[2014] Week 8 [preview] Vikings @ Bucs

The Buccaneers match up against Minnesota Vikings this week, a seemingly beatable opponent. Overall the Vikings are a very average team this season. Hopefully the bye week rejuvenated the team and the Buccaneers end this week 2-5.

Buccaneers Offense against Vikings Defense

There is no doubt: the defense is the strength of this Vikings team. The defensive line is the heart of the defense. This defense gets a lot of pressure and is currently 6th in the league for sacks. This defensive scheme shows blitz a lot but does not always follow through. Our offensive line will have to be on-point this game for the rest of the offense to stand a chance.

The Vikings linebackers play a little more conservative and focus primarily on containment rather than coverage. The Green Bay Packers had a lot of success running the ball on them with good blocking on the Vikings front seven. What this means for our inconsistent offense remains to be seen, as blocking has not been our forte.

Similarly, the Vikings secondary plays more passive. Our receivers should have no problem getting open.

Overall our offense has a chance should we be able to control and contain the Vikings dominant defensive line.

Buccaneers Defense against Vikings Offense

The Vikings offense is similar to ours in that it is very conservative. A majority of its plays consist of running the ball or dumping it off to a running back or receiver behind the line of scrimmage. Our linebackers should play close to the line of scrimmage to stuff this offense. The running backs are not ones to run through tackles, unlike disgraced RB Adrian Peterson. The offense is really missing that element since his fall from grace. In all, our tackling just has to be average and we can stop their run game.

Vikings receivers are similarly unimpressive. They avoid contact when possible, so as long as they are even moderately covered, there really is little threat of a completion and certainly not points after the catch.

QB Teddy Bridgewater (#5) shows a lot of promise. However, like most rookie quarterbacks he also makes mistakes. Scrambling is not one of his strong suits and neither is accuracy. Furthermore, his offensive line is struggling this year. In just the last three games he has been sacked in the last three games by: Detroit Lions DT Ndamakung Suh (#90) twice, Buffalo Bills DT Marcell Dareus (#99) twice, and Green Bay Packers NT Letroy Guion (#98) 1.5 times. Our $100 million man Gerald McCoy (#93), who is lauded as the best defensive tackle in the league, should have a 3+ sack game at minimum.

Spotlight: Two teams in similar circumstances

After disappointing seasons in 2013, both the Vikings and Buccaneers organizations cleaned house. Both teams went with defensive-minded coaches. Both teams face high-flying offenses in their division every year. Both teams have young quarterbacks on conservative offenses. However, the differences are striking.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was long-time defensive coordinator at the Cincinnati Bengals because snagging the Vikings position. His defense has been a force in the league for years, using a lot of trickery and being ruthless overall. His defense featured players like DT Geno Atkins (#97), LB Vontaze Burfict (#55) and NT Domata Peko (#94). While Zimmer has been raved about and considered for several head coaching positions, this is his first run at building his own team. His defensive line’s aggressiveness is his own personal hallmark. While the rest of the team could use some work, the team appears to have a good foundation. Their record is about the same as ours, but the team looks much more polished.

Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith is getting a do-over. Having been an NFL coach before and being ousted after mediocre season after mediocre season, he is getting another shot. It hasn’t started out so well. He is also known to be a defensive minded coach, however his hallmark of takeaways has not been seen this season. His defense is much more passive than Zimmer’s and leaving many to scratch their heads and wonder when this defensive mastermind we were promised is going to show up. The team overall looks sloppy at best. In reality the team is still in the running for the division, but we would not want to see this team compete in a PeeWee Championship, let alone the professional level.

Conclusion

There is no doubt we have a chance to win this game, provided the Buccaneers:

  • Play well on the offensive line, including good run blocking, and minimize the damage the Vikings defensive line can do
  • Linebackers play close to the line of scrimmage
  • Coverage should be average at minimum
  • McCoy should bring in 3+ sacks against the Vikings struggling offensive line

Go Bucs!

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