The Buccaneers vs. Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes is next to impossible to plan around. Regardless of what the defense chooses to take away, Mahomes and the Chiefs have a way of hitting where it hurts.
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Man coverage, the bread and butter for the Buccaneer defense this season, is absolutely not the right direction to go with an arm like Mahomes’ and with a speedy receiver like Tyreek Hill. All the Chiefs have to do against man is run Tyreek Hill to any open space, and eventually, he will be open. The Bucs don’t have the speed on that side of the ball to make man work; they’ve already proven that once this season.
While man coverage is a dangerous decision, so is zone. Mahomes is still extremely accurate, completing 66% of his passes this season, and his ability to extend plays also comes in handy here. The Bucs can sit and wait in their zones all they want; it may mitigate Hill’s role, but Mahomes can extend plays like no one else in the league, and this is where Travis Kelce dominates with improvisation.
Regardless of the coverage, the Buccaneers will have their hands full this weekend, and the rest of the defense will have to carry more than their usual weight.
While Mahomes may look unbeatable, pressure is a great equalizer amongst quarterbacks. If the Buccaneer edge rushers can take advantage of the beaten up Kansas City offensive line, Mahomes could be forced into sub-optimal situations that will mitigate his presence.
Five sacks against Mahomes may be too much to expect, but bringing the same level of pressure against Mahomes that we saw against Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship game is the best hope the Buccaneers have of coming out on top.
Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul have already solidified themselves as Buccaneer greats, but putting the team on their shoulders against one of the most talented players ever in the Super Bowl could solidify them amongst their forebears at the position in the Buccaneer Pantheon.
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