From one linebacker to another, who will be on the other side of the field. Luke Kuechly has been one of the top defenders in the league for years. Through all of the concussions and other injuries, the sixth-year star is still rolling. He leads the Panthers in tackles with 107 and interceptions with three. In addition to that, he has a sack, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Kuechly has the tendency to create turnovers, which is a problem for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay’s offense can only roll if it plays clean football. On Monday against the Falcons, the Bucs looked like they were in sync and flowing. The lone fumble stopped momentum, but otherwise, the Bucs got rolling. The offense looked clean and crisp, leading to one of its best games of the year. However, the Panthers are a different kind of test. Carolina is fifth in total defense, largely due to the play of Kuechly.
As mentioned in a previous slide, the Tampa Bay offense needs to be able to run if it’s going to have success. The threat of the run opens up the play-action options for the Bucs, which is something that Jameis Winston thrives on. If Kuechly is able to help stop the run, it could shut the Bucs down altogether.