Packers at Buccaneers: Gameday Preview - 2022 Week 3

The Packers haven't fared well in Florida in September recently. Can that change today?

WHEN THE BUCCANEERS HAVE THE BALL

The Buccaneers offense is off to a slow start, ranking 13 in rushing yards and 23rd in passing yards.

Still, they've managed to grind out enough production to be one of only six 2-0 teams.

They're dealing with injuries to their offensive line and receivers, but running back Leonard Fournette has been beating up defenses with his punishing style. He's had over 20 carries each game and figures to be the tone-setter on offense. With temperatures expected in the 80's, he will surely start working the Packers front 7 early to wear them down. De'Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker are going to be critical to the defensive outcome today. Kenny Clark's groin injury, coupled with the heat and humidity, figure to create extra snaps for TJ Slaton (a lifelong Florida resident). Look for a generous line rotation that could give Devonte Wyatt his first extended action of the season.

Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans is (deservedly) suspended for this game, while fellow receiver Chris Godwin is out with a hamstring injury. Receivers Julio Jones, Russell Gage, and Brashad Perriman are listed as questionable with their own injuries. Scotty Miller looks like their only healthy receiver, and even he missed some practice time with a claf injury this week. The team recently signed Cole Beasley as insurance.

The Saints went man-heavy against the depleted receiver group last week and clamped the Buccaneers offense, who did nothing until some questionable penalties kept their drives moving to pull ahead late.

Green Bay has the defensive backs to copy this game plan against a worn down Bucs receiving corps... if they choose to. Tampa will probably work the short routes and a lot of crossing concepts to wear down the defense before taking their deep shots.

Left tackle Donovan Smith didn't play last week. His backup, Josh Wells, got hurt and went to IR. Undrafted practice squad promotee Brandon Walton is in line to start is Smith (who is listed as doubtful) can't return. If that happens, the Packers should mercilessly attack the blind side and expect a lot of the running game to flow to the offense's right, where stud tackle Tristan Wirfs can open lanes.

Even with the injuries, this offense is capable of getting yards in a number of ways and should not be counted out.

 

WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL

The Packers offense has not been what we expected it over the first two weeks, either.

AJ Dillon has been doing his job grinding out tough yards while punishing defenses, while Aaron Jones has been a thoroughly dominant weapon en route to averaging over 9 yards per carry. The Packers have rushed for over 300 yards in two games, but a big reason for that (aside from talented running backs) is that teams aren't putting 8 defenders in the box.

Aaron Rodgers isn't putting up gaudy numbers, but teams have respected his ability and kept defensive backs deep.

The Buccaneers, even missing defensive line stud Akiem Hicks, have the talent to man up and stop a multi-dimensional offense. Tampa Bay has a top 5 defense in total yards and Vita Vea is of the of the most impactful defensive linemen in the league - he doesn't get nearly enough credit for all the gameplans he wrecks. Tampa's strong front, has the ability to neutralize the Packers running attack, even if David Bakhtiari returns. Devin White and Lavonte David are a dynamic inside linebacker duo that has the ability to fill run gaps as effectively as anyone in the league. Marcedes Lewis, who often acts like a 6th offensive lineman, is questionable with a groin injury, which could make things even more difficult.

In the passing game, the Packers, like their opponent, may be scraping the barrel for receivers. Sammy Watkins is out while Christian Watson and Randall Cobb are questionable. Allen Lazard is expected to play, but missed practice time with an ankle injury this week. Overall, it's bad enough that the Packers signed receiver Travis Fulgham to the practice squad.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers lead the NFL with 10 sacks over the first two games. With the Packers offensive line still coming together and banged up, the passing attack may have to be creative again this week. 

So far, the Packers have spread the ball around in the passing game with 6 players getting between 7 and 9 targets to lead the team and 11 players getting at least one target over the 2 games. With injuries lurking and a very tough defense, the Packers may be relying on a lot of short passes and misdirection runs again this week.

