back like we did against the Chargers, you have belief that if we’re behind, we can do that. When you win close games, you have a belief that we can win close games. We actually have to do that together. This is not, ‘Hey I’ve done this in the past or you’ve done it in the past or you did it at a different time.’ This is, ‘We’ve done this together and now we have confidence that we can go into these situations and win.’ Any time that you play good teams, you know you’re faced with that type of challenge. This isn’t a team that’s 4-12 – this is a team that’s one of the best teams in the league. They were one of the best teams in the league last year [and] they’re proving to be one of the best teams in the league this year. If we’re going to beat those teams, we’ve got to raise our game to the level of consistency, dependability [and] execution at the highest level for 60 minutes. That’s what happens when you play great teams. If you don’t, you’re never going to win. If you do, then you’ve got a great opportunity. You get to see where you’re at.”

The Bucs play against the Packers at Raymond James Stadium at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday.

Previous post:

Next post: