The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a short week to prepare for the Carolina Panthers, their final game in their first run through the NFC South. Carolina has been up-and-down this season, but they pose a huge threat on defense and look to be improving on offense.
So how can the Buccaneers grab a win, or at least build some positive momentum heading forward? By answering these questions.
Can Mike Glennon Throw an Accurate Deep Pass?
You may remember Vincent Jackson’s long touchdown and think that Glennon is finally starting to a rhythm going on deep throws. But that’s simply not the case.
It took an incredible, highlight reel catch (that earned the top spot on the NFL’s top-five catches for the week) to make the play happen, because the ball was underthrown and thrown to the wrong side of the defender. Jackson made a spectacular individual effort to make the play happen.
Glennon made the right decision to make the throw, and he should have earned a pass interference penalty for his efforts were the catch not made. But the fact remains that Glennon’s deep throws are not respected by defenses, which means Carolina can stack the box and force Glennon to air it out.
Mike Glennon still has a shot at being a franchise quarterback. But his deep throws and ball placement must improve to build trust and display “good tape” for whoever the coaching staff may be next season.
Can the Offensive Line Handle Carolina’s Beastly Front Four?
The Carolina Panthers have an incredibly talented front four, led by Star Lotulelei and Greg Hardy. The Tampa Bay offensive line is full of talent as well, but they’ve been struggling this year with injury and with disappointing performances.
Can they rebound and give Mike James and Mike Glennon time and space to do their jobs against Carolina?
It will be a very tough task, and I’m not sure they can do it. But if they do, it will go a very, very long way towards getting a first victory. The defensive line for Carolina may be their greatest asset, so finding a way to neutralize them would be a sign that the Bucs are turning things around, and giving great effort despite a poor start to the season.
I’m not sure the offensive line stands a chance against this defensive front, but if they can prove me wrong, the Bucs may snatch a victory on Thursday night.
Who Will Be Responsible for Cam Newton?
Cam Newton has been efficient and productive in recent weeks, including a very impressive 136.3 QB Rating in a easy win over St. Louis. He’s managing the game better, which should be worrisome for the Buccaneers.
Cam has always done fairly well against the Bucs, and this week could be more of the same. If the defense is unable to cover all of his weapons and contain his running from the pocket, it could be a very long day. That’s why players like Lavonte David and Mark Barron should have a tough task ahead of them.
Barron should be asked to cover Greg Olsen exclusively, allowing the corners to worry about the receivers with Dashon Goldson helping on Steve Smith (because we know Darrelle Revis isn’t going to line up against Smith all day, even though that’s the obvious choice). That frees up Lavonte David to keep an eye on running backs and on Cam Newton, and David has the awareness and speed to track down Newton should he try to escape the pocket.
Newton is the single most important player for Carolina, and he must be contained for the Buccaneers to win this football game. He’s always posted decent numbers against Tampa Bay, and he is on a roll over his recent few games. His performance, and the Bucs’ ability to contain him, will make or break the Panthers’ chances at a victory.