Looking at the Cardinals offense, it’s clear the Buccaneers will need to play disciplined football with solid tackling across the formation.
Of course, this is the goal every week, isn’t it?
Several people have called for the Bucs defense to get a bit more aggressive. Specifically, they want to see second-year cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III take strides towards shutting down opposing receivers.
While Arizona’s Carson Palmer certainly looked like the lesser quarterback against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5, his stat line still neared 300-yards on the day. He also added his team’s lone score of the game.
None of this matters in the end as his team lost, but it shows Tampa can allow Palmer to get his yards, and still walk away with a strong performance.
For one, the passing attack used by the Cardinals is predicated on executing the short game, and luring in defenders for a deep strike.
In 2016, this team ran seven short passing plays or runs before trying to push the ball downfield with a pass. Against Philly, they ran 12 before finally taking a shot downfield.
There’s two reasons for this from what I’ve seen. The first, is Palmer himself.
Perhaps because Palmer is known to throw his passes on pretty flat trajectories early in routes, Douglas freezes, allowing the pass to sail over his head – almost.
However, as you can see here:
The ball is coming in short, as Brown has to completely stop his forward momentum in an attempt to catch the pass.
This allows the burned rookie to recover, and get a hand on the ball to break up the pass. Had Douglas not jumped forward on what he perceived to be a straight-line pass, he’d have been in perfect position to gather in an early interception.
Compare this to last year’s version of Carson Palmer.
Now, the image above still turns out to be an incompletion for the Cardinals, but for very different reasons.
This pass is from the 2016 contest between the Buccaneers and Arizona, and the pass is intended for Michael Floyd, now of the Minnesota Vikings.
Defending is Brent Grimes. Look at his positioning on the throw. He’s tailing the receiver in coverage and is in a good position if the ball is underthrown like the previous one was.
However, in this case, Palmer get enough under it that the pass is in front of the receiver, like the ball in Philadelphia should’ve been. Considering Grimes’ veteran status and football acumen, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see him bite on a throw as hard as Douglas did last week.
If Palmer can’t get his passes over the top of defenders this week, this picture could turn into an interception for one of the Buccaneers defenders.
Had he put this kind of trajectory on his pass attempt to Brown, it’d have gone for an early score for Arizona in Week 5. Whether it was the road environment, a less effective offensive line, or maybe his age showing, the Bucs need to look out early to see if this is the same Palmer who completed multiple passes of 50+ yards against this defense just over a year ago.