Having completed what might prove to be the toughest stretch on their 2021 schedule, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get to return home in Week Five for a rare 1:00 p.m. kickoff against the 1-3 Miami Dolphins.
Weeks Three and Four featured consecutive road games, the first a cross-country trip to play one of the top NFC contenders in the Los Angeles Rams. That was followed by the emotionally-charged visit to New England, which matched Tom Brady against Bill Belichick and his former team for the first time. The Bucs got out of that road swing with a 1-1 split, dropping a 34-24 decision in L.A. before rebounding with a comeback 19-17 victory over the Patriots.
The week without travel is particularly welcome at the moment for the Buccaneers, who are trying to adjust to a rash of injuries, which have hit particularly hard in the secondary. Tampa Bay could be playing the Dolphins on Sunday without any of their three opening-week starters at cornerback, with Sean Murphy-Bunting on injured reserve and Carlton Davis (quad) and Jamel Dean (knee) dealing with their own injuries. The Buccaneers played much of the game in New England with the very recently-added Richard Sherman and Pierre Desir as their outside cornerbacks.
Of course, every NFL team has to deal with injuries and the Dolphins are playing through one at the game's most important position, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on injured reserve with fractured ribs. Tagovailoa went on that list before Miami's third game, which means he has to remain out at least through this weekend. Jacoby Brissett will make his third straight start in Tagovailoa's place on Sunday.
While Carolina, Denver and Las Vegas – all sitting at 3-1 at what used to be the season's quarter pole before a 17th game was added – could all be considered pleasant surprises early in 2021, the Dolphins are on the other side of that coin. After a 10-6 season in 2020 in which the defense solidified into one of the league's best unit, Miami was widely expected to be the Buffalo Bills' primary challenger in the NFC East. NFL.com, for instance, had Miami's projected win total at 9.6 and had them in the playoffs. But the defense has taken a step back, the offensive line is a work in progress and the Dolphins have lost three straight after a one-point win over the Patriots in Week One.
There is still plenty to like about Miami's roster, however. The Dolphins have put together a dynamic core of pass-catchers, though they will be without deep threat Will Fuller on Sunday due to a Week Four finger injury. The Buccaneers will still have to contend with DeVante Parker and his expansive catch radius, prolific pass-catching tight end Mike Gesicki and the newcomer to the group, electric rookie Jaylen Waddle, the sixth-overall pick in the 2021 draft. And, after contending with one of the NFL's best secondaries in Foxborough last Sunday night, the Bucs will encounter another strong defensive backfield in Week Five, a Dolphins group led by star cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. At least this one (probably) won't be played in a cold and constant rain shower.
While the Dolphins are trying to get back on track and revive their playoff-race hopes, the Buccaneers head into Sunday looking to possibly take over sole possession of first place in the NFC South. Despite winning the Super Bowl last season, Tampa Bay hasn't taken the division crown since 2007. That is the team's first goal in 2021, to take the division and thus get at least one home game to start the playoffs after running a three-game road gauntlet last January.
After four weeks, the Buccaneers are tied with the upstart Panthers atop the division with a 3-1 record. The Saints, winners of the past four NFC South titles, are lurking one back at 2-2. This would not be an ideal week for any team in the division to falter. Even if this week's challenge seems a bit less daunting than the two weeks the Bucs just completed, they will definitely not be taking a talented Dolphins team lightly.
GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS
Miami Dolphins (1-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1)
Sunday, October 10, 1:00 p.m. ET
Raymond James Stadium (capacity: 65,618)
Television: CBS (Local WTSP Channel 10)
TV Broadcast Team: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (reporter)
Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station
Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (sideline)
ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES
As they are separated by just 200 air miles, the Buccaneers and Dolphins have been frequent partners in the preseason, meeting a whopping 32 times in warmup contests. That's more than twice as many games as the Bucs have played against any other team in the preseason. However, their separation by conferences has made them infrequent combatants in the games that count, as the Bucs and 'Phins have met only 11 times in 45 previous regular seasons. The Bucs won the most recent contest in the head-to-head series, 30-20 in Miami in 2017, to take their first-ever lead in the series, 6-5.
Six of those 11 games have been decided by three or fewer points and only four had a two-score gap at the end. While the overall scoring hasn't been outrageous, it has certainly been steady: Neither team has ever scored fewer than 13 points in a game in the series.
