Is a Tom Brady-Aaron Rodgers meeting a big deal? Definitely.
When Rodgers' Green Bay Packers visit Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, it will mark the first game in NFL history in which both starting quarterbacks already have at least three AP NFL MVP awards. The last two times teams guided by Brady and Rodgers met each other in the regular season, the victorious quarterback went on to guide his team to the Super Bowl championship (that was Brady both times, with the Patriots in 2018 and the Bucs in 2020). The last time these two quarterbacks squared off it was in the 2020 NFC Championship Game, and their teams are once again considered prime contenders to make it that far.
The NFL's weekly "Research Notes" includes six pages devoted solely to Brady-vs.-Rodgers, so yes, we could go on. For quite a bit. However, this might not be exactly the sort of matchup you might expect from the players who finished first and second in last year's MVP voting and combined to throw for 9,431 yards and 80 touchdowns last season. Notably, this is the first time that both Brady and Rodgers have a passer rating below 100 after the first two games of a season since 2014. Only the most uncharitable reading of Brady's 82.8 mark and Rodger' 94.5 figure presents this as a decline by either the Bucs' 45-year old passer or the Packers' 38-year old leader. Rather, both are on teams that, by necessity, are undergoing something of an offensive evolution. More on that below in the "Top Storylines" Section.
Indeed, what may be most striking about this latest Bucs-Packers series – a rivalry with a rich history dating back to 20 years together in the NFC Central – is that both MVP-caliber quarterbacks will be facing very frisky defenses. In fact, it's fair to say that the Buccaneers are 2-0 and the Packers are 1-1 largely because their defenses have shown flashes of dominance. Tampa Bay has been nearly impenetrable on that side of the ball, allowing just one touchdown and a league-low 6.5 points per game through the first two weeks. Green Bay had a little trouble with Minnesota's Justin Jefferson in a Week One loss but thoroughly battered Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears last Sunday night. Green Bay's scoring defense ranks seventh, at 16.5 points allowed per game.
Tampa Bay's defense has accrued a league-high 10 sacks and while Shaquil Barrett and Devin White are off to red-hot starts much of that pass-rush success can be attributed to the creative mind of Head Coach Todd Bowles, the defensive architect and play-caller. With a deep group of defenders who have grown up together in his system plus a few key additions in the offseason, Bowles has the personnel to cycle through any number of pre-snap disguises and unconventional blitz packages. Green Bay has also rushed the passer extremely well so far and has an imposing defensive front with Kenny Clark and Jarran Reed on the interior and Rashan Gary and Preston Smith crashing off the edges.
The Buccaneers and Packers tied for the NFL's best regular-season record in 2021, at 13-4 each, but neither made it to their expected destination as both lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Bucs failed to defend their Super Bowl LV title – which came after a win in Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game – but did see Tom Brady come back for a third season at the helm, keeping them in full-on go-for-it mode. The Packers have actually finished with 13 wins in each of Matt LaFleur's three seasons as head coach, and they have also stayed together with their all-star quarterback, but they haven't won or even made it to a Super Bowl since the 2010 season.
So yes, Brady vs. Rogers is big. Enormous, actually. And it would surprise exactly no one if either or both produced yet another explosive offensive output on Sunday. But offensive numbers aren't the goal for either of these teams. Both are in Super Bowl-or-bust postures in 2022, and whoever gets this Sunday's win will have a very important notch in their belt in regards to that goal.
GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS
Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
Sunday, September 25, 4:25 p.m. ET
Raymond James Stadium (capacity: 65,828)
Television: FOX (Local WTVT Channel 13)
TV Broadcast Team: Kevin Burkhardt (play-by-play), Greg Olsen (analyst), Erin Andrews (reporter), Tom Rinaldi (reporter)
Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station
Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (reporter)
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ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES
The Buccaneers and Packers spent 25 seasons together in the "Black-and-Blue Division" – a.k.a. the NFC Central – before expansion and realignment created Tampa Bay's new home, the NFC South, in 2002. All of those years of home-and-away season series, plus additional matchups every few seasons since '02 have led to 55 previous meetings, in which the Packers hold a 32-22-1 all-time edge.
