The Buccaneers and Panthers are each facing challenges and potential lineup changes on offense as they prepare for their first of two matchups over the next three weeks
The immediate goal remains for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Read also : Polish leader Meghan Webster is ready to fly to Hawaii to march and perform in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade. The way they have to achieve it has changed dramatically.
The Buccaneers failed to lock up the 2021 NFC South in Week 15, losing Sunday night’s contest to the New Orleans Saints, 9-0. The loss hurt but didn’t hurt the Bucs’ chances of winning the division; Just one win in their three games or one loss for the Saints in the last three weeks will take care of that. Arguably the most important takeaway from that game Sunday night was an offense that suddenly disappeared without its top three weapons.
And so the Buccaneers will head to Carolina in Week 16 with another shot at wrapping up the South but without Chris Godwin, Mike Evans or Leonard Fournette to help them do it. Linebacker and defensive captain Lavonte David will also be unavailable. The Buccaneers’ defense is close to full strength but Tom Brady and the league’s best pass rusher will have to forge a new path forward, at least for the next few weeks. Godwin, in particular, is a sore thumb as the team’s leading rusher is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL.
“It’s just another guy and the positions of the players have changed,” said Head Coach Bruce Arians. “Some are starting now, while others are getting on quickly. This time of the year, you don’t have to be a player anymore, you have to accept your role and your opportunity.”
The Bucs struggled before and after their players were injured Sunday night but are expected to have a week of practice. this will help the members to be better prepared for special duties next weekend.
“There is no excuse for a loss, but it will help,” said Arian during the preparations. “Everybody will play the way they practiced, hopefully and we don’t have to change it like we did with that ball.”
The Bucs will hope to get Evans and Fournette back into the offensive mix for a playoff run, but the job now is to hit the road and face against the Carolina Panthers, who will get two shots to ruin the Bucs’ playoff hopes. Carolina and Tampa Bay meet again at Raymond James Stadium in the final week of the regular season. The Panthers will counter the Bucs’ rebounding offense with the league’s second-ranked defense, which features a strong pass rush, a new star in safety Jeremy Chinn and 2019. NFL Defensive Player of the Year running back Stephon Gilmore.
Carolina also has a chance for a big change in Week 16, barring losing someone to injury. But, quarterback Sam Darnold could come out of I.R. list, giving Head Coach Matt Rhule a decision to make. Will he stick with Cam Newton after four straight losses with Newton at the helm, or will he go back to Darnold, who started the first nine games after that? was it a terrible trade that brought the first Jet to Charlotte? The Buccaneers may not know which quarterback they will face until late in the week.
It may not matter, depending on how close Tampa Bay’s defense is to reproducing the best game from Sunday night. Kevin Minter will replace David in the starting lineup for the second time this season but otherwise the Buccaneers defense is largely healthy and appears to be headed in the right direction.
“Honestly, we’re second in a row in the lineup — we’ve definitely improved throughout the season,” Minter said. “We’ve just got to keep climbing. I know it’s a long season, but like you said, we’re hustling and that’s what this time of year is about – December football – start putting your foot down. on the desk and get ready for these. playoffs. We’ve just got to keep going. Like I said, keep climbing.”
The Bucs want to be the top team heading into the playoffs, just like last year. It will be more difficult to overcome their current injury situation, but they are far from the only team in the NFL dealing with missing stars. To make another long run in 2021, the Buccaneers must first punch their ticket to the playoffs, and that’s the goal this weekend as they head to match the other enemy of the group.
GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4) at Carolina Panthers (5-9) See the article : Watch: Tennessee cheerleader video goes viral on Saturday.
Sunday, December 26, 1:00 p.m. ET
Bank of America Stadium (capacity: 73,778)
TV Broadcast Team: Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Mark Sanchez (analyst), Laura Okmin (writer)
Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Building
Radio Broadcasters: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (writer)
ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES
Last year, the Buccaneers got their first season sweep of the Panthers since 2016. This may interest you : James Robinson, Jawaan Taylor back in team practice | training camp report. Now they can try to take the series in consecutive seasons for the first time since the NFC South was formed in 2002.