 

OTHER NOTES

It's expected be in the high 80's with plenty of humidity at kickoff, which has been historically terrible news for the Packers

With an illness taking its toll on some Packers players, the elements could wear them down more than usual

The Packers special teams have gone two games without anything majorly disastrous happening - Rich Bisaccia seems to be doing a good job

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Buccaneers, like the Packers, don't appear to have hit stride yet.

Like the Packers, the Buccaneers are also dealing with a ton of injuries.

And of course, both teams still have plenty of talent.

I think this is going to be a close game. Whichever team can get their running game going first in the heat will have a huge advantage. I'm very nervous about picking the Packers to win, but I think they are building early momentum and I expect Matt LaFleur to come into this one with one of his best gameplans so the Packers can win a close one.

Packers 30, Buccaneers 27

 

 

 

Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan's Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and PackersForTheWin.com.

Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.

 

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Comments (13)

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croatpackfan's picture

September 25, 2022 at 08:10 am

Bruce I think you gave honest report.

For me, despite going 1-2, win or loss are not important, but matters how Packers will play vs very good opponent. If they lose but keep game close that may tell us a lot of the team.

My hope is that young receivers, Romeo Doubs and Toure (if Packers will use him) might have very good game and bring necessary spark to the offense. That should open possibilities for Bobby and for Aaron Jones (as receiver) and for our RB duo on the ground.

I believe that short passing to move the ball and hard running will be the key for the success.

I believe this team, because (or despite) of youth at receivers has little advantage, as opponents do not have enough tape of them.

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wildbill's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:30 am

There are no moral victories in the NFL, just win baby!

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stockholder's picture

September 25, 2022 at 08:47 am

Protect the ball.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 25, 2022 at 01:21 pm

The Bravado Defense has to create turnovers.

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PackyCheese500's picture

September 25, 2022 at 08:53 am

Here are my thoughts:

Initially, this was the one game I thought would be a sure-fire loss for the Packers. However, with all of the Bucs’ injuries at OL and WR, I think the Packers definitely have a chance to win here. That being said, if they don’t I wouldn’t be too disappointed. Also, D-Bak is set to play. What would you think of having D-Bak and Yosh as the tackles and moving Jenkins to RG?

What will make or break the Packers in this game, I think, will be the play of the front 7. This is where the biggest mis-match is in this game, and the Packers need to exploit it. The Bucs are starting a backup center who’s never played before this season, a rookie backup LG, and a 3rd-string 2020 UDFA LT. Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark, and Dean Lowry should be able to make life hard for Brady. Not having his top 3 WRs will give them more time, too.

As for the run defense, aside from two ridiculous drives where the Bears averaged 15+ yards per carry, it actually held up well. Fournette is also not at full health, so that should help. Pass D should be great against backup WRs

As for our offense, look for Doubs and Tonyan to have larger roles. Cobb is playing, while Watson is not (I hope the injuries don’t become a trend for him). D-Bak is also returning, which is great. I wonder how rusty he is? I don’t think we can expect a good game from Rodgers in Florida in September - it will be up to Jones and Dillon. Not having to deal with Hicks will help.

Bold Prediction: Both Rodgers and Brady throw an interception. Both sides are down WRs, and while Rodgers never plays well in Florida, Brady will have to deal with greater pressure from Preston Smith, Kenny Clark, Rashan Gary and co. because his OL is so banged up. I think that neither QB will have a passer rating above 100.

Extra Bold Prediction: Preston Smith gets at least 2 more sacks. Going up against a 3rd string LT is an EXTREMELY favorable matchup for the guy who leads the league in pass-rush pressure rate by a mile. He also got 2 sacks last week and nearly got 2 sacks in week 1. He is going to disrupt the game and have another big day.

Final Prediction: Packers 7, Bucs 3. I think that the injuries on the OL and the play of key contributors like Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, and Kenny Clark and others across the entire D win us the day. It will be a defensive battle, but the Packers win because of the Bucs’ OL injuries and just how much they impact each aspect of their offense.

