Tom Brady will likely have another tough time moving the New England Patriots‘ offense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have played great defense in the first two weeks of the season, particularly against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. There aren’t many weaknesses for Brady to expose; his best chance might be throwing the football to Julian Edelman at least another 15 times.
That’s because the Bucs lack a nickel cornerback capable of covering Edelman in the slot. Leonard Johnson is currently slated to play that role when defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan moves to nickel formations. Johnson hasn’t shown much in coverage. In fact, he was the one that gave up the big catch to Marques Colston in the Bucs’ loss to the Saints on Sunday, which was against a 6-foot-4, 230 pound wide receiver playing in the slot. Now, let’s imagine Johnson trying to cover a more natural slot receiver like Edelman. The edge has to go to Edelman there.
Not to mention that most defenses match up linebackers with slot receivers at times. The Buccaneers’ linebackers are solid, but most of them cannot hang with Edelman in coverage. Middle linebacker Mason Foster is a run-stuffer, so he would struggle in coverage. Outside linebacker Dekoda Watson has barely played up until this season, so he also might struggle to disrupt the chemistry between Brady and Edelman. Lavonte David, who is the other outside linebacker for the Buccaneers, might be the best-suited linebacker to cover Edelman, but he only plays on the weak side; Edelman typically lines up on the strong side of the formation. The other option for covering Edelman is strong safety Mark Barron. Though Barron is a good young player, he is more known as in-the-box safety than a coverage safety.
Edelman has a favorable matchup against most of the players that could cover him, making him in line for a big game in Week 3.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.