Gameday: Bucs need cleaner game to beat Broncos

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Tampa, FL–

What’s At Stake?

Yes, the Bucs are off to another sluggish start. They have a chance today, though, to change not only the narrative on their season but the entire direction of their season. The Broncos, who have won eight straight dating back to last year, are still one of the elite teams in the league and a win by the Bucs will not only make outsiders stand up and take notice of them, it will keep the Buccaneers alive in the early running for the NFC South title. With a game a week from Monday against Carolina up next, that’s huge. This is a chance for the Bucs to all but erase the pall that has fallen over the franchise since they opened the season with a win over the Falcons. Plenty of good to be gained here today.

Key Matchup

Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter says he can’t remember a quarterback going from third string to first string the way Denver’s Trevor Siemian has. It’s enough to make you wonder if the bubble will eventually burst on this kid. It very well could, of course, and that’s where Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith comes in. Smith is as accomplished a defensive coordinator as there is in the league. He runs a complex scheme the Bucs are struggling to master but his record suggests he could throw something at Siemian that will make the first-year starter look like the untested (94 career passes) second-year player he is. How Siemian handles what Smith concocts will go a long way toward determining the outcome of this game.

Buccaneer to watch

Noah Spence became an afterthought in the Buccaneers defensive game plan last week. With the Rams throwing mostly run looks at them, the Bucs sat Spence for all but a dozen defensive snaps. The Bucs are expecting something completely different from the Broncos. They’re expecting to see a lot more spread formations and three receiver sets. If they deliver we should see a lot more of Spence. Spence is easily one of the Bucs best pass rushers but the Bucs have revealed that he’s just not “stout’’ enough yet to anchor against the run. Until that changes Spence will continue to serve as a pass rush specialist, which means he’ll really have to excel in that role to justify his draft position.

Statistically speaking

The Buccaneers pitch and catch duo of quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans is off to a record-setting start. Through three games, Winston has thrown for 929 yards, the most ever for a Buccaneers quarterback in the first three games of the season. A little less than a third of those passing yards – 301 – have come on throws to Evans, whose receiving yardage total is also the most ever for a Buccaneer through the first three games of a season. Evans also ranks in the top 10 in the NFL in receptions (21) while Winston went into the week ranked first in the league in pass attempts (142) and tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with eight.

He said it

“That’s something that, for any progress to be made, it will have to be over a much longer period of time than three days. All we can do on something like that, and it starts with me, is do the little things right on a daily basis. Then it has to add up to the performance on Sunday, for me and everybody else. You have to build that over time. That’s just something that’s not going to be different over night, but it starts with awareness. Awareness of something we need to work on. Do I think our guys are aware of what we need to do? Yes. Do I think our guys have the right mindset to attack it? Yes. Time will tell if we’re able to pull it off.” – Koetter on changing the losing culture within the Bucs organization.

Gameday: Bucs need cleaner game to beat Broncos
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