Sunday is almost upon us. The gates will open again at Raymond James Stadium. A new head coach has taken the helm. New faces...New talent...New leadership has come to Tampa Bay to lead the Buccaneers
into the 2014 season. It's time to get you ready for the battle on the field versus the Carolina Panthers. The question is.....How will the Buccaneers do it?
That's where I come in. Hello Bucs fans. My name is Anthony Becht, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and 12 year NFL tight end. I'll be your eyes and ears each and every week with my "Keys to the Game". I'll be giving you my expert analysis on every team the Buccaneers play for the 2014 season.
First up - the Carolina Panthers, a divisional opponent and bitter rival to the Buccaneers. Lets get started:
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. UNLEASH THE DOUGERNAUT: If there's one thing I know was true in the preseason, it was Doug Martin. In his limited play, he's been running ANGRY. Each and every time he's touched the ball, I can see the passion and burst in every step. There's one way to gain confidence and cohesion with your offensive line - run the football. Martin is the key to this new Buccaneer offense. Every four-yard gain, every pile that he moves will trickle down to the rest of our offense and provide the kickstart our QB needs to exploit the Panthers well-respected defense.
2. DISTRIBUTE THE FOOTBALL: Josh McCown comes into this season reborn after leading the Chicago Bears last year when Jay Cutler got hurt. He parlayed that into a two-year contract with his old ball coach Lovie Smith. Coach has stuck his neck out and provided us assurance that Josh can get it done. Well what exactly is "get it done?" Let me explain what that is. Josh is a pro. He's patiently paved a career to lead him to this moment. Now, as a first time season starter, there's only one way for him to shine. Be a FACILITATOR with the football. We don't need Tom Brady or Peyton Manning stats. We need a smart quarterback that doesn't make mistakes and can deliver the football to three targets that are all at least 6'5. His stats will not dictate how the Bucs will be. The information that he's gathered over his 12-year journey to get to this point will.
3. FIND ME SOME CAM NEWTON: Cam Newton might be one of the finest athletic quarterbacks in the NFL. His ability to throw and run give him a deadly combination to deal with on Sundays. There's one problem with Newton. He's got bruised ribs. QB's that play like Cam will sometimes do some protective playing when they have sore ribs. Enter Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David. Not sure if I've been more excited to see a better one-two punch since Sapp and Brooks. McCoy has dominated his opponents each and every snap during the preseason.
It's been a while since we've seen a defensive tackle take over a game like him. Lavonte David has taken the league by storm. He's been quiet during the preseason, but I can't remember a game last year we didn't mention his name. There's not a linebacker in the league that can match the versatility of David. Carolina Panthers have a rookie right guard and an unproven right tackle. GOOD LUCK.
Get to know the key players on the Panthers before the Bucs face off with Carolina on Sunday.
4. TURNOVER TRAIN: If there's one thing I believe this defense will thrive on, it's creating turnovers. Cam Newton is dinged up in the ribs. When that pressure comes he's going to want to protect himself. That's going to cause his throws to be short armed or sail. I expect two turnovers this game, which sets up a short field for McCown and company.
5. ROOKIES-A-BLAZIN: Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins need to be thrown in the fire early. McCown needs to feed the ball to these young guys early and often. ASJ is the key to making this passing game flow. It's been a long time since the Buccaneers have had a target in the middle. He's going to open up the flood gates to single coverage on the outside. That's when Jackson and Evans will shine. They're gonna make rookie mistakes. But be patient Bucs fans. These young men are going to be special.
Bucs protect their house and Lovie Smith kicks off his new Buccaneer era with his first win.
Buccaneers 23 - Carolina 17