Ever since Tampa Bay and Carolina became neighbors in the new NFC South Division nearly two decades ago, their title battle has always been one-sided, though that side has often shifted to back and forth. From 2002-17, 13 of the 16 seasons between these two teams ended in a sweep, including each from 2009 to 2017. Carolina went in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2014. The Bucs had sweeps in 2002, 2010, 2012 and 2016. Interestingly, the three splits came in years when the Buccaneers didn’t make the playoffs (2005, 2007) or really should have (2008 … which ended with a four game losing streak. after a 9-3 start ). After two splits in 2018 and 2019, the series returned to sweep mode, with Tampa Bay winning both in 2020.
Last year, the Bucs won in September at home against Carolina which was the first of 15 they would accumulate on their way to the Super Bowl championship, and the first victory as a Buccaneer for Tom Brady. Leonard Fournette paced the offense with 116 yards and two touchdowns and Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead both caught Teddy Bridgewater in the 31-17 final. The rematch in Charlotte in November was a high-scoring affair that included the longest drive in Buccaneers history, Ronald Jones’ 98-yard touchdown dash. Surprisingly, the Buccaneers scored 10 straight possessions to pull away from the Panthers for a 46-23 win.
In 2019, the Buccaneers got a strong win in Charlotte on Thursday night in Week 2 when Vernon Hargreaves knocked Christian McCaffrey out from two yards out just shy of the high post. the fourth down drive in a straight line. That 20-14 Bucs victory was balanced four weeks later by a 37-26 victory for Carolina in a game played in London.
Overall, the Panthers are 24-17 in the all-time series, including 12-9 in Carolina home games. The Bucs and Panthers met three times before the NFC South and Tampa Bay won two of them, including one in Carolina’s inaugural 1995 campaign.
The 2019 game in London officially counted as a home game for the Buccaneers. It was the first time the Bucs and Panthers met in a game outside of the country, when the two teams met outside of North Carolina, at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in early 1995. The Bucs’ first win in September of 2019 included three sacks by Shaq Barrett, Chris Godwin’s 121-yard, one-touchdown outing and a strong performance by Peyton Barber.
Perhaps the most notable victories for Tampa Bay in the series against Carolina came in 2002 and 2005. In the middle of the 2002 Super Bowl campaign, the Buccaneers came from a loss in Philadelphia (again) and had to play Carolina without them. quarterback, Brad Johnson, who woke up with the flu. The defense held strong and the Bucs trailed 9-6 at the end of the fourth quarter before Martin Gramatica saved the day with two long field goals. In 2005, the Buccaneers were in the midst of a three-game postseason streak when they went to Bank of America Stadium and won a battle for first place 20-10. score. Ronde Barber capped that game with a sack and an interception, becoming the first cornerback to reach 40 interceptions and 25 sacks in his career.
SENIOR COACHING STAFFS
KEY 2021 ROSTER ADDITIONS
ADDITIONAL 2021 CHANGES OF NOTE
• While “keeping the band” together on the field for another championship game, the Buccaneers were also able to keep their coaching staff almost intact for 2021. Just leave the Offensive Assistant Antwaan Randle El, who went to coach the players up. Dan Campbell’s staff in Detroit. Two additions to Arians’ staff: Offensive Assistant A.Q. Shipley and Assistant General Coach Thaddeus Lewis.
• Mike Greenberg, who assisted Jason Licht in efforts to maintain the Bucs’ Super Bowl-winning roster as director of football operations, was promoted during the offseason. to the vice president of football management. Greenberg is entering his 12th year with the team.
• After playing their 2020 home schedule in front of an audience that starts from empty stands at about 25% capacity, the Buccaneers will be at full capacity at Raymond James Stadium in 2021. And of the meaning of absolute power. All of the league’s games this season have been sold out; the last time every game was sold out at Raymond James Stadium was in 2009.
