Week 4 has quickly crept upon us in the NFL. It marks what coaches and players like to call the final game of the first quarter of the season. The Buccaneers have struggled in all phases of the game headed into the matchup vs the Pittsburgh Steelers. The eye in the sky never lies and no matter what the score says week to week, everything the Bucs are struggling with is 100% correctable. This week the players can control several things: hard work, effort, and preparation. When Sunday arrives and the team takes the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the key word must be "EXECUTE."
Here are a few keys for the Buccaneers to have success vs the Steelers:
1) DON'T GIVE IT AWAY
It's seems to be a constant theme for this Bucs team early in the season. Turnovers have plagued this teams ability to move the football on offense. The quarterback and skilled position players on this football team must come out of this game with zero turnovers. In a league where the difference between winning and losing is a matter of 2 or 3 plays. Protecting the football at all costs must be a priority.
2) FINISH DRIVES
Offensively, the Bucs need to put a few seven to ten play scoring drives together vs the Steelers. Having confidence as an offense is a premium. Great balance in the run and the pass and converting third downs to move the chains on the road can take the wind out of the home team. Being sharp on the first drive of the game on the road and scoring a TD or FG can get you in rhythm early on and lead to a productive day.
3) EXPLOSIVE PLAYS
The top offenses in the NFL rely on their skilled players to make big plays in the running and passing game. Explosive plays are runs of 15 yards or more and passes of 25 yards or more. In three games the Bucs have only 6 explosive plays. This offense has big play ability with receivers and running backs who can create more of these plays. If the Bucs can move the chains and get more plays, those opportunities will be there.
4) TACKLE THE TWO HEADED MONSTER
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and 2nd yr RB Le'veon Bell are off to tremendous starts. Bell is second in the NFL in rushing and has supplied the ground and pound of the early Steeler days. The added running game has given the Steelers a more balanced attack on offense. Big Ben thrives at the QB position w/ a solid running game. The key for stopping both of these players is TACKLE them. Bell is a big athletic back that rarely goes down on the first hit. He must me wrapped up and the calvary needs to swarm to the football. Roethlisberger is the master of extending plays. The Bucs must hit the QB hard and often to keep him off his game. Pass rushers must keep their lane integrity on the pass rush and be ready to make a play when BIg Ben tries to get out of the pocket.
Folks it's very simple. The Buccaneers have the talent to beat the Steelers on the road. The question is "will they execute?" The fundamentals of football haven't changed. The team that protects the football usually wins. The Bucs need to put forth their best ball and win ALL 3 phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. When teams suffer losses like the Bucs did last week vs the Falcons, their pride and fight usually spills out the next week. Let's see what these Buccaneers spill out on the field Sunday as they try for their first win of the season.
Get to know the key players on the Steelers before the Bucs face off with Pittsburgh on Sunday.