The most recent regular-season meeting went very well for the Buccaneers, as they rebounded from an early 10-0 deficit in Week Six of the 2020 season to score 38 unanswered points and win going away at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers sacked Aaron Rodgers four times and picked him off twice, and it was the only game that season in which Rodgers threw multiple interceptions and failed to record a touchdown pass. It was also the only game Green Bay lost by more than six points. Cornerback Jamel Dean started the Bucs' onslaught with a pick-six in the second quarter. Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and Ronald Jones ran for two more scores.
The Packers last three decades have been defined by an incredible run of elite quarterbacking, and the Buccaneers helped usher that era in. Since 1992, Green Bay has been able to run out Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers for a total of 448 regular-season starts, with only 22 games started by another quarterback. In Week Two of 1992, the Buccaneers beat the Packers, 31-3, and prompted Mike Holmgren to bench Don Majkowski for Favre at halftime. After one more Majkowski start in Week Three, the Packers turned to Favre and he then started 253 straight games. Aaron Rodgers succeeded Favre in 2008 and began his own incredible run.
As such, it was 25 years between the Majkowski start and the Bucs facing any Green Bay quarterback other than Favre and Rodgers. Brett Hundley started in place of an injured Favre in a Bucs-Packers game at Lambeau Field in 2017, helping the home team pull out a 26-20 lead. The Bucs win in the series in 2009 also featured a notable start by a quarterback, as it was the first one for then-rookie Josh Freeman after an 0-7 start by Tampa Bay. The Bucs pulled off a major upset over a playoff-bound Packers team, winning 38-28 in a game that included a blocked punt return for a touchdown by Ronde Barber and a pick-six by Tanard Jackson.
On their way to a Super Bowl championship in 2002, the Buccaneers faced the Packers despite moving out of the rebranded NFC North Division. Brian Kelly had two of Tampa Bay's four interceptions off Favre in a 21-7 decision at Raymond James Stadium. Another notable win for the Buccaneers came early in their 2005 division-winning campaign, as red-hot rookie Cadillac Williams ran for 158 yards. Two Joey Galloway touchdowns and two Will Allen picks helped the Bucs escape Lambeau Field with a 17-16 decision. The Bucs-Packers series also includes the only tie in Tampa Bay's franchise history, a 14-14 final in 1980 in which Green Bay actually rolled up 569 yards of offense.
The memorable turnaround the Bucs' franchise experienced in the '90s after a decade-and-a-half of futility began in 1997, but the Packers still won the Battle of the Bays three times that year, including the one that eliminated Tampa Bay from the playoffs. That was part of a six-game winning streak in the series for Green Bay, as Favre and the Packers became the hurdle the Buccaneers had to overcome in order to go from good to great. They finally did so with a 24-22 win in December of 1998 that included touchdown catches of 64 yards by Jacquez Green and 62 yards by Reidel Anthony. The Bucs and Packers didn't meet again in the postseason until 2020, when the visitors won the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett combined to sack Rodgers five times and Sean Murphy-Bunting picked him off shortly before halftime to set up Scotty Miller's memorable 39-yard touchdown catch.
· Packers Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia began his NFL coaching career in Tampa, joining Jon Gruden's first Buccaneer staff in 2002 in the same position. Bisaccia held that post for the entirety of Gruden's seven-year stint at the helm, then remained for two more seasons under Raheem Morris, adding the title of assistant head coach. Stints with the Chargers, Cowboys and Raiders followed, and Bisaccia spent the last 12 games of his Las Vegas tenure as the interim head coach after Gruden was dismissed. Bisaccia's Raiders went 7-5 and earned a wild card berth in last year's playoffs. Bisaccia joined the Packers staff this offseason after Las Vegas hired Josh McDaniels as their new head coach.
