Donovan Smith vs. Myles Garrett
This one is going to be…tough.
The Buccaneers will not get many one on one match-ups more lopsided than left tackle Donovan Smith against defensive end Myles Garrett. This is not meant as a knock on Donovan Smith, who is far better than he gets credit for and will soon be getting a nice new contract for those efforts.
In just his second season as a pro, Garrett is arguably the single most talented defensive end in the entire league with a ceiling as high as Chicago Bears star Khalil Mack. Garrett is that good.
Smith has faced a murderers’ row of pass rushers thus far this season, including Brandon Graham, Cameron Jordan, Khalil Mack and Vic Beasley, and has fared decently throughout the 2018 campaign. If he’s able to maintain that level of play, perhaps the Buccaneers can keep Garrett from breaking the game to his will, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Expect to see plenty of chipping from Buccaneer tight ends and running backs to help Smith against the Garrett onslaught. An added element to consider is the Browns propensity for blitzing (third highest rate in the league). Smith will be tasked with blocking the right player in the midst of a lot of rushing defenders, which could be extra problematic.
Those are my critical matchups for this game, but what are yours’ Buccaneer fans? Does the matchup between Denzel Ward and Mike Evans draw your fancy? Sound off in the comments and be sure to check back for more Pewter Plank content leading up to the game!