Buccaneers vs Bears: Five game-changing players
By Bailey Adams
Sunday is bound to be a big day for Jameis Winston and his talented group of receivers. But the Bucs need to find a good balance between run and pass, which means how Jacquizz Rodgers performs is crucial. The 27-year-old will be the featured running back while Doug Martin is absent due to his suspension. Charles Sims and Peyton Barber may get some looks at well, but Rodgers is the go-to guy, just like he was for a lot of last year. If Tampa Bay wants to put on a big offensive performance in its season debut, getting Rodgers going on the ground will be key.
For someone who wasn’t even on the opening day roster last year, the former Bear had a pretty big impact on the Bucs’ 9-7 season. He rushed for 560 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. With injuries to Martin and Sims, the outlook was bleak for the backfield. Despite that, “Quizz” did his part to make things a little brighter. In six of his 10 games, he averaged four or more yards per carry. If he can manage to do that this Sunday, the Bucs will have to like their chances.
Tampa Bay’s passing game might be able to do enough to get the team past Chicago. Still, finding a balance with Rodgers and the arm of Winston would be ideal. Keeping the pressure off the quarterback should be the Bucs’ focus, as a formidable run game would open things up far more for the pass. Dirk Koetter has talked in the past about the importance of Tampa Bay establishing the run. If the team can do that on the legs of Rodgers against the Bears, the home crowd will be rocking for a Bucs victory.