Bucs to face sturdier Rams’ defense

by Gary Shelton on November 21, 2020

in general

Leftwich has to figure out Rams' stars./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

When last they met, the Los Angeles Ram scored 40 on the Tampa Bay Bucs. They were fast, they were quick, and they were explosive.

The Bucs, however, got 55. They had 385 yards and four touchdowns from then-quarterback Jameis Winston.

Pretty much, that tells you all you need to know about the old Rams. They could score, not not quite as fast as their opposition. The team of Deacon Jones and Jack Youngblood had given way to quarterbacks and wide receivers.

Maybe that isn't true anymore.

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These new Rams, who have added Jalen Ramsey to Aaron Donald's huddle, have a bit of spine to them. They aren't the old hang-on Rams anymore. Defensively, the Rams can be a day's work.

That starts with Donald.

“It’s a top-10 defense in every category," said Bucs' quarterback Tom Brady. "Aaron Donald is as good as there is to probably have ever played in the National Football League at D-line. He’s an incredible player – explosive, quick and powerful. It’s amazing the production he has even when people are double-teaming him and triple-teaming him. He just never lets down. He’s a hard-working guy. You can tell football means a lot to him. He really sparks that whole defense.

" [Michael] Brockers is a great player, [Samson] Ebukam is a great player [and] they’ve got some really athletic linebackers. Jalen [Ramsey] and the secondary – they’ve got some really good players that maybe some people haven’t heard of that are playing really well. [Darious] Williams had two picks last week, [John] Johnson is a really good safety. [Jordan] Fuller is a really good player. Troy Hill is a player I’ve played against quite a bit. They’re really good – they’re fast, they attack, they’re aggressive, they’re in a good scheme and you don’t have a lot of time as a quarterback to sort things out because this D-line is on you so quick. I’m just going to have to make good reads and make good, accurate throws and be on the same page with the receivers. It’s going to be a great football game.”

The Bucs are coming off a 46-point afternoon against Carolina. But for once it isn't Jared Goff and his receivers who cause all the concern for Monday night's game.

“They’ve got really good football players," said offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. "Man, they do. They have a lot of really good football players [and] a lot of guys playing fast [and] moving around. Just the scheme is different. The scheme is really, completely different from what they’ve done in the last year.

"Obviously, we can take some things from that [game last year] from a personnel standpoint, but these guys are playing well. They’re playing really good football right now, they’re flying around, they’re hitting people, they’re attacking guys, they’re getting to the quarterback [and] they’re doing all the things that good defenses do. It’s all over the tape, so we know what type of challenge we have coming in here Monday night. It’s going to be a really good football team that’s going to be ready to play, so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to do the same.”

Leftwich said the Rams could be the best defense on the Bucs' schedule.

“Yes, probably," Leftwich said. "I believe so. Just the way they attack [and] the way they get to the quarterback. Obviously, the guy that has his hand in the ground (Aaron Donald) – it’s not just him. It’s a bunch of those guys that really do a good job of getting to the quarterback. They have some special guys on the defensive side of the football [and] some guys that – when it’s all said and done – these guys are going to be wearing gold jackets. We understand that [and] we understand what we’re up against. We’re just going to try to make sure we prepare as much as we can [and] make sure we’re doing the things that we need to do to give ourselves an opportunity to win the football game.”

Leftwich said it starts with the new scheme.

“It’s different than what they did last year," Leftwich said. "Just having the opportunity to play against these guys last year, it’s entirely different. Some of the personnel is the same and the personnel has always been good. Obviously, they’re doing a lot of really good things on defense. They’re playing well up front, they’re playing well in the secondary [and] they’re really playing well as a whole. Once you watch the guys play you can see they enjoy playing with each other, they play the game with a certain type of energy [and] they’re running around.

"Everything that a good defense is supposed to have, they have it. They have all the things that come with having a really good defense. We understand that, so we just have to make sure we’re ready to roll, we’re prepared [and] doing the things we need to do to give ourselves an opportunity Monday night to win the football game.”

Brady is aware he hasn't been accurate on deep throws in recent games.

“It’s definitely something we’ve got to hit," Brady said. "Our guys are doing a great job of getting open down the field and it’s my job to find him and hit him. If you don’t hit them, they’re just long foul balls. We had a few of those last game. [If] we take those shots, we’re going to have to be accurate with them and I know our guys are going to come up with them when I give them a good chance to catch the ball.”

The Bucs play the Rams at 820 p.m. on Monday night.

Prediction: Rams 24, Bucs 23.

Other NFL games:

Baltimore 30, Tennessee 21.

New Orleans 28, Atlanta 26.

Minnesota 21, Dallas 17.


Clemson 38, FSU 7.

Florida 29, Vanderbilt 17.

Oklahoma 35, Okahoma State 21.

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