• The Buccaneers unveiled new 2020 uniforms that were heavily influenced by the team’s first season Super Bowl look but also included an all-new set. and pewter shirts and pants. The team had four league wins last season: shutout, shutout, shutout. on leather and red on pewter. The Bucs will use a fifth kit in 2021, with a red jersey over white pants, which they will wear on Sunday night at home against the Saints in Week 15.
• Veteran big man Antonio Brown is not a new addition to the team in 2021 but he will have a chance to make a big impact this season. Brown joined the Buccaneers midseason last year and played in the final eight games of the regular season, recording 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns. He also appeared in three postseason contests and scored a memorable goal in Super Bowl LV. This time Brown will be a key part of the offense from Day One, and he will have more freedom after knee surgery next season. From 2013-18, Brown averaged about 114 catches for 1,524 yards and 13 touchdowns per season.
· The Panthers started the new year by hiring a new general manager, with Scott Fitterer getting the job after a lengthy search that included 15 candidates. Fitterer, who spent 20 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks and was most recently the Vice President of the football team, replaces Marty Hurney, who was fired last December. The Panthers also hired Dan Morgan, the former Buffalo Bills director of athletics from 2018-20, as assistant general manager. Morgan previously worked with Fitterer in Seattle.
· Carolina didn’t make a big change to Matt Rhule’s coaching staff at the end of the season but did make a big change earlier this month. In their bye week, the Panthers parted ways with Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady, who left LSU to join Rhule at Carolina in 2020. Rhule later handed the coordinator position and playing duties to Jeff Nixon. , who was a senior assistant and running backs coach. Nixon previously coached under Rhule at Baylor from 2017-19.
· The Panthers got a new quarterbacks coach in 2021 when Jeff Peetz left to be the offensive coordinator at LSU. Carolina brought in Sean Ryan, who held the same position for the Texans in 2017-18 and the Lions in 2019-20. Carolina also added two sons of former NFL coaches to the staff, with Tony Sparano, Jr. came on as an assistant coach and Kevin M. Gilbride joined the staff as a defense researcher. Also, Frank Okam was promoted from assistant defensive line coach, replacing Mike Phair.
· Since the last time the Buccaneers saw the Panthers, Carolina made not one but two terrible moves at quarterback. In April, the Panthers traded for Sam Darnold, sending a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second and fourth-round picks to the Jets for the first third-round pick in 2018. Carolina has its own 2020 starter, Teddy Bridgewater, at. Denver in another business. Darnold started the first nine games before landing on injured reserve with a shoulder strain. Not long after that development, the Panthers decided to turn back the clock by signing their franchise superstar, Cam Newton. Newton spent the 2020 season in New England after being released by the Panthers but did not play in 2021 after losing a bid for the Patriots’ starting job in the rookie Mac Jones. Newton has started the Panthers’ last four games, all losses. Darnold recently returned to practice and could be activated this week.
· The Panthers also had to turn to Plan B at cornerback after Christian McCaffrey was injured for the majority of the season for two consecutive years. McCaffrey missed a lot of time with a foot injury and played in just seven games before an ankle injury sidelined him for the remainder of 2021. Chuba Hubbard, the fourth round pick, has become the leading running back and the team has also signed Ameer Abdullah. in October when he was released by the Vikings.
Next Men Up – So how will the Buccaneers move forward on offense without Godwin, Evans and Fournette? There is no single easy answer. Antonio Brown’s return from a three-game suspension (and the five games he missed before the ankle injury) has reliever, and Bruce Arians said Brown could be good for 30-35 snaps this Sunday. With Godwin out for the year, Brown may be the Bucs’ best way to create the quick, game-winning catch behind that has become a big part of the Tom Brady-led offense. in 2021. Otherwise, the Bucs will look for increased workloads from young receivers Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller and Jaelon Darden. Tom Brady had a hard time moving the ball and three in the second half of last week’s game, despite a very good Saints team, but now he has the week to plan the offense more about their different strengths. On the back end, Ronald Jones will have a chance to step up in Fournette’s absence, as Fournette did last December when Jones was hit with a few injuries. The Buccaneers also added veteran Le’Veon Bell over the week, which may help fill the pass-rushing role that has largely gone to Fournette and Giovani Bernard (now in I.R.). Second-year Ke’Shawn Vaughn could also get a few opportunities. How the Bucs offense will fare after a sudden, late-season personnel change is an open question, and one we won’t begin to get an answer to today. Sunday.