· Bisaccia has two assistants working with him, Assistant Special Teams Coach Byron Storer and Special Teams Quality Control Coach Micheal Spurlock, and both are former Tampa Bay players. Storer played 15 games with six starts over the 2007-08 seasons and Spurlock had two stints in Tampa, first in 2007 and then again in 2010-11. During his first season with the team, Spurlock became the first player in franchise history to return a kickoff for a touchdown. Storer was also the Bucs' assistant special teams coach in 2010-11.
· Green Bay's defensive coordinator, Joe Barry, is also a former Buccaneers staffer. Barry joined Tony Dungy's staff in 2001 as the linebackers coach and stayed on with Gruden's staff through the 2006 season before following Rod Marinelli to Detroit to become the Lions' defensive coordinator. Barry had a second stint as the Buccaneers' linebackers coach under Raheem Morris in 2009.
· Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles worked as a college scouting assistant for the Packers in 1995 and 1996.
· Green Bay Defensive Backs Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Jerry Gray played nine seasons in the league as a defensive back, the last one with Tampa Bay in 1993.
· Green Bay's Vice President of Communications Jason Wahlers was a member of the Buccaneers' public relations staff for nine years (2002-10) before joining the Packers in 2011.
SENIOR COACHING STAFFS
- Head Coach Todd Bowles
- Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin
- Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich
- Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers
- Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foot
- ·Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong
- Head Coach Matt LaFleur
- Offensive Coordinator Adam Stenavich
- Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
- Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia
KEY 2022 ROSTER ADDITIONS
- WR Cole Beasley (FA…currently on practice squad)
- P Jake Camarda (fourth-round draft pick)
- WR Russell Gage (UFA)
- G Luke Goedeke (second-round draft pick)
- DL Logan Hall (second-round draft pick)
- T Fred Johnson (FA)
- WR Julio Jones (FA)
- TE Ko Kieft (sixth-round draft pick)
- G Shaq Mason (trade–NE)
- CB Zyon McCollum (fifth-round draft pick)
- OLB Carl Nassib (FA)
- S Keanu Neal (UFA)
- TE Cade Otton (fourth-round draft pick)
- TE Kyle Rudolph (FA)
- S Logan Ryan (FA)
- DL Deadrin Senat
- RB Rachaad White (third-round draft pick)
- Kingsley Enagbare (5th-round draft pick)
- WR Romeo Doubs (4th-round draft pick)
- S Dallin Leavitt (FA)
- CB Keisean Nixon (FA)
- P Pat O'Donnell (UFA)
- DE Jarran Reed (UFA)
- T/G Sean Rhyan (3rd-round draft pick)
- C Zach Tom (4th-round draft pick)
- LB Quay Walker (1st-round draft pick)
- WR Sammy Watkins (UFA)
- WR Christian Watson (2nd-round draft pick)
- DT Devonte Wyatt (1st-round draft pick)
- ADDITIONAL 2022 CHANGES OF NOTE
· While the Bucs continue to maintain enviable continuity on their coaching staff, there is a new person in the corner office. In March, Bruce Arians stepped down after three years as the head coach and took on a new role as a senior advisor to the general manager. Todd Bowles was promoted from defensive coordinator to take his place. Bowles previously served as the New York Jets' head coach from 2015-18 before rejoining Arians when the latter came on as the Buccaneers' head coach in 2019.
· With Bowles stepping up the Bucs needed a new defensive coordinator and they essentially named two of them. Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers added the title of Run Game Coordinator while Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote switched to inside linebackers and added the title of Pass Game Coordinator. They are in effect co-defensive coordinators. Bob Sanders joined the staff to take over for Foote in the outside linebackers room. Foote made his switch after Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell landed the defensive coordinator position in Jacksonville under new Head Coach Doug Pederson.