The drama in the series began right away, as the Buccaneers welcomed the Dolphins to Tampa Stadium midway through Tampa Bay's inaugural 1976 season. The Bucs finished that campaign without a victory, but they came very close to getting one against a Miami team that was coming off six straight seasons of 10 wins or more. WR Morris Owens caught three touchdown passes for the Buccaneers, two from QB Steve Spurrier in relief of Parnell Dickinson. A failed extra point on one of those scores meant the game was tied at 20-20 late in the fourth quarter before Garo Yepremian won it for Miami with a 29-yard field goal with less than a minute to play.
Miami won four of the first five meetings but the Buccaneers were beginning a franchise revival when the two teams squared off in 1997. Tampa Bay opened that season with a five-game winning streak, of which a 31-21 win over the Dolphins in a TNT Sunday night affair was the fourth outing. FB Mike Alstott ran in two touchdowns and RB Warrick Dunn iced it with a 58-yard TD catch-and-run in the fourth quarter.
The most recent meeting, Tampa Bay's win in 2017, featured a fine performance by future Dolphin Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns in the 10-point win. The final score belies what was a very tight game, with Patrick Murray kicking a go-ahead field goal with just four seconds left. The Bucs tacked on seven more points when a desperation pitch-around on the ensuing kickoff ended in Adarius Glanton's fumble recovery in the end zone.
- Buccaneers DL Ndamukong Suh made the second of his four NFL stops in Miami, signing with the Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent after five seasons in Detroit. He played three seasons with the Dolphins (2015-17) and made the Pro Bowl in 2016.
- Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, was the Dolphins' interim head coach for the final three games of the 2011 season. That was the last of his four years in Miami, which also saw him serve as secondary coach/assistant head coach.
- Dolphins Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander kick-started his NFL coaching career with a Bill Walsh Coaching Fellowship in Tampa in 2016.
- Clyde Christensen, the Buccaneers' quarterbacks coach, was Miami's offensive coordinator from 2016-18.
- Buccaneers Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong served in the same role for the Dolphins from 2001-07.
- Tampa Bay Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers had the same role in Miami for seven years (2008-14), during which he coached Cameron Wake, who was named an Associated Press All-Pro three times.
- Buccaneers Defensive Quality Control Coach Tim Atkins began his NFL career with the Dolphins, coming aboard as a defensive assistant in 2006 and staying through the 2008 season.
- Miami backup quarterback Reid Sinnett first entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Buccaneers in 2020.
SENIOR COACHING STAFFS
- Head Coach Bruce Arians
- Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin
- Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles
- Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich
- Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong
- Head Coach Brian Flores
- Co-Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends George Godsey
- Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Eric Studesville
- Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer
- Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman
KEY 2021 ROSTER ADDITIONS
- S Andrew Adams (FA)
- RB Giovani Bernard(FA)
- LB K.J. Britt (fifth-round draft pick)
- WR Jaelon Darden(fourth-round draft pick)
- CB Pierre Desir (FA)
- CB Dee Delaney (FA)
- OL Robert Hainsey (third-round draft pick)
- CB Richard Sherman(FA)
- QB Kyle Trask (second-round draft pick)
- OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (first-round draft pick)
- QB Jacoby Brissett (UFA)
- RB Malcolm Brown (UFA)
- DT Adam Butler (UFA)
- TE Cethan Carter (UFA)
- CB Justin Coleman (FA)
- T Liam Eichenberg (second-round draft pick)
- WR Will Fuller (UFA)
- S Jevon Holland (second-round draft pick)
- DT John Jenkins (UFA)
- S Jason McCourty (FA)
- P Michael Palardy (FA)
- OLB Jaelan Phillips (first-round draft pick)
- OLB Brennan Scarlett (UFA)
- WR Jaylen Waddle (first-round draft pick)
ADDITIONAL 2021 CHANGES OF NOTE
- While "keeping the band" together on the field for a run at another championship, the Buccaneers also managed to keep their coaching staff almost entirely intact for 2021. The lone departure was Offensive Assistant Antwaan Randle El, who left to coach the receivers on Dan Campbell's staff in Detroit. There were two additions to Arians' staff: Offensive Assistant A.Q. Shipley and Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Thaddeus Lewis.
- Mike Greenberg, who provided invaluable help to Jason Licht in the efforts to keep the Bucs' Super Bowl-winning roster together as the team's director of football administration, was promoted during the offseason to vice president of football administration. Greenberg is entering his 12th year with the team.