Newton, Darnold or Walker? – As mentioned above, Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule has a decision to make this week, and this is one that may affect the team’s off-season plans. When Sam Darnold landed on injured reserve after nine starts with a shoulder injury, Carolina decided to bring back the franchise’s best player, Cam Newton. Newton spent the 2020 season with the Patriots after the Panthers, after hiring Rhule, decided to go in a new direction, first with Teddy Bridgewater and then this year with the trade to acquire Darnold. Newton’s quick comeback was a winner, when he caught red flags and ran for two touchdowns in a Week 10 win over Arizona that was started by P.J. Walker. Newton replaced Walker early the following week and Carolina had lost four straight games. Meanwhile, Darnold returned to practice last week and Rhule was cleared to contact agents this week, meaning the four-year pass rusher could be activated this week and possibly again. back to the starting line. None of the Panthers’ three quarterbacks had a better passer rating than 71.4 or a better TD-INT ratio, and together they threw 12 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. However, Darnold led his new team to a 3-0 start and showed some of Newton’s still-possessive qualities. Newton has been a great weapon on the ground in his four starts and Walker, as mentioned, won his one start of the season. The decision made by Rhule could combine both the desire to compete in the next three games and the need to determine whether the team wants to move forward with Darnold or Newton in 2022.
Related Links – Tampa Bay’s offensive line is impressive – and almost fully healthy – in the 2021 season, which is a big reason why The Buccaneers have the NFL’s second-ranked offense. After Sunday night’s carnage stripped the offense of its best players, those O-Linemen knew it was more important for them to carry the load in the coming weeks. Center Ryan Jensen said: “As an offense, we always want to control the game. And, obviously with the guys we lost, we had to do that well. We have to play our best game from here until some of these guys are healthy. sacks last Sunday, but the Buccaneers ranked first in sacks allowed per game (3.44%) and averaged 4.36 yards per carry, incl. 4.7 by Ronald Jones, the new lead after Leonard Fournette’s injury, however, Sunday’s game at Bank of America, is will be a good example of strength-on-strength because the Panthers defense is pretty good in those areas.. Along with Haason Reddick (11.0 sacks) and Brian Burns (9.0) leading the way, the Panthers have accumulated 36 sacks and are fourth in sacks per pass (8.63%) on defense. (4.10) Tom Brady has helped the Bucs line play a great defense all season by getting rid of the ball quickly, but it may take a little longer to stop. without Fournette, Chris Godwin or Mike Evans available.
Defensive Surge – The Buccaneers won their last eight games last year, including Super Bowl LV, and a driving force in that run was an offense that suddenly revolved around Tom Brady after the week. It may be difficult for the Buccaneers to take their offensive game to another level down the stretch this season as many key players are out, but their defense may be able to step up. Until recently, the defense had a lot of injury concerns throughout the season, but now that part is starting to get back to what it should have looked like at the beginning of the season. With the exception of Lavonte David, who will return early from a foot injury, the Bucs are close to solidifying their defensive line. Cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis recently returned from injured reserve, while safety Jordan Whitehead is back after a two-game absence. due to a calf injury and safety Mike Edwards has been suspended for three games. As disappointing as last Sunday’s finale was, the Buccaneers defense showed what it can do when healthy and on the field, holding the Saints to a scoreless streak. three, 214 yards and 3.5 yards per game. By almost any measure, this was the Buccaneers’ best defense of the season, despite a losing streak. The defense will now finish the regular season with three games against two teams in the bottom eight of the league in scoring. The Bucs may have trouble continuing their 30-point lead, but they may not need to score as much if the defense can stay in that groove.