· The Buccaneers had two key players retire after the 2021 season, but only one of them stayed retired. While quarterback Tom Brady eventually elected to return 40 days after announcing he was stepping away from the game, his long-time buddy Rob Gronkowski walked away for good, leading to big changes in the Bucs' tight end room. While veteran Cam Brate returned, O.J. Howard left in free agency and the Buccaneers subsequently drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft and signed veteran Kyle Rudolph.
· Tampa Bay's defense also saw the departure of two front-seven stalwarts from the extremely successful 2020-21 seasons, as neither DL Ndamukong Suh nor OLB Jason Pierre-Paul was re-signed. The team signed veteran standout Akiem Hicks and drafted Houston's Logan Hall 33rd overall to address depth up front and are relying on 2021 first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to step up on the edge.
· The Packers struggled in many facets of special teams throughout the 2022 season, culminating in the blocked punt and touchdown return that essentially lost them the NFC Divisional Round Game to San Francisco. Enter Rich Bisaccia. As noted in the Connections section above, Bisaccia got his NFL start in Tampa in the 2000s but most recently served as the Raiders' interim head coach after the midseason firing of Jon Gruden. In between, Bisaccia built a well-deserved reputation as one of the NFL's top special teams gurus, which is exactly what the Packers needed. They hired him in February to replace former Special Teams Coordinator Maurice Drayton. The Packers also brought on two former Buccaneers, Byron Storer and Micheal Spurlock, to work as assistants to Bisaccia.
· With Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett landing the head coaching job in Denver and Quarterbacks Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Luke Getsy following him to be the Broncos' offensive coordinator, the Packers needed new leadership on offense. Adam Stenavich, who first joined the Packers' staff in 2019, was promoted to OC from offensive line/run game coordinator. To coach the quarterbacks, the Packers lured Tom Clements out of a one-year retirement; he had been on the Packers' staff from 2006-2016, including the first six seasons as the quarterbacks coach.
· Green Bay pulled off a blockbuster trade during the offseason sending All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams to the Raiders in exchange for first and second-round picks in this year's draft. Adams had been the unquestioned focal point of the Packers' passing attack over the previous six years, averaging 142 targets per season in that span. Green Bay used the second-round pick it got from the Raiders to move up to the 34th overall selection and draft North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson.
Offensive Evolutions by the Bays – The Packers started the season without both of their usual offensive tackles, David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, and had a reworked receiver room after the departures of Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. It remains to be seen if the likes of veteran addition Sammy Watkins and rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs can support a high-powered passing attack, but so far the Packers rank 20th in passing yards per game and Aaron Rodgers has just two touchdown passes. Similarly, the Buccaneers have a completely new interior offensive line and are now dealing with injuries to left tackle Donovan Smith and the majority of their receiving corps. Tampa Bay is three spots behind Green Bay in the passing rankings and Brady also has just two touchdown passes so far. At this point last year, Brady had already thrown nine scoring tosses and Rodgers had four. Meanwhile, Green Bay's two-headed rushing attack of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon has been very effective – the Packers are sixth in rushing yards per game and third in yards per carry – and those two backs are also tied for the team lead with six catches each. The Bucs rushing attack ranks 13th, which is far better than it has been Brady's first two seasons. Tampa Bay has protected Brady better than the Packers have protected Rodgers, but Green Bay has been significantly better than the Bucs on third downs. It's too early in the season to draw sweeping conclusions, but it's possible that the Bucs and Packers will be using the rushing/defense formula to get more of their victories than in the past.