- After playing their 2020 home schedule in front of audiences ranging from empty stands to about 25% capacity, the Buccaneers will be at full capacity at Raymond James Stadium in 2021. And we do mean full capacity. The defending champions have already sold out every home game this season; the last time every game at Raymond James Stadium sold out was in 2009.
- The Buccaneers introduced new uniforms in 2020 that were heavily influenced by the look the team had during its first Super Bowl era but also included a brand new alternate set with matching pewter jerseys and pants. That gave the team four combinations last season: pewter on pewter, white on white, white on pewter and red on pewter. The Bucs will use a fifth combination in 2021, with a red jersey over white pants, which they will wear in the Sunday Night Football spotlight at home against the Saints in Week 15.
- Veteran wide receiver Antonio Brown is not a new addition to the team in 2021 but he will have a chance to make a greater impact this season. Brown joined the Buccaneers at midseason last year and played in the last eight games of the regular season, recording 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns. He also appeared in three postseason contests and memorably scored a touchdown in Super Bowl LV. This time Brown will be an integral part of the offense from Day One, and he'll be moving more freely after having knee surgery in the offseason. From 2013-18, Brown averaged approximately 114 catches for 1,524 yards and 13 touchdowns per season.
- After just one year in the post, Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey retired. Flores responded by naming Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville and Tight Ends Coach George Godsey co-offensive coordinators. Both coaches are also continuing their duties with their respective position groups.
- After serving as a coaching assistant for two seasons, Charles Burks was promoted to cornerbacks coach for the 2021 season. Similarly, Shawn Flaherty, formerly a coaching assistant, was promoted to assistant offensive line coach. Mike Judge also got a promotion in 2021, moving up from quality control coach to assistant tight ends coach. The Dolphins added Jordan Salkin as a quality control coach
- After Gailey's retirement, the Dolphins also let Quarterbacks Coach Robby Brown go after one season on the job. He was replaced by Charlie Frye, who had spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Central Michigan. Frye also played quarterback in the NFL for six seasons.
- In March, the Dolphins sent edge rusher Shaq Lawson to the Houston Texans along with a sixth-round pick to get inside linebacker Bernardrick McKinney. However, the Dolphins then released McKinney at the end of the preseason.
- This past Tuesday, the Dolphins traded wide receiver Jakeem Grant to the Chicago Bears for a 2023 sixth-round pick. Grant had served as the team's primary punt and kickoff returner for most of the last five-plus seasons. The move likely signals that Miami is going to start utilizing rookie first-rounder Jaylen Waddle in the return game.
- Miami made two trades in August to add depth to their offensive line. First, the Dolphins sent a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Carolina Panthers for tackle Greg Little, a former first-round pick. Two weeks later, the team swapped a sixth-round pick with the Baltimore Ravens for center Greg Mancz and a seventh-round pick. Mancz started in place of the injured Michael Deiter last week, but Little has not seen any game action for the Dolphins yet.
Keep the Pressure On – The Buccaneers were intent on getting pressure on Mac Jones, the Patriots' rookie quarterback, even to the tune of blitzing on 47.8% of New England's plays, their highest blitz rate so far this season. The results were a big factor in the Bucs' two-point win, as the defensive front managed to sack Jones four times and hit him on 12 occasions. Both were single-game highs for the Bucs in 2021, after they had collected just three sacks in the first three outings combined. Ideally, the defense would like to get that kind of pressure while rushing only four as frequently as possible, but whatever it takes the Bucs need to keep that kind of pressure up in the weeks to come. Will Gholston noted last week that sacks tend to come in bunches, and Shaq Barrett said the Buccaneers would not have another game the rest of the way in which they got only one sack. Both Barrett and Gholston collected sacks in New England, with rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka getting the other two. As coaches often say, the pass-rush and the secondary work in tandem, each hopefully making it easier for the other one to do its job. At this point in the season, the Buccaneers need the front line to lead the way in that collaboration because the secondary is dealing with a rash of injuries and the immersion of some very recent arrivals into the starting lineup. In fact…
More Shuffling in the Secondary – …that's the biggest story regarding the Buccaneers right now, especially with Tom Brady's visit to Foxborough now in the rearview mirror. Sean Murphy-Bunting is on injured reserve and Carlton Davis may be joining him soon, as Bruce Arians said on Wednesday that he doesn't either starting cornerback to be back anytime soon. The Bucs' third opening-day starter at that position, Jamel Dean, missed last week's game due to injury and will be a question mark to begin Week Five. In addition, safety Antoine Winfield, who was instrumental in the win over New England with a pick and a forced fumble, suffered a concussion late in that game and will likely miss this Sunday's contest. Out of necessity, the Buccaneers will continue digging into their defensive backfield depth, including some of which has only been added very recently. The Bucs finished the New England game with Richard Sherman and Pierre Desir as their outside cornerbacks, and neither had been with the team for more than three weeks. Sherman, in fact, played all but one defensive snap only four days after arriving in Tampa. The veteran Pro Bowler said he got through the game without any panicky moments because his fellow defenders, particularly safeties Winfield and Jordan Whitehead, did such a good job of communicating with him when things were changing on the fly. Sherman and Desir should continue to play big roles against Miami, along with the versatile Ross Cockrell. The Buccaneers also have a starting-caliber replacement for Winfield in Mike Edwards, but the position gets thin after that, with only Andrew Adams waiting in reserve. Sunday's game against the Dolphins will be another test of how well the Bucs can adjust to significant and sudden lineup changes.
