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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Bucs to Watch Against the Eagles in Week 3

The Buccaneers will face the Eagles in Week Three and here are five players to watch

Shaq 5 BUcs to Watch_

On Monday, a prime-stage spotlight provides the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with an opportunity to prove their fortitude against an imposing Eagles team. The Bucs will host the defending NFC Champions in front of a national audience on September 25. Kickoff is slated for 7:15 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium and pits two undefeated teams against one another. Both will vie to continue the streak on the prime-time stage. There are several matchups and individual performances that could weigh heavily on the outcome of the Bucs-Eagles clash in Week 3. Here is an in-depth look at five Buccaneers to observe on Monday night. 

Shaquil Barrett 

On Monday night, a battle of two stalwarts will commence at the line of scrimmage as Eagles' right tackle Lane Johnson will face Bucs' sack machine Shaquil Barrett. Lane Johnson is deemed one of the best tackles in football, having achieved both consistency and longevity during his 10-year tenure. Johnson possesses elite athleticism and can quickly change directions to pick up free runners. With quickness off the snap, Johnson has the ability to nearly instantaneously get upfield, driving defenders back. Johnson has not surrendered a sack since Week 11 of the 2020 season – setting the record for most consecutive games (26) without allowing a sack. 

 "He has been so consistent and so dominant in pass protection," Bucs' left tackle Tristan Wirfs described. "My rookie year, I tried to watch him and to see the stuff that he did. His set is so crazy. He gets off the ball so vertical. It is just nuts. I set very differently than he does but how consistent he is and how consistent he has been for so long, is huge and it sets him apart. He is an incredible player and I have looked up to him for a long time." 

Shaquil Barrett, a tone-setter in the Bucs' defensive front, has made an inspirational return to the gridiron in 2023. After last year's Achilles tendon tear and then, much more significantly, the tragic loss of his daughter Arrayah Sue Barrett in the spring, Barrett is back on the field competing at peak form. He had a critical sack and one-handed pick-six against the Bears, putting a stamp on his return. On the pick-six, Barrett initially stunted inside. Subsequently, he dissected the play and read Fields' eyes. Barrett then dropped back in coverage to disrupt the passing window and snagged a one-handed catch to ice the victory over Chicago. His teammates then rallied behind, pushing Barrett into the end zone. With instinctual play and an explosive first step, Barrett bolsters Tampa Bay's front. 

Cade Otton 

Eagles' starting nickel corner Avonte Maddox was placed on Injured Reserve, potentially creating opportunities for Cade Otton to exploit over the middle of the field. Mario Goodrich is viewed as the early favorite to start against the Buccaneers. Goodrich played 35 snaps against the Vikings and posted four tackles. He allowed six completions for 60 yards and a 147.9 passer rating per PFF against Minnesota. Goodrich did help keep Ty Chandler and Alexander Mattison in check, rallying to the ball. Cade Otton, an underneath threat, is adept at racking up contested catches to move the chains. He is a zone-buster and a safety valve for Baker Mayfield. Otton can put coverage on notice at all three levels and has an instinctive feel for when to change the tempo inside his route to keep defensive backs/linebackers at bay. Otton has accumulated eight receptions for 60 yards through two games in 2023, and Monday could be a breakout game for the second-year tight end. 

Devin White  

Dallas Goedert is another viable weapon in the Eagles' passing attack for Jalen Hurts, despite his stat line to start the 2023 slate. Goedert has accumulated six catches for 22 yards through two games but is a dynamic chess piece that consistently generates separation on short-to-intermediate routes. In 2022, Goedert amassed 55 receptions for 702 yards and three touchdowns (missed five games) and posted 16 catches for 141 yards and one score in the club's playoff run. Goedert led all NFL tight ends in 2022 with +5.7 receptions over expected and +151 yards over expected, per Next Gen Stats. He is efficient at adjusting mid-air and utilizes his frame to create favorable positioning. Devin White, along with Lavonte David, will be tasked with limiting Goedert after the catch. Zone drops became an emphasis for White throughout the offseason and White routinely became matched up with running back Rachaad White or Cade Otton in practice. He possesses the ability to sink and drive for effective change-of-direction in coverage. White's pursuit speed will come into play on Monday night, working to erase plays over the middle and out of the flat. Tampa Bay's defense gave up a combined 12 receptions to the Vikings' and Bears' top tight ends, T.J. Hockenson and Cole Kmet, but those playmakers only totaled 73 yards. White is a textbook tackler in the open field and his burst will be at the forefront of boosting the Bucs' defensive unit in Week Three. 

Tristan Wirfs 

The line of scrimmage will carry significant weight on the outcome of Monday's matchup and the clash between Bucs' left tackle Tristan Wirfs and Eagles' power rusher Haason Reddick will be one to keep an eye on. Reddick is one of the best in the NFL at getting from point A to point B, and he does not just win off the high side. Reddick is lethal off inside stunts/twists, as well. On a two-way-go, tackles are often overwhelmed. With rare burst to close, Reddick sets himself apart. He has outstanding change-of-direction agility and is always working his feet to improve leverage. Reddick finished fourth in DPOY voting and he cannot be left on an island with a tight end chip. However, Reddick also has the challenge of facing one of the top-tier tackles in the league with Wirfs. The Iowa product underwent the transition from right to left tackle during the summer. Wirfs plays with great balance and sound technique. He can absorb rushers, redirect their power to shield the quarterback in the pocket and Wirfs has the strength to push opponents off his frame, utilizing a well-timed punch to gain leverage. 

Vita Vea 

Vita Vea, the anchor of the Bucs' defensive line, accumulated 1.5 sacks in Week Two against Justin Fields. Through the first two games of the 2023 slate, the imposing nose tackle has consistently found his way into the backfield, collapsing the pocket. For an interior defensive lineman, he is primarily regarded as a key cog in eating up blocks, but Vea is able to achieve interior penetration on a regular basis. Vea overwhelms at the point of attack and bullies double teams. On Monday, Vea will likely be matched up with Eagles' center Jason Kelce during the showdown in certain instances. In 2022, Kelce allowed just 11 hurries across 753 pass-blocking snaps, including the playoffs. The six-time Pro Bowl veteran is the backbone of the Eagles' rushing attack, with his movement skills and savviness as a run blocker. With sound technique, he provides stability for Philadelphia.

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