A Backfield Invasion? – As noted above, due in part to some notable injuries the Packers have had some struggles keeping Rodgers upright, with the fifth worst sack rate allowed so far (10.94%). Jenkins returned to action last week and Bakhtiari may not be far behind, but the Green Bay front will still be challenged by a Buccaneer defense that has produced a league-high 10 sacks so far. Shaquil Barrett has 11 pressures already and Devin White leads the Bucs with three sacks but a total of seven different players have gotten in on the sack party already. Blitzing Aaron Rodgers is a high-risk, high-reward strategy because Rodgers processes so quickly that he can often find the weaknesses created by bringing extra rushers and exploit them immediately. Of course, Todd Bowles' creative "blitzes" sometimes aren't actually blitzes, with only four defenders coming after the quarterback but from unexpected directions and positions. On the flip side, Rodgers can slow down any team's rush by getting rid of the ball very quickly. Last year, he had 19 touchdowns and no interceptions on "quick passes" (released less than 2.5 seconds after the snap, and in that subset of throws he got the ball off in an average of 1.84 seconds. Whether he can remain so effective in that regard with his new cast of targets is an interesting question, but the Bucs' efforts to get to Rodgers and his counterefforts to avoid that should be a cat-and-mouse game all afternoon.
Ready for Some Home Cooking – For the first time in team history, the Buccaneers have started a season with two road wins in the first two weeks of a season, and they are the only team in the league that has already banked two victories away from home. That's nice. In fact, dating back to last season, the Buccaneers have won a team-record six straight regular-season road games. That's pretty sweet, too. But the road gets old and the Buccaneers haven't played a game in their home stadium since August 13. Tampa Bay prevailed in huge, raucous and packed-to-the-rafters domes in Dallas and New Orleans but will now have a sold out crowd on their side, finally. The Buccaneers were very good at home in 2021, winning seven of their eight games, including the first six. And the last time that Green Bay visited Raymond James Stadium, during the 2020 regular season, the home team threw up 38 unanswered points in a 38-10 blowout. The Buccaneers now start a run of three straight games in Tampa and it's chance for them to exert a home field advantage and stay atop the standings.
The Quest for 3-0 – The Buccaneers' fast start has them among a small group of 2-0 teams, with only five other clubs – the Giants, Eagles, Dolphins, Bills and Chiefs – also undefeated. That ties the 2012 season for the fewest 2-0 teams after two weeks since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002. This is the second season in a row that the Bucs are off to a 2-0 start, but last year's squad couldn't get to 3-0, losing to the Rams in Los Angeles in Week Three. In fact, the last time the Buccaneers started a season 3-0 was all the way back in 2005, a campaign that ended in a division title. Tampa Bay has only been perfect after three games four times – 2005, 2000, 1997 and 1979 – and all of those seasons produced playoff berth. That's a correlation not specific to the Buccaneers; since 1990, 160 teams in the league have started a season 3-0 and 74.4% of them (119) made the playoffs, 51.9% (83) won their divisions and 10% (16) won the Super Bowl. When you study the 2-1 teams, those numbers fall to 54.2% for the playoffs, 31.4% for the division title and 3.6% for the Super Bowl. Win or lose, the Buccaneers have a long way to go for a playoff berth, but history suggests they'll be in a good spot if they can get to 3-0.
Who Can Kick and Cover Best? – The Buccaneers were low in the rankings in several special teams categories last season, while the Packers were downright disastrous in that area. It was a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by San Francisco that cost Green Bay a trip to the NFC Championship Game last January. The Buccaneers have since added a new punter in rookie Jake Camarda and have several young players making new contributions to the kick and cover game. The Packers were serious enough about fixing their long-standing issues in the third phase to bring in special teams guru Rich Bisaccia as their new coordinator. Early results have been promising for both teams. Jaelon Darden has been solid on punt returns and the Bucs rank 11th in that category, while Ryan Succop has made five of his first six field goal attempts. The most improved aspect of special teams for the Bucs so far has been punt coverage, where they rank first in the NFL. Green Bay ranks near the middle in most special teams categories so far, which is a significant improvement. If defenses dominate on Sunday and the game is close, it could be a special teams play here or there that swings the tide.