The Quest for First – As noted above, the Buccaneers climbed back into a tie for first last Sunday when their win over the Patriots followed an afternoon loss by the Panthers to the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams are 3-1, with the Saints sitting at 2-2 and the Falcons at the bottom with a 1-3 record. Week Four was good for the Bucs, as they avoided losing two in a row and saw every other team in the division go down in defeat. They probably won't be so lucky in Week Five as all four teams in the division are favored to win on Sunday, the Bucs by 10 over Miami, the Panthers by 3.5 at home over Philadelphia, the Saints by two on the road at Washington and the Falcons by three at home against the Jets. Tampa Bay has three more games against non-NFC South teams before they play their next intradivision contest – in New Orleans in Week Eight – and they would like to use that time to open up a lead in the division. The Bucs haven't started a season 4-1 or better since 2005, but they won the division that year. The same was true in 2002, and in 1979, and the 3-1 1997 Bucs went on to win 10 games and earn a Wild Card spot. There's a long way to go in the 2021 season, especially with the added 17th game, but grabbing first place in Week Five would be a very good sign.
Brady, Post-Foxborough – Tom Brady handled the unavoidable emotional impact of the return to his first NFL home very well, and he left Foxborough with the thing he wanted the most: a win. He also finished his quest to supplant Drew Brees as the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards, adding that feat to his records for touchdown passes and quarterback wins. Unless you count passing Craig Erickson for sixth place on Tampa Bay's career passing yards chart, there isn't another enormous milestone or headline-dominating homecoming on the horizon for Brady. So, what's next? Well, the 44-year-old veteran came out of Week Four with the second-most yards (1,356) and third-most touchdown passes in the NFL (10) and would unquestionably have to be considered in the early conversations about NFL MVP (an award he's already won three times). Brady is on pace for 43 touchdown passes and 5,763 yards thanks to that 17th game. The touchdowns would be his second-highest regular-season total, following his famous 50-TD campaign in 2007. The yards would best his current high by more than 500, which is an incredible thing to contemplate Up next are the Dolphins, who have the 17th-ranked pass defense and could be without star cornerback Byron Jones due to a quad injury. The G.O.A.T., of course, is never going to slide fully out of the NFL spotlight, but with the big homecoming now over, he can settle into a groove and potentially put up the kind of numbers that would have seemed impossible for a 40-something quarterback just a few years ago.
Are the Dolphins Due? – As noted above, Miami is off to a disappointing 1-3 start after what appeared to be a breakthrough campaign in 2020. But you know what other team was 1-3 after its first four games? The 2020 Miami Dolphins. Flores's crew righted the ship after that, winning five straight and seven of their next eight to get right back into the playoff race. The 2021 Dolphins have plenty of time to make a similar turnaround, even more so than last year given the 17th game. Historically, teams that start out 1-3 generally have a hard time rebounding enough to make the playoffs; since the league went to a 12-team postseason format in 1990, only 31 of 218 teams (14.2%) in that category have made the playoffs. Of course, there are now 17 games and 14 playoff teams so the odds should be a little bit better. Miami's turnaround last year started with a road win at San Francisco against a 49ers team that had been in the Super Bowl the previous season. The Dolphins exploded for 43 points in that game behind a journeyman veteran quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) who was playing in place of Tagovailoa. They got big plays on defense from Xavien Howard, Jerome Baker, Emmanuel Ogbah and Elandon Roberts, all of whom are still in the starting lineup in 2021. The Dolphins' dangerous passing attack with Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki hasn't kicked into high gear yet but will now face a Buccaneers defense that is riddled with injuries to the secondary and is giving up a league-high 327 passing yards per game. The Buccaneers may be facing a 1-3 team in Week Five but they should not take that team lightly. And they certainly will not.
