The Importance of Week 7 for the Buccaneers
By Zach Sauers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are heading out west for this Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately for the 49ers, their team is in disarray. Can the Bucs take advantage of this opportunity in a game that could possibility make or break their season?
After a bounce back win against the Carolina Panthers, the Buccaneers headed into a bye week in hopes of getting some key players healthy once again. Well… unfortunately some of the biggest names were held out of practice Monday. Robert Ayers, Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy, Vincent Jackson and Clinton McDonald to be exact. Could this spell another game without our stars?
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Next man up. We saw that even on the nation’s biggest stage that we can beat a team without them. Both drafted and undrafted rookies have stepped up in big ways, and not to mention the coaches have all the confidence in the world behind them. Enough about these injuries though.
Could it really be a make or break game for the Bucs? Yes, the Bucs believe in themselves right now. Entering a game where the other team is just flat out not as good, they look to begin a streak. If perhaps the 49ers can pull off an upset, it could leave the Bucs in a state of decay. We have heard often this season that Coach Dirk Koetter has wanted to change the culture of the Bucs. A win this Sunday could solidify the beginning of that change, but a loss could also bring them back to their typical ways.
So how can they stop the 49ers? This game will all come down to a matter of which Jameis Winston is showing up that day. Statistically, according to ESPN, the Bucs have the NFL’s 10th ranked defense and the 29th ranked offense. We all know that the Bucs are great against the run, so stopping Colin Kaepernick from scrambling and through the air is the only issue. My good friend and editor James Yarcho takes a more in depth look on him in his recent article.
As for the offense, you can blame it on a multitude of things. The main issue is how atrocious the run game has been since the absence of Doug Martin. Before Jacquizz Rodgers made his heroic efforts in Carolina, the Bucs’ offense has been one dimensional. Opposing teams have known that Jameis is looking to force feed Mike Evans, and that needs to end. If Martin is once again out this week with a hamstring injury, look for a similar game plan to what you saw on Monday Night Football.
The 49ers are the worst ranked team against the run in the NFL, and the Bucs need to exploit that. In return, do not be surprised to see the 49ers put an emphasis on stopping the run no matter who is in the backfield for the Bucs. This is where Jameis Winston needs to shine. If the Bucs are able to suck in the defense of the 49ers, some good play action passes could help Jameis shine.
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We know it, they know it, the NFL knows it. The Bucs are finally not considered the underdogs in this game out west. Let us hope that this Sunday, Jameis Winston is the one kneeling… at the end of the game. God Bless America. God Bless the Bucs