Buccaneers: Sunday game plan attacking and defending the Minnesota Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 15: Danielle Hunter #99 of the Minnesota Vikings puts pressure on quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as Donovan Smith #76 sets a block during the preseason game on August 15, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Buccaneers 26-16. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 15: Danielle Hunter #99 of the Minnesota Vikings puts pressure on quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as Donovan Smith #76 sets a block during the preseason game on August 15, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Buccaneers 26-16. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images /

Dalvin Cook, the Vikings front four and Buccaneers killer QB Case Keenum top the list of obstacles the Bucs need to overcome week 3.

After an easy victory against the Chicago Bears, thanks to four first half turnovers, the Buccaneers turn their attention towards an old NFC North opponent.

Attacking The Vikings

With Pro Bowlers dotting every level of the Minnesota’s Vikings defense, Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense will face a much tougher test week three. Winston must use all of his toys in his chest to keep the Vikings defense on their heels, forcing them into becoming more reactive on Sunday. I will focus on three key offensive positions that need to play well for this game plan to come into fruition.

Key One: Tight End

More specifically O.J. Howard. In the Bucs first game against Chicago the team used Howard more as a 6th offensive lineman rather than a down the field weapon. The Buccaneers need more of the same Sunday for their offense to be effective.

The Vikings boast two Pro Bowlers along their defensive front, defensive end Everson Griffen and nose tackle Linval Joseph. Plus opposite end Danielle Hunter rolled up 12.5 sacks in 2016. Toss in a defensive run stuffing tackle, Tom Johnson, that has get to the quarterback ability and you have one of the most talented groups the Bucs will face all season. Hence the importance of Howard.

Howard’s presence on the offensive line jumps the talent level from average to good and 6 vs 4 are better odds, even if those 4 are very good players. Jameis Winston is going to need all the time he can get throwing against an also very talented Vikings secondary. If Howard preforms well Winston should get all the time he needs.

More from Bucs News

Key Two: Left Tackle

Donovan Smith had an up and down game vs the Bears last week in Tampa. If the Buccaneers hope to run their offense to it’s maximum efficiency Smith will have to pick up his game against 2 time Pro Bowler and 2017 team sack leader Everson Griffen. Griffen’s game is a lot like Bucs own Noah Spence. Fast off the edges with heavy, quick hands that allow him to blow by offensive tackles without slowing down. Unlike Spence, Everson Griffen is 15 lbs heavier and able to stand up against the run.

Donovan Smith tends to struggle against speed and Griffen has it in spades. If Smith can’t handle the rush on a consistent bases the Bucs will have to counter with Howard moving over to help or continually using running backs to chip or bang Griffen. Not ideal, but problem solved. Right? Wrong. Remember the Vikings other defensive end Danielle Hunter posted 12.5 sack last season. Even though he hasn’t collected any thus far in 2017, if you have to allocate so many resources to stop Griffen I like Hunter chances to make an impact Sunday.

If Donovan Smith can raise the level of his game in Minnesota the Buccaneer offense can spread the field and get multiple one on one match ups every time they throw the ball. That equals a win for the offense before it even hikes the ball.

Key Three: WR 4

Chris Godwin didn’t show up on the stat sheet in the Bucs first and only game, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t involved. Other than being on the field when Dirk Koetter was looking for reliable downfield blocking, Godwin only two targets were in the end zone (sort of). Jameis first looked Godwins way with a pass that led him into the end zone. The only problem was that the wide receiver broke his route off to the inside and the pass looked wildly incomplete. Godwins second look came when he was dragging the end line and he didn’t get his head around fast enough. He was just able to get one arm up as it ricocheted out of bounds.

I mentioned earlier that the Vikings have a talented secondary. Xavier Rhodes a big, strong Pro Bowl corner will match up against Mike Evans and speedy former first round draft pick, Trae Waynes will shadow DeSean Jackson. Leaving Godwin against Minnesota’s third best corner back at worst all day long.

Chris Godwin constantly showed during training camp that he could get separation from anyone on the Bucs roster not named Grimes or Hargreaves. And when he was covered he almost always came up with the contested catch. If Winston and Godwin get on the same page this Sunday, Chris Godwin could become a third down chain mover and the days most targeted receiver.

Defending Against The Vikings

Normally when a defense gets to go up against a teams back up quarterback it a good thing for the defense. However Minnesota Vikings backup is Case Keenum. Granted not a name that drips with NFL passing royalty, but Keenum has put two in the win column vs the Buccaneers the past two seasons. Posting a box score of 424 yards and 4 TD’s with no interceptions. The Vikings also have the NFL’s third leading rusher Dalvin Cook to tend with. So will the Curse of Keenum strike for a third year in a row?

Short answer no and I will tell you why.

The Minnesota Vikings newly revamped offensive line was a  cohesive unit week one against the New Orleans Saints, but looked like five strangers trying to protect Keenum in week two vs the Steelers. Trying to replace three lineman will never be a quick fix and I’m expecting more growing pains this Sunday against Gerald McCoy and company.

The Vikings offensive line troubles should directly effect Case Keenum’s performance as well. It’s no secret that getting a quarterback off his spot is the best way to disrupt the opposing passing game. Most QB’s will climb the pocket in an effort to buy more time. Keenum however has a terrible habit of backing away from pressure, trying to out flank the edge rusher and get outside the tackle box to extend plays. This won’t work against the Buccaneers front seven and Keenum will be firing the ball out of bounds just to avoid sacks.

When Minnesota’s QB does get a clean pocket he will be hard pressed to find any big plays down the field as the Bucs focus on taking away Stefon Diggs, their only deep threat. If the Vikings want to move the ball down the field through the air it will have to intermediate passes at best.

Dalvin Cook had a fantastic rookie debut vs a terrible defense. Then in week two he was, for the most part bottled up, while facing a stouter defensive roster. But Dalvin’s big play ability should not be overlooked. With three runs over 20 yards in just two games the Bucs outside defenders will have to stay home, forcing Cook inside where pursuing teammates can make the tackle.

Defensive Keys To Victory

  • Exploit the Vikings offensive lack of familiarity
  • Get Keenum off his spot, Keenum on the run = Victory
  • Force Cook back inside, all his explosives are from when he gets to the edge

Next: DJax Rips Into President On Twitter

Thanks for reading and GO BUCS!!!