Schedule Watch – Before the Buccaneers tip off Sunday in Charlotte they will see the 8-6 49ers take on the Titans, the 11-3 Packers host the Browns and 10-4 Cardinals square off against the Colts. All those games are on Thursday and Saturday, and will also have a bearing on the overall standings of the conference. The Buccaneers will have more chances to win the NFC South but the NFC pecking order could go in many different directions. The Buccaneers’ 6-4 record in conference play means they could have a tough time at the end of the regular season if they go down; the Packers and 10-4 Cowboys are better in that category. Tampa Bay has a road game against Dallas but it will only be a game if it ends in a two-way tie between the two teams. Of course, the Buccaneers still have their sights set on a first-round pick and a first-round pick, but that goal became more difficult to achieve after Sunday’s results. The Buccaneers will likely need Green Bay to drop two of their last three games to have a shot at the top seed; the Packers finish with home games against Cleveland and Minnesota and a trip to Detroit. The players and coaches of Tampa Bay will focus on their own games until they get in the book, but because the NFC race is so full and too complicated for success at home, it will be difficult then one eye on the goal. .
1. Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown and Panthers CB Stephon Gilmore
Brown is back after missing 8 games due to injury and suspension, but won’t be back in the same role. With Chris Godwin out for the year and Mike Evans currently out with pain, Brown appears to be the team’s number one right now. It was a similar situation in 2019, when both Evans and Godwin went down in the final month and Breshad Perriman responded with three 100-yard games as number one. Brown certainly has the talent and track record to suggest he could do something similar at the opportunity; before the injury he was averaging 83.6 yards per game and a career-best 10.0 yards per carry. Without worrying about Godwin or Evans, the Panthers could decide to deal with Brown and Gilmore, who is only two years removed from winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. During that season, Gilmore allowed a passer rating of just 38.0 as the closest player to a target player, and he remains one of the team’s most talented players. NFL in his first season with the Panthers. If Gilmore tries to play coverage on Brown it could give the Bucs an opportunity for big plays; since 2020, Brown has averaged 8.93 miles per hour in one second of snaps, the league’s fastest mark according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
2. Panthers G Michael Jordan vs. Buccaneers DL Will Holston
Carolina has already run the ball on 53.5% of their first-and-10 snaps this year, 12th-most in the league, and has reportedly been eager to run more after changing the offense. Coordinator Joe Brady and Jeff Nixon earlier this month. Tampa Bay still has the NFL’s third-best rushing defense but it hasn’t been as strong as it has been in 2019, 2020 or the first six weeks of this season. In their last eight games the Buccaneers have allowed 114.6 rushing yards per game. Because the Panthers have struggled to run the ball and defend the pass this season, the Buccaneers want to shut down Carolina’s running game first to try to make the offense one-sided, and provide opportunities to pass. One of the key battles in this run/stop run rivalry will be between Jordan, Carolina’s left guard, and Gholston, Tampa Bay’s underrated run-stuffing lineman. Gholston had six tackles last week, mostly against the Bucs’ defensive front, as the Bucs held Alvin Kamara to one of the league’s leading rushing attacks with 61 yards and 2.0 yards. yards per carry. Jordan was one of four players the Panthers used at left guard this season, holding down that position for seven of the last eight games. Veteran Pat Elflein started the season at left guard but was injured, replaced by Dennis Daley and later moved to center to replace the injured Matt Paradis. The Panthers acquired Jordan off waivers from the Bengals in September and later placed him on the practice squad; he started 19 games over two seasons in Cincinnati.
