Bucs face stiff test in Minnesota
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 1-0 and every one is feeling pretty good and optimistic after watching the Bucs dismantle the bears 29-7. Everyone that is except HC Dirk Koetter. Koetter was happy to get the win but was surpressing the enthusiasm as he said the Bucs have a lot of things to clean up after watching the tape of game. Third down efficiency and red zone scoring are just a few of the area’s the Bucs can improve in.
After holding the Bears to 20 yards rushing, the Minnesota Vikings will present a greater challenge in rookie Dalvin Cook. Cook out of FSU was high on the Bucs board before OJ Howard fell to the Bucs at No. 18. Cook is a dual threat as a RB and also as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Cook has not an opportunity to catch a lot of balls, but is currently third in the league with 191 yards rushing. Cook also seems to get stronger as the game goes along as 166 of those yards have come in the second half.
The versatility of Cook will test the Bucs linebackers as Kwon Alexander will miss the game as he recovers from the hamstring injury that occurred during the Bears game. Davonte Bond should be back this game and he will team up with Lavonte David and rookie Kendall Beckwith along with Adarious Glanton to help keep the Vikings offense in check.
The Vikings also announced that QB Sam Bradford will miss his second straight game with a non-contact knee injury. Bradford injured the knee against New Orleans a couple of weeks ago and has been sidelined since.
The Bucs should be familiar with his replacement the “great“ Case Keenum. Seems that Keenum has the Bucs number as he is 2-0 as starter against Tampa Bay. Most recently Keenum led the LA Rams to a 37-32 win over the Bucs in Tampa last year. If you’re the Bucs you can’t take Keenum lightly. Remember last year at this time we were all scratching our heads wondering what was going on with our defense as the Bucs were in the process of giving up 27 points a game the first half of last season. Since the bye last season The Bucs defense has been in the top 10 in the league in takeaways, interceptions, and sacks.
Keenum has plenty of targets to throw to led by WR Stefan Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph. Diggs is the Vikings best WR, and Rudolph has become one of the better tight ends in the NFL.
Defensively the DL is the strength of the Vikings defense. Led by All-Pro DE Everson Griffin and Danielle Hunter, The Griffin matchup with Bucs OL Donovan Smith will be a key match-up In this game. Hunter had 12.5 sacks last year as a situational pass rusher.
The LB’s led by Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks will be key to keeping Bucs back Jacquizz Rodgers in check. Kendricks was the leading tackler on the Vikings team LY With 126.
In the secondary the Vikings start a couple of pro bowlers in Xavier Rhodes, and Harrison Smith. Rhodes could see some one on one match-ups with WR Mike Evans which will be another key match-up In the game.
Can the Bucs LB’s contain Dalvin Cook? Will the Bucs defense improve their third down efficiency? Offensively, can the Bucs improve their red zone efficiency? Last week the Bucs were 2/5.
With Case Keenum at QB for the Vikings I think the Bucs are going to go into this game with a little something to prove. I think they keep Cook in check and defeat the Vikings 24-13.
—Kwon Alexander and Chris Baker are both out for the Bucs this week
— The Bucs-Giants game in Tampa Oct 1 is a sellout.