We continue our series previewing the 2016 season for the Buccaneers. Time to move ahead to week two when they take on the powerhouse Arizona Cardinals.
The Buccaneers enter the new year with a lot of hope. A great deal of it stems from the fact that they have found a franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston, but there are other reasons to be excited. We know what Doug Martin can do when he is healthy, and having Vincent Jackson back will help the offense take the next step. Don’t forget about the revamping of the defense as well.
Is this the year the Bucs make a return to January football?
We have begun a series that will amount to an early season, game by game preview of what is to come for the Bucs. We started with the season opener in Atlanta. Today, we continue with the second part of our series, week two.
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These teams have been as even as they can be through their respective histories. The all-time record is 9-9, and the Bucs have outscored the Cardinals by eight points. It’s hard to get much more even than that.
The last time these two teams met was in 2013 at Raymond James, but the road team squeaked out a win, 13-10.
This one is going to be tough, but it would be one heck of a statement if the Bucs find a way to win. Throwing against Patrick Peterson will certainly make Winston’s life a bit difficult. Peterson picked off eight passes last year, and he will likely be charged with taking Mike Evans away.
Overall, the Cardinals’ defense was ranked fifth overall in 2015. They gave up 91 yards per game on the ground and 230 through the air. The offense will be under fire from all sides.
Just like it will be in week one, the Bucs’ new secondary will be put to the test this week. Carson Palmer is playing some of the best football of his career, and with Larry Fitzgerald on the outside, it almost doesn’t matter who the passer is. If Fitzgerald is covered, they have Michael Floyd and John Brown to deal with. On the ground, there is David Johnson and Chris Johnson.
The Bucs have their work cut out for them.
If I were Koetter, I would start out with a short passing attack. The idea will be to give Martin some running room to keep the Cardinals’ offense on the sidelines. But, the Cardinals’ defense is better against the run than the pass. If they can slow the run defense down, Martin will be afforded opportunities to grind out the yards on the ground, effectively slowing Palmer and company down.
If the Bucs can pull it off, it will be Dirk and company telling the world that the Bucs are back and here to stay.