Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gameday: Wounded Bucs face equally wounded Panthers

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

What’s At Stake?

In essence, a reprieve from the governor. Let’s face the facts here folks: if the Bucs lose this one, they become a team of dead men walking. They’ll be sitting at 1-4 and the talk will likely turn to trade possibilities, the draft and whether head coach Dirk Koetter should keep his job. That said, the Bucs would really get a boost from winning this game. For starters it would leave them unbeaten in the division, which could prove critical if they could ever get on a roll, which is possible. After all, they are starting to get healthy again and could be poised for a run once they return from the bye. You really hate to categorize a game as must-win in the first week in October but this one qualifies.

Key Matchup

It’s hard to say who’s struggled more during the early going this season, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston or the Panthers secondary. While Winston has thrown eight picks and lost two fumbles, the Panthers revamped and revamped yet again secondary has allowed eight touchdown passes (one less than the Bucs) and five passing plays of more than 40 yards (also just one less than the Bucs). Winston will be looking to dial back his aggressiveness just a tad this week and make better decisions with the ball in his hand and well he should. Against the Panthers young corners, who play mostly zone schemes, Winston has a chance to put together a big day just so long as he has the time to find his targets.

Statistically speaking

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen usually warms up on game days by catching passes from backup quarterback Derek Anderson. Put Anderson in a game, though, and Olsen really heats up. In the only two games Anderson has started the last five years, Olsen has been his top target, catching a team-high eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown in the first and another team-high 10 for 110 yards in the second. In case you didn’t know, both of those games were played during the 2014 season and both were Panthers victories over the Bucs, who will probably have to deal with that Olsen-Anderson combination yet again in this match-up. The good news is, the Bucs have plenty of tape to study to figure out a remedy.

He said it

“You talk about a competitive spirit and a will to compete and make every play? Man, that’s who you want to build your team around. Is he there yet? No. But you’d rather have to try and reel a guy back in than have to try to develop that toughness or that will to win and competitive spirit. And that’s what we have at quarterback. We need to embrace that and continue to mold that and develop that. That’s coaching, that’s playing, that’s run the football better and him taking care of it better.” Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken on quarterback Jameis Winston.

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