Buccaneers vs. Bills: 5 Things to Look For
5 Things to Look for in Bills vs. Buccaneers Matchup
On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills travel to Tampa to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams have no playoff hopes, and will look to at least get something positive going before the season ends. The Bills' offense, led by E.J. Manual, has been inconsistent. Only time will tell whether Manual is the answer in Buffalo. He has shown flashes of being a franchise quarterback, but must stay healthy in order to prove himself worthy of that designation. Their defense has played very well, and could eventually be the driving force that puts Buffalo back to relevancy. In addition, it could allow them to focus on drafting mainly offensive players in April. Their objective now, however, is to stop a Tampa team that has talent, but a propensity to fade out of games.
The Buccaneers also have a talented defense, although they lack a constant ability to rush the passer. Their coverage abilities can be suspect at times, mainly because they have a rookie in Jonathan Banks and second-year player in Leonard Johnson. Their development is critical to the growth of the Buc defense. The offense, also led by a rookie in Mike Glennon, needs to prove that they can sustain leads and play well in the fourth quarter. Much of that depends on their offensive line, and whether they can keep Glennon upright and create holes for the running game, which has shown some success despite losing star running back Doug Martin early in the season. With that in mind, here are five things to look for in this Bills vs. Buccaneers match.
5. C.J. Spiller vs. Gerald McCoy
When healthy, Spiller is one of the most electrifying players in the NFL. He is a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball. The former Clemson star averages nearly five yards per carry, and teams up with Fred Jackson to form one of the best duos in the league.
Tampa Bay has been solid against the run this season, ranking 12th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. The biggest reason for this has been Gerald McCoy. He is considered by many to be the best defensive tackle in the league, and he commands double teams on almost every play. However, he was held in check against Carolina last week, and needs to be the disruptive force we're used to seeing in order for Tampa to contain Spiller. If he is, than it creates opportunities for other Buc defenders to make plays and ultimately force the Bills to pass with a rookie quarterback.
4. The Second Half Offense of the Bucs
The Bucs have struggled mightily in the second half of games this year, and it has played a key part in their 3-9 start. Last week against Carolina, Tampa was held scoreless in the second half. The main reason for this was the offensive line. They failed to create running lanes for Bobby Rainey, and did not do a good job of giving Glennon a key pocket. They need to make sure they are sound in their protection schemes.
Tampa's second-half stalls also are a result of halftime adjustments. Many teams the Bucs have faced this year have gotten torched by Vincent Jackson in the first half. However, they make it a point to double Jackson in the second half. The coaching staff for Tampa needs to do a better job of countering this by taking advantage of the single coverage to other receivers. Also, other Bucs need to step up and help take that pressure of of Jackson. As a result, look for Tiquan Underwood to have a nice game. He have a lot of opportunities to make big plays, and I see Glennon looking his way often on Sunday. He will help the Bills defense to stay honest, which will hopefully open the field up for Mike Glennon and give him better chances to score in the second half.
3. The Usage of Revis
Previously I had written about the health of Revis, and whether his injury issues would affect his future performances. Well, we're about to find out. Look for the way the Bucs utilize Revis. If they play him mostly in man, and he shuts down the Bill's receivers, than it has to be a reassuring sign for Buc fans, even if he doesn't play every down. However, if he is held to a zone scheme, struggles to make plays when the ball is thrown his way and is forced to sit out a large portion of the game than it will raise a lot of concerns for his future. Tampa needs to be careful with him, but they also need to see how he can do, even if it's in limited action. No matter what happens, make it a point to look for No. 24 on Sunday.
2. Tampa Bay's Pass Rushers
As it stands, Gerald McCoy is the Bucs' best pass rusher right now. That speaks volumes about McCoy's talent, but it also means that one of Tampa's defensive ends needs to step it up. I look for Adrian Clayborn to be that guy. He does have four sacks on the season, but has yet to take his game to the next level. He has shown flashes of his immense talent, but needs to start playing more consistently. If he’s able to harass Manual all day, then I see the Bill's offense having a difficult time producing points, as it will be tough to put special attention on both Clayborn and McCoy.
1. Kiko Alonso
Although he is one, Alonso does not play like a rookie. He has 125 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and four interceptions. He is turning into the type of player that you have to adjust for each and every week. He is a lock to get NFL defensive rookie of the year, and has already established himself as one of the league's best defenders. One of the most interesting parts of this game will be whether Tampa Bay is able to keep Alonso in check. If the Bills win, it will likely be because of Alonso’s contributions on defense.