1) QB Ryan Fitzpatrick* It wouldn't be a 'who to watch' list against the Jets without quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who spent the last two seasons as the Jets' signal caller. His familiarity with Todd Bowles' defense is certainly a plus, but probably canceled out in their familiarity with him, by Fitzpatrick's own words. He called the matchup between Jets' quarterback Josh McCown and him 'ironic' given that McCown was once on the Bucs' roster. Plus, the similarities between the two are staggering, as is the fact that between the two of them, they have played for nearly half the teams in the league (15 in all). With Fitzpatrick making his first start as a Buccaneer, look for the veteran to call upon all those years of experience and fit in right away.2) C Ali Marpet For the Bucs' offensive line to be effective this game, communication will be key. The Jets defense will force the line, and especially newly minted center Ali Marpet, to ID their sub-packages and front variations every play. Their defense may play a 3-4 as far as personnel goes, but as Coach Koetter said in his press conference on Thursday, very rarely are they ever in a true odd front. Marpet talked this week about improving his communication skills, and with a new quarterback starting under center, it will be interesting to watch how those two especially gel throughout the game. The good news is, Fitzpatrick is a major asset in this scenario, not only because he's a seasoned veteran, but because he spent the last two seasons on the Jets' roster, affording him familiarity with New York's distinctive defense.*
A look back at all of the match-ups between the Buccaneers and the Jets.
3) WR Chris Godwin**
With the Bucs' number one receiver, Mike Evans, out for this Sunday's game, it will be up to the promising young rookie to fill in. He had a great preseason, averaging 14.3 yards per catch on seven receptions, for a total of 100 yards. Given Tampa Bay's offensive arsenal, he's seen limited action in the regular season, but has averaged 10.4 yards per catch when given the chance. Hopefully, Godwin will be able to exploit the Jets' secondary with their primary focus on wide receiver DeSean Jackson, not to mention the fact that limited action for the rookie means limited looks for the opposing defense.4) The Bucs' Cornerbacks
Cornerback Brent Grimes was back in full capacity during Thursday's practice, after being sidelined with a shoulder injury. With cornerback Robert McClain back from concussion protocol last week as well, the Bucs' secondary is looking whole again. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith also talked about cornerback Vernon Hargreaves having his best two games the last two weeks, one where he played outside because of injuries to McClain and Grimes, and one where he was able to switch back inside at nickel, where he has seen some success as of late. The fact that Hargreaves seems to have an understanding of both scenarios allows the unit flexibility by Smith's account. They'll try to limit the Jets' passing attack, including a young wide receiver by the name of Robby Anderson, who Coach Koetter and the rest of the coaching staff have identified as a 'game-wrecker' despite his lack of notoriety.5) RB Peyton Barber
Running back Peyton Barber seemed to get a few more opportunities last Sunday in the game in New Orleans. Getting Barber more involved has been a goal of the rushing offense, according to Coach Koetter, but just came to fruition it seemed last week. Barber is great at gaining yards after contact, fighting and clawing his way to a 3.6 yard-per-carry average. Barber had a nice little nine-yard scoot against the Saints, which aided in a drive that resulted in the Bucs' first points of the game on a Patrick Murray 50-yard field goal. Between Barber and running back Doug Martin, the Bucs will look to establish a ground game in order to function as a complete offense with Fitzpatrick now at the helm.