The Buccaneers (6-3) will face off with the Giants (3-6) under the lights inside of Raymond James Stadium in Week 11. With a couple of road losses combined with a bye week, the defending Super Bowl Champions haven’t tasted victory in nearly a month. Although the two teams aren’t division rivals, the squads have a bit of familiarity, having faced each other in each of the last four seasons and splitting the games. If last week’s game against Washington Football Team wasn’t enough of a wake-up call for the Bucs to not take any opponent lightly, then the two teams’ recent meetings should be in the back of their minds. Will the Bucs be able to right the ship and return to their winning ways? To get a victory on Monday Night Football against the Giants, the Bucs will need to do the following:
1. Eliminate mistakes:
In each of the three losses for the Bucs this season, penalties and turnovers have been killers. Bruce Arians said that they would make it a priority to clean up mental mistakes and penalties during their bye, but that hasn’t translated to the field yet. Several false starts have led to drives being stalled, and offsides penalties on defense have been drive extenders.
Each of Tom Brady’s last five turnovers in the New Orleans and Washington games has resulted in points. With the amount of talent that the Bucs have on their roster, it is tough for anyone to beat us, so we can’t give the Giants help by beating ourselves.
2. Next man up on defense:
With reports of WR Kenny Golladay, RB Saquon Barkley, and WR Kadarius Toney nearing a return and potentially playing Monday night in Tampa, an already banged-up Tampa defense will have to embrace the next man up mentality. With Vita Vea likely out a few weeks due to a bone bruise and MCL sprain suffered last week, Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul will need to have big games in stopping the run should Barkley be a go.
Suh has been an iron man, and we will need him to continue to be healthy and have a big impact. Pierre-Paul has been dealing with a torn rotator cuff but has still been playing a high percentage of snaps. The Bucs thought they were going to get Richard Sherman back last week, but he heads to injured reserve with a grade two calf strain.
The Bucs would like to see continued improved play by both Ross Cockrell and Dee Delaney. Monday presents an opportunity for the secondary to have a better game. The Giants only have nine receiving touchdowns on the season, the same amount of receiving touchdowns that Mike Evan has alone.
3. Get offense back in drive:
The Bucs offense has not looked like itself as of late. The Bucs are fortunate to have depth at their positions, but missing players like Rob Gronkowski, Scotty Miller, and Antonio Brown have been starting to show. The offense needs to get back to the ways of pushing the football downfield and sustaining longer drives, which will, in turn, help the defense.
The last thing a banged-up Bucs defense needs is to be stuck on the field and to become exhausted. The Bucs defense looked gassed by the end of the Washington game, allowing a drive that nearly ran off the final 11 minutes of the game and was capped off with the game-sealing touchdown.
Where was Ronald Jones II last game? Dinking and dunking to Leonard Fournette all game isn’t going to work. Jones II needs to be put in the game to keep the Giants’ defense respecting the run and opening up the deep ball. The Giants run defense ranks towards the bottom of the league at 30th, so it will be a good opportunity to get him back involved.
Mike Evans seemed to be open several instances last game but didn’t see his fair share of targets. It’s great to see Fournette improving in the passing game, but the offense can’t rely upon check-downs and screens to Godwin to get them down the field. Rob Gronkowski was a full participant in practice on Thursday, and Brady would definitely welcome his favorite red-zone targets return.
The Giants pass defense ranks 25th in the league, so if the Bucs throw the ball downfield, there’s a good chance the offense will look like its ‘No risk it, no biscuit’ form.