1. Buccaneers C Robert Hainsey vs. Packers NT Kenny Clark
After Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen went down with a knee injury on the second day of the Buccaneers' training camp, a significant amount of hand-wringing took place over the thought of Tom Brady being subject to more up-the-middle pressure than is to his liking. Those who had this concern were thinking specifically about players like Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark, who is one of the league's best at applying that quick pressure up the gut. Last season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, Clark was responsible for 37 pressures up the middle, tied for eighth among league linemen. The 6-3, 314-pound mauler is off to a quick start this year, too, with five pressures in the Packers' season-opening loss in Minnesota. Clark's pressure rate on pass-rush snaps of 19.4% through two games is fifth among all defenders so far and second among interior linemen. Inside Buccaneers headquarters, there was less concern about the strength of the team's interior line because the Buccaneers had confidence in second-year man Robert Hainsey. So far, that confidence has been rewarded as Tampa Bay's line has allowed only three sacks through two games. Two of those sacks were off the left edge by Dallas star Micah Parsons in Week One and the third, in New Orleans, came on a long-developing play on which Brady tried to scramble. Hainsey has more than held his own so far, but he will draw a stiff challenge this Sunday.
2. Packers T Elgton Jenkins vs. Buccaneers OLB Shaquil Barrett
A second-round draft pick in 2019, Jenkins has been an incredible find for the Packers, lining up at virtually every spot on the line and thriving at all of them at some point over the past four seasons. Jenkins missed roughly half of the 2021 campaign due to a torn ACL and wasn't quite ready to return in Week One but he played every snap in Sunday night's win over the Bears at right tackle. That was very encouraging to the Packers, even if he wasn't quite as dominant as usual, allowing three pressures and a sack. In his last full season in 2020, Jenkins allowed only one sack on 733 pass-blocking snaps despite playing four different positions. He has a very long wingspan that allows him to keep pass-rushers at bay and displays impressive athleticism and foot quickness. Shaquil Barrett already has 11 QB pressures through two games and got his first two sacks of the season, plus a forced fumble, in the Bucs' win in New Orleans. He is rushing primarily from the left side of the Bucs' front line and thus will be trying to work his way past Jenkins for much of the afternoon. Since arriving in Tampa and assuming a full-time role for the first time in his career, Barrett has proved to be one of the league's most productive pass-rushers season after season and he has looked as dangerous as ever so far in 2022.
3. Buccaneers WR Breshad Perriman vs. Packers CB Jaire Alexander
The Buccaneers surprised many during the leaguewide final cuts to 53 when they kept seven receivers instead of choosing between Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden and Breshad Perriman. Before they could even blink, the Bucs absolutely needed all that depth. Mike Evans is suspending for this weekend's game and neither Chris Godwin nor Julio Jones were on the practice field to start the week. Perriman's presence has quickly become more important, and he showed the impact he could make by catching the 28-yard touchdown pass that broke a 3-3 fourth-quarter tie in New Orleans. Perriman is a big target who knows the responsibilities of all the different receiver spots and executes them well. Jaire Alexander was hit hard by injuries last year, limiting him to four games, but remains one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks. After taking virtually all of his snaps at left cornerback in 2021, Alexander has switched this year and has exclusively played right corner. That means he'll be an obstacle in Perriman's path when the receiver lines up to the left of the Bucs' offensive formation. Alexander is sticky in coverage and since the start of the 2020 season has allowed just 4.7 yards per target, the best of any defensive back with at least 75 targets in that span.