3. Buccaneers T Donovan Smith vs. Panthers OLB Haason Reddick
Smith wasn’t one of three Tampa Bay players named to the Pro Bowl on Wednesday, though he’s likely had as good a season as anyone on that unit. high. We’ve already identified the power of the Panthers’ pass rush against the Bucs’ O-Line as one of the main stories this weekend, and one of the best battles to come. on the left side of the Bucs’ line. which protects Tom Brady’s blind side. Reddick is listed as “ROLB” or right outside linebacker on the Panthers’ depth chart but has seen plenty of action on both sides of Carolina’s front. He will certainly get a good number of one-on-one matchups with Smith, who helped the Buccaneers allow the lowest number of sacks in the NFL despite attempting more passes. Reddick has been a free agent game for the Panthers, after last December’s game in Arizona with a team-high 11.0 sacks and 18 quarterbacks this season. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians drafted Reddick to the Cardinals in 2017 and on Thursday said the first 13-round pick was a “great player.” Arians also said that sometimes the Panthers use a package that includes Reddick and three other rushers at the same time and said that blocking is a “hell of a challenge.”
4. Panthers WR D.J. Moore vs. Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis
With Christian McCaffrey out due to injury, Moore has easily become Carolina’s most valuable player. His 78 catches and 986 receiving yards are at least twice as many as the next Panther on the list. Moore is one of the NFL’s best receivers after the hole, and last year he averaged 18.3 yards per reception. Moore has been dealing with a leg injury for the past two weeks but was able to put it out this past Sunday in Buffalo, catching six passes for 48 yards. The Panthers had Wednesday off but will certainly do everything they can to get him on the field against the Buccaneers. As mentioned above, Tampa Bay’s secondary is starting to get healthy and the return of Carlton Davis two weeks ago has made a big difference. Davis has broken up four passes in the past two games and has a team-high nine passes defensed in just six of the first 14 games. Davis has shown the ability to be a corner to shut down and play the opposing side’s best defense when the team asked him to play this role. That could be a decision on Sunday and Moore’s importance to the Panthers offense is very clear.
DNP: Did not participate in the experiments
LP: Limited participation in practice
FP: Full participation in practice
Mostly sunny, high 76, low 56, 7% chance of rain in the afternoon, 58% humid, wind from the WSW at 8 mph.
Referee: Brad Allen (8th season, 8th as referee)
INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
Scorer: K Ryan Succop, 98
Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 4,348
Passer rating: QB Tom Brady, 100.4
Yards Saved: RB Leonard Fournette, 812
Receiving Yards: WR Chris Godwin, 1,103
Interceptions: S Mike Edwards, 3
Points scored: K Zane Gonzalez, 82
Drop: QB Sam Darnold/QB Cam Newton, 5
Passing Yards: QB Sam Darnold*, 1,986
Passer Rating: QB Sam Darnold*, 71.4
Hitting Chart: RB Chuba Hubbard, 500
Yards Gained: WR D.J. Moore, 986
Interceptions: CB Stephon Gilmore/CB Donte Jackson/LB Shaq Thompson, 2
TEAM STAT RANKINGS
Offense: First (304.9 ypg)
Rushing offense: 25th (97.6 ypg)
First Downs in Game: Two (24.0)
First Allowance Allowance: First (3.44%)
Scoring Defense: 14th (21.9 ppg)
Pass Defense: 21st (244.6 ypg)
First Down Allowed in Game: t-17th (20.6)
Third-Down Pct. Permit: 13th (38.3%)
Sacks per pass: 15th (6.62%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Acceptance: 12th (54.2%)
Scoring Offense: 25th (19.4 ppg)
Offense: 29th (195.4 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 16th (112.6 ypg)
First Downs in Game: 20 (19.4)
Allowance for Final Draft: 23rd (7.42%)
Scoring Defense: 18th (22.4 ppg)
Pass Defense: Second (178.8 ypg)
Rush defense: t-19th (115.6 ypg)
First Downs Allowed in Game: 4th (18.1)
Third-Down Pct. Permit: 8th (36.9%)
Sacks per pass: fourth (8.63%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Acceptance: t-28th (69.1%)