Nov 18, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Patriots 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take to the field against the Carolina Panthers once again on Sunday, and for the second time this season they’ll be an underdog against their division rivals. The Panthers have been a surprise team this season behind the play of their emerging defense and dual-threat quarterback, Cam Newton.
The Panthers have a few winning streaks over the Buccaneers in team history, and they’ll look to start another one at Bank of America Stadium this weekend. How do the Buccaneers get revenge for a home defeat at the hands of Carolina and prevent a losing streak from even getting started?
Here are the keys to victory for the Buccaneers against their rivals from Charlotte.
1. Pressure Cam Newton, but don’t lose contain.
In their first matchup this season, the Panthers and Cam Newton faced a good amount of pressure from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the contain wasn’t there often enough, and Newton was able to break free for fifty rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
This week, it will be important for the Buccaneers to continue to apply pressure to Newton, but keeping him from breaking off a big run is equally as important. Gerald McCoy has been the best inside pass rusher in the NFL this season, and he’ll be able to get in the face of the Carolina quarterback. Can Adrian Clayborn, Da’Quan Bowers, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and company remained disciplined on the outside to catch Newton if he tries to get outside of the tackle box?
That’s the question the Buccaneers must answer if they hope to contain the Auburn product under center for the Panthers.
2. Don’t overuse stunts and exotic blitzes which create lanes for Cam Newton, or allow him too much time to pass.
From a coaching standpoint, the Buccaneers cannot run the same stunts and blitzes used previously against Cam Newton, as they will often leave openings for him to escape through, or provide him with too much time to throw, in the case of the overused Quick Tex stunt which is the bane of former Buc Stephen White’s existence.
The Buccaneers have talented players in the front seven who can help keep Newton under wraps. Silly stunts which take Gerald McCoy out of the play and which bring Adrian Clayborn across the formation in an attempt to rush the passer aren’t needed in this game.
3. Get the ball out of Mike Glennon’s hands quickly, and take advantage of matchups in the passing game.
There are no defensive players on the Carolina roster who can handle Vincent Jackson on the outside. There are no linebackers, not even the great Luke Kuechly, who can keep up with Tim Wright in a one-on-one matchup. The Buccaneers have to exploit these matchups, and do so quickly after Mike Glennon gets the football.
Waiting for plays to develop is usually a recipe for Glennon to get spooked by the pass rush, and unless he’s able to roll out and reset himself, it often results in a throwaway or sack. Against Carolina, who have a ferocious pass rush, the Buccaneers must design plays to get Glennon throwing quickly, and in the direction of his two talented receivers who pose matchup problems.
4. Find a way to run the football.
If Mike Glennon throws the ball 50 times against Carolina, as he did in the last matchup, the Buccaneers simply cannot win.
Glennon has been at his best in recent weeks when the team has committed to the running game, and allowed him to make fewer throws over the course of the game. Even if running the football isn’t gaining considerable yardage, there has to be an effort to pound the football on the ground.
The Tampa Bay offensive line is too talented and too expensive to not pave the way in a matchup like this.