4. Packers RB Aaron Jones vs. Buccaneers ILB Lavonte David
Aaron Jones is Aaron Rodgers' best weapon at this point, as he has rushed for 181 yards with an eye-popping average of 9.1 yards per carry, and has scored half of the team's four touchdowns. Jones is also tied for the team lead in receptions, with six, and his 65 receiving yards are second only to Sammy Watkins' 111. Jones is a complete three-down back with shifty moves and the speed to go the distance when he pops into the open field. Jones has a career average of 5.2 yards per carry and has also averaged nearly three receptions per career over his five-plus seasons. With the Packers' receiving corps still a work in progress, Jones figures to remain the focal point of the offense for the foreseeable future. Lavonte David, along with fellow inside linebacker Devin White, is the Bucs' main defense against star running backs like Jones, with the men up front looking to tie up blockers so those two 'backers can roam free. Not only is David a sideline-to-sideline rover and a very sure tackler, but he has also proved to be one of the NFL's bets coverage linebackers, which will be important against Jones. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, David has allowed just 3.4 yards per reception as the nearest defender since the start of the 2019 season, which is second best among all NFL linebackers with at least 100 targets in that span.
DNP: Did not participate in practice
LP: Limited participation in practice
FP: Full participation in practice
NL: Not listed
· QB Tom Brady (right finger) – WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· ILB Lavonte David (rest) – WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
· CB Carlton Davis (hip) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
· WR Russell Gage (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Questionable
· WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
· C Robert Hainsey (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· DL Akiem Hicks (foot) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
· WR Julio Jones (knee) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
· CB Zyon McCollum (hamstring) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR Scotty Miller (calf) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· TE Cade Otton (personal) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Doubtful.
· WR Breshad Perriman (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
· T Donovan Smith (elbow) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Doubtful.
· T David Bakhtiari (knee) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
· DL Kenny Clark (groin) – WEDS: NL; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR Randall Cobb (illness) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.
· K Mason Crosby (illness) – WEDS: NL; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
· G/T Elgton Jenkins (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR Allen Lazard (ankle) – WEDS: LP; THURS: DNP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· TE Marcedes Lewis (groin) – WEDS: LP; THURS: DNP; FRI: Game Status: Questionable.
· WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
· WR Christian Watson (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.
Cloudy in the afternoon, high of 88, low of 73, 19% chance of rain, 68% humidity, winds out of the ENE at 8 mph.
Head referee: Scott Novak (9th season, 4th as referee)
· Favorite: Buccaneers (-2.0)
· Over/Under: 42.0
INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 21
Touchdowns: S Mike Edwards/WR Mike Evans/WR Breshad Perriman, 1
Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 402
Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 82.8
Rushing Yards: RB Leonard Fournette, 192
Receptions: WR Mike Evans, 8
Receiving Yards: WR Mike Evans, 132
Interceptions: CB Jamel Dean, 2
Sacks: ILB Devin White, 3.0
Tackles: LB Devin White, 19
Points Scored: RB Aaron Jones, 12
Touchdowns: RB Aaron Jones, 2
Passing Yards: QB Aaron Rodgers, 429
Passer Rating: QB Aaron Rodgers, 94.5
Rushing Yards: RB Aaron Jones, 181
Receptions: RB A.J. Dillon/WR Romeo Doubs/RB Aaron Jones/WR Sammy Watkins, 6
Receiving Yards: WR Sammy Watkins, 111
Interceptions: CB Jaire Alexander, 13
Sacks: LB Preston Smith, 2.0
Tackles: LB De'Vondre Campbell, 15
TEAM STAT RANKINGS
Scoring Offense: 18th (19.5 ppg)
Total Offense: 24th (303.5 ypg)
Passing Offense: 23rd (191.5 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 13th (112.0 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: t-28th (15.5)
Third-Down Pct.: 22nd (32.3%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 12th (4.92%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 22nd (32.3%)
Scoring Defense: 1st (6.5 ppg)
Total Defense: 5th (276.0 ypg)
Passing Defense: 8th (189.5 ypg)
Rushing Defense: t-9th (86.5 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-2nd (15.0)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: t-2nd (25.0%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 3rd (12.20%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: t-11th (50.0%)
Turnover Margin: t-2nd (+4)
Scoring Offense: 23rd (17.0 ppg)
Total Offense: 11th (376.0 ypg)
Passing Offense: 20th (219.0 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 6th (157.0 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: t-5th (23.5)
Third-Down Pct.: t-11th (44.4%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 28th (10.94%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: t-19th (50.0%)
Scoring Defense: 7th (16.5 ppg)
Total Defense: 10th (311.5 ypg)
Passing Defense: 4th (158.5 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 27th (153.0 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-2nd (15.0)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: t-2nd (25.0%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 8th (9.30%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: t-7th (40.0%)
Turnover Margin: t-22nd (-2)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
· Tight End Cameron Brate enters his ninth NFL season with 33 career touchdown catches. His next one will tie him with Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles for second place in franchise history in receiving TDs and fourth place in overall touchdowns.
