The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter a week two battle against the division rival Atlanta Falcons with a battered secondary. However, despite the many offensive weapons the Falcons possess, the pass-rush of the Buccaneers will be the key for a victory and 2-0 start to 2021.
It’s no secret that the Buccaneers’ shootout victory over the Dallas Cowboys on opening night raised some eyebrows. The Bucs secondary got somewhat due in part to the absence of Jordan Whitehead, and the injury to Sean Murphy-Bunting didn’t help matters either. Going into the game against the Falcons, who possess some potentially dangerous weapons and a veteran quarterback in Matt Ryan, the Buccaneers may have their work cut out for them on the back end of the defense.
However, if the Buccaneers pass-rush performs as it can, then the secondary is a non-issue.
A great pass-rush is crucial to any defense. Fortunately for the Bucs, they possess a fantastic one. They proved that to the world during Super Bowl LV, and that should carry over in 2021. One of the reasons a pass-rush is so important is it can potentially bail out a weaker secondary. That’s no slight at the Buccaneers secondary, but they aren’t even close to full strength, especially now with the news of Carlton Davis’ questionable status for the game. There’s an excellent chance they roll into week two with a bit of a skeleton crew in the secondary.
Even the best cornerbacks in the world can’t cover a wide receiver forever. That’s why getting to the quarterback in a timely fashion is so important. It allows the secondary to cover the opposition more efficiently, if they aren’t asked to do too much.
Matt Ryan and company may not have had an ideal week one, but the threat is still there, especially if pressure isn’t applied, and this isn’t lost on Bruce Arians. When speaking of Ryan, Bucco Bruce said that he will “light you up” if you don’t pressure him and get him off his spot.
The other side of that coin is, Ryan has struggled throughout his career when under pressure. It’s a flaw in his game the Buccaneers are more than equipped to take advantage of, especially if Vita Vea is able to continue to create pressure almost single-handedly. Arians also talked about how Todd Bowles has been awesome at coming up with packages to feature rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in different ways, so be on the lookout for that.
At the end of the day, the Buccaneers should win this game. However, despite their week one struggles, the Falcons may be able to put up points to try and match their familiar foe in the Bucs if the pass-rush isn’t there. The Buccaneers secondary shouldn’t be the biggest concern going in, the emphasis should be on the pass-rush, and given the personnel of both teams, the Bucs should be more than fine.