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Packers0808's picture

September 25, 2022 at 09:01 am

3 things today will make a big difference, Our passing game and how we use it, 2. The ball protection and how much defense can get to Brady and rattle him and 3rd like the article says will refs make some iffy calls to help Brady they usually do!

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Coldworld's picture

September 25, 2022 at 09:12 am

I don’t have a good feeling about this game. I think Brady will do more with his makeshift receivers than Rodgers will, despite our likely edge in raw talent. I think LaFleur takes the opportunity to make a clear statement of his true value, unfortunately.

I think we may actually come out and run it, but that we wont capitalize on it effectively because we won’t take risks and mostly avoid the speedy players and thus play to Tampa’s strengths.

Bakh returning “after he confirms he feels right” doesn’t help. If it’s debatable he’s ready, don’t. Tampa has a strong rush and it will use it. Rust in Bakh is particularly risky and it just makes it harder for Nijman if he has to come in mid game through injury or lack of stamina. A 90 degree game is an odd one to try out a guy who hasn’t played in two years.

Ultimately, I think we play cautiously and we thus end up doing everything that we shouldn’t against Bowles defenses—exactly what we’ve tried each time before with the exception of more runs but without the passing game to exploit that.

I hope I’m wrong, that Bakh comes through well and healthy, that Jones and Dillon can repeat last week, doing it for us essentially, that Doubs is targeted early and often and not just near the line of scrimmage and that Toure gets opportunities.

I fear we overplay Cobb, try to dink and dunk and end up forcing it while they load the short zones , knowing we aren’t going deep and aren’t threatening them with speed deeper or after the catch. A lone deep heave or two likely isn’t enough if everything else is short. We don’t have a receiver the league knows can get behind them this week to do some of the work beforehand. That would be classic LaFleur against Bowles.

This is a gilt edged opportunity to see if LaFleur has learned anything or will just trot out the oft failed (badly) tactics and blame it on injuries, rather than using them as an excuse to try something different and positive. If he does indeed go the low risk route we not only waste a chance to get some growth for Doubs and Toure and lose. It will also be convincing evidence that LaFleur is not up to the job.

This is a game that we should go into with a like MM did with Matt Flynn when Flynn set the passing record. If we try and don’t succeed, our future get experience and we might pull a rabbit out of the hat and take some pressure off our O line and keep Love out of the game, at least till garbage time.

I detest losing to Brady. I detest losing by repeating past mistakes and especially when that includes not consistently trying options that could make a difference. I truly hope LaFleur proves me wrong. I will be very sour if right and elated to be proved full of it if I am doing him a disservice. To me this is a rubicon game for LaFleur as a coach. It’s not the result, but the way we obtain it, that will speak loudly to his merit.

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LambeauPlain's picture

September 25, 2022 at 10:37 am

With the sublime speed on Tampa's front 7, ML must be the Jedi Master calling "illusion of complexity" mind game plays with a steady diet of motion, play action, screens and quick passes. Move the chains, get first downs, score, melt the clock, and keep the D off the hot field.

On D, while Barry is seemingly very happy rushing 4, no blitzing...this may be the game he unleashes hell on Brady, given his receiver problems. Just a guess...I expect Walker on the blitz today. Lots of 3 and outs please.

STs..."still gaining acceptance".

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Coldworld's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:32 am

In 2020 MVS had 4 catches for 115 yards. If we don’t get Doubs and Toure deep there is no excuse against Bowles.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

September 25, 2022 at 10:47 am

lol for Cole Beasley to have a career day (eye roll).

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PeteK's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:18 am

Last time we had major WR injuries Winfree came up with a solid game vs Cards( 4 catches). He is familiar with the offense and QB so I look for him to repeat that today.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 25, 2022 at 01:19 pm

He should have been on the original 53 and Rodgers on the PS.

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wildbill's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:34 am

Teams that are very physical, as the Bucs are, always give us fits. Add being on the road and the heat, not looking for a win but if Bak&Jenkins both play and stay healthy that is a long term win.

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