NFL matchup preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Dallas Cowboys
The hiring of Todd Bowles to replace Bruce Arian
Week 1 of the NFL season has started, and the Buccaneers will play later tonight. This offseason has been especially rough for our Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Tom Brady's retirement, un-retirement, Ali Marpet's retirement, the departure of key veteran free agents, the hiring of Todd Bowles to replace Bruce Arians as he moves into an advisory role, Gronk's retirement, and more drama surrounding Tom Brady, there has been a lot going on with the Patriots (leaks of his plans to join the dolphins and then his absence from the team which now appears to be due to personal issues at home). There has been plenty to unpack for our team.
The first game of the season against the Cowboys
But now it's time for football again. In tonight's primetime game, the Buccaneers will play their first game of the season against the Cowboys. Last year, we started our season against the same team. Our first game against the Cowboys was a nail-biter, and we barely won 31-29. Last year, Dak Prescott threw for more than 400 yards in this game. This year, Tampa Bay will have to focus on stopping Dak Prescott's passing game.
Faith in CeeDee Lamb
One big change for the Cowboys this year is that they no longer have Amari Cooper, who was their best receiver in last year's game against their second-best player and us overall. Cooper was a dynamic playmaker, so trading him to the Browns was a bit of a risky move. However, they have a lot of faith in CeeDee Lamb, who was their top receiver last year, Michael Gallup, and rookie Jalen Tolbert to keep carrying the load.
Dak Prescott had the fourth-highest completion percentage
Last season, Dak Prescott had the fourth-highest completion percentage in the league, which should help his receivers. To give our line more time to put pressure on Dak, our corners will have to be aggressive at the line and throw their receivers off their routes. This should make Dak's throws less accurate. The Dallas offence likes to pass the ball around a lot, so Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting will all be very busy.
Game-changer who can easily get to the quarterback
Even though we lost Ndamukong Suh, our run defence should still be very good this year. Vita Vea still eats up space in the middle, and we have one of the best linebacker groups in the game.
In terms of our offence, we need to know where Micah Parsons is lining up on every play. Parsons is a game-changer who can easily get to the quarterback, drop back into coverage, and find ball carriers before they even get to the line of scrimmage. This guy is aggressive and has a big effect on the game, so we need to ensure we don't lose track of him.
Last year, the Cowboy's defence caused more turnovers than any other team in the league. The last time we played them, they caused four turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions), so taking care of the ball will be very important this time. Trevon Diggs, a cornerback for Dallas who led the league in interceptions last year, is a big part of the problem. One thing to keep in mind is that even though Diggs caused a lot of turnovers, he also gave up a lot of yards, more than a thousand on his own last year. This makes him a very high-risk, very high-reward player. Last year, Diggs was able to pick off Brady, so it will be up to Tom and his receivers to make Diggs' risk and reward as low as possible this year.
The Cowboys' rush defence
Another important part of beating the Cowboys on Sunday night is to attack them in a balanced way. Tampa ran for the seventh most yards in the league last year. If we can get Dallas to respect the threat of the run, it should slow down their deadly pass rush and make it easier for our offensive line to hold its blocks for longer. The Cowboys' rush defence is tied for 8th worst in the league regarding yards allowed per carrying. Leonard Fournette will need to take advantage of this if he wants to impact the game this year.
Overall, I think we're in for another close game this first week of the season, and I can't wait to break down the win (hopefully) with you guys.