A real television drama that fictional characters Tony Soprano and Walter White would be envious of what takes place this Sunday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head to the state of Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots.
The starring roles, of course, will go to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who are on opposing sidelines for the very first time. The supporting cast however, as so often is the case, will be key in determining which cast is really ready for Prime time.
Week 4 is upon us, so here are four keys to the Bucs ensuring there are no plot twists in the story, and the end is a happy one with a victory over the Patriots.
Key # 1: Make the script tough for Patriots quarterback Mac Jones
So far this season, Jones has been solid in leading the Patriots to 1-2 record. He had his worst game of the year last week against a New Orleans Saints squad that, quite frankly, doesn’t have Tampa Bay’s fire power. The kid needs to be harassed into making mistakes by the Buccaneers defense and exposed as a rookie signal caller on a big stage playing his fourth NFL Game ever and his first under the bright lights.
Key #2: Upstage the home team early
The fans will be rabid in Foxborough, and the longer the Patriots stay in the game, the more they and the crowd will believe they have a chance to win. The way to ensure the visitors are the only ones taking a curtain call is executing and getting ahead quickly. Doing this at the outset makes key Number one much easier to do later when New England has to playing catch up by abandoning the run.
Key #3: Don’t assist the antagonists
The Bucs hurt themselves with 7 penalties last week against the Los Angeles Rams. Luckily, there were no turnovers. Giving this young New England cast led by an A-List and award-winning Coach any help by making errors could be a recipe for disaster. No giveaways and playing clean, disciplined football prevents this from even being a possibility.
Key #4: The leading man in the Bucs running game can’t be the Quarterback
Bottom line, Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones can’t be understudies in the ground game anymore. So far, neither has auditioned well enough in 2020 to completely win the part of RB1. One of them needs to put his best feet forward so Brady can concentrate on using what has made him a legend, his right arm.
The entire NFL world and maybe Hollywood, too, will be focused on the Buccaneers and Patriots this Sunday Night. If the Bucs can choreograph enough successful plays, execute their blocking, and memorize these four keys, they should put on a winning performance worthy of the number one show in the league that they are.