· Wide receiver Mike Evans already owns Tampa Bay's career touchdown mark and virtually every career receiving record, but now he's closing in on the top spot in another category: yards from scrimmage. Former running back James Wilder has long held that record with 9,449 but Evans is now up to 9,443. That means Evans needs just seven more yards from scrimmage to take that record from Wilder.
· Evans is also close to moving up another all-time Buccaneer chart, this one for points scored. His touchdown in Dallas in Week One increased his career points total to 470, meaning he needs only eight more to pass kicker Connor Barth (477) for third place on that list.
· Wide receiver Chris Godwin has 29 touchdown catches on his resume. Two more would move him into a tie with Kevin House for the fourth-most in team history.
· Head Coach Todd Bowles on preparing for Packers running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon: "They both can do everything. Obviously, Aaron is faster – he plays wideout, he plays running back, he moves inside, he moves outside, he plays the slot – he does a lot of things great. He's very explosive when he catches the ball and when he runs the ball, he can break it and he can turn a four-yard gain into a 60-yard gain. AJ is just tough to bring down. He's tough – not only is he tough, he has very good feet. He can catch the football as well. Those two, along with Aaron [Rodgers] and the rest of the guys – it's going to be a tough draw."
· Running back Leonard Fournette on how excited he is to be back home at Raymond James Stadium: "I'm very excited. Our last game in there against the Rams, we lost. So, it's kind of like – I feel like I want to get out there and get it out of my memory, things like that. Just coming back home, you know, it's going to be exciting. The fans out there, you know, [I] can't wait to see the crowd, things like that."
· Wide receiver Cole Beasley on if Tom Brady recruited him to come to the Buccaneers: "I'm going to be honest, I was hitting him up a lot. I think a lot of guys got banged up a little bit here, so they gave me an opportunity to come in here and do some work. I don't know what my role is going to be at this moment, but I'm just coming in humble and ready to be a part of it."
· Bowles on why the Bucs' pass rush is working so well: "I think they're sacrificing for each other. Again, it's more [about] the pressure than the sacks – trying to get incompletions – the sacks are great but we're trying to get incompletions and pressures and turnovers. Turnovers [are] the name of the game. I think they do a good job of helping one another and sacrificing for one another when somebody has to blitz or run a game."
· Quarterback Tom Brady on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: "For sure, he's an amazing player, has been for a long time. I love watching him play, and he's from California too so I always feel like we have a little bit of a connection. He's an older guy now. He's been a great player in the same place for a long time. There definitely are some challenges with that but he's navigated them pretty well and has done a great job, leads the team. They've won a lot of games since he's been there. And I knew Brett [Favre] pretty well; with those two guys they're two pretty great quarterbacks for a long period of time in one place."
· Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich on why the team struggled in Week Two on short third and fourth downs: "For sure, he's an amazing player, has been for a long time. I love watching him play, and he's from California too so I always feel like we have a little bit of a connection. He's an older guy now. He's been a great player in the same place for a long time. There definitely are some challenges with that but he's navigated them pretty well and has done a great job, leads the team. They've won a lot of games since he's been there. And I knew Brett [Favre] pretty well; with those two guys they're two pretty great quarterbacks for a long period of time in one place."