1. Dolphins WR DeVante Parker vs. Buccaneers CB Richard Sherman
This is the type of matchup that Sherman has often turned into a very entertaining three hours during his impressive career. Parker is a big receiver (6-3, 219) with excellent hands, body control and ball skills. The 6-3, 195-pound Sherman is the same thing in a defensive back (he was, in fact, originally a receiver at Stanford). With Carlton Davis joining Sean Murphy-Bunting (and possibly Jamel Dean) on the sideline on Sunday, Sherman will be called on to start against Miami and will likely see a lot of one-on-one action with Parker. Sherman played the whole game at left cornerback in his debut against New England last Sunday night, and while Parker has split his reps almost right down the middle between the right and left sides of the offense, he plays almost exclusively on the outside. Sherman spoke candidly about his first game as a Buc on Wednesday, saying he was not satisfied with his level of play but also not surprised, given how little time he had to prepare and how long it had been since he had taken part in a game. He thinks he'll have a better grasp of the defense after another week of practice, and he might have his legs – which he said felt like Jell-O by the fourth quarter on Sunday night – a bit more underneath him. He'll certainly be challenged by Parker, who has led the Dolphins in receiving each of the last two seasons and is their top man in yardage so far this season. Parker has an impressive catch radius and can adjust to off-target throws and fight off defenders to get to the ball. If Sherman is closer to his well-established level of play in his second week back, this could be one of the most impactful matchups on the entire field in Week Five.
2. Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette vs. Dolphins LB Jerome Baker
Tampa Bay found its running game for the first time in 2021 last Sunday night, running for 119 yards on 30 totes. That included 20 carries for 91 yards by Fournette, both season highs. The Patriots had been susceptible to the run in its first three games and also followed a game plan against Brady and the Bucs that favored coverage over extra defenders in the box. The Dolphins are giving up even more rushing yards than the Patriots, at 136.8 per game, and could probably be expected to take the same approach given how potentially explosive Tampa Bay's passing attack is. Fournette ran hard against the Patriots, usually between the tackles, and consistently fought for extra yardage. Ronald Jones scored the Bucs' only touchdown on a nifty eight-yard run but Fournette got 20 carries and five passing targets to six and zero for Jones. If Fournette continues to produce at a high level, and make some impact in the passing game, he could continue to get the lion's share of the backfield snaps. Baker was the Dolphins' leading tackler in 2020 with 112 stops and he's at the top of their list again this year, with 27. While it's actually down lineman Christian Wilkins who has the Dolphins' most tackles against the run, Baker has high totals against both the run and the pass and could be assigned to cover Fournette when he leaves the backfield on a passing route. The scouting report on Baker before the 2018 draft, in which the Dolphins took him in the third round, suggested his coverage skills were excellent but that he might struggle against the run. However, he has essentially been a three-down linebacker and a starter for the past three seasons, so he has proved to be a more complete player than some expected.
3. Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki vs. Buccaneers S Jordan Whitehead
Gesicki is a tight end by name but by function he's more of a extra-large receiver. An excellent athlete for the position, Gesicki is 6-6 and 247 pounds but runs a 4.54 40-yard dash. Though he's averaging just 10.2 yards per catch so far this season, he finished with a 13.3-yard average last year and scored six touchdowns among 53 catches. A good route-runner, he can stress the defense vertically but also work the intermediate range with his change-of-direction skills. This year, he has played 64% of his snaps out in the slot and only 16% tight with the offensive line. Whitehead is off to a very nice start in his fourth NFL season, excelling in both coverage and run support. Because he spends more time in the box and sometimes lined up directly over tight ends than Mike Edwards, he's more likely to have some coverage responsibilities on Gesicki. Whitehead gives up seven inches and about 75 pounds to Gesicki but more than makes up for it with his willingness to hit anyone and his hard and sure tackling. Whitehead missed the Bucs' opener with a hamstring strain but still has 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble.
4. Buccaneers G Alex Cappa vs. Dolphins DE Christian Wilkins
So far this season, the Buccaneers are averaging 4.73 yards when running the ball over right guard, which is 12th-best in the league in that specific category. It is Cappa manning right guard again this season after he missed out on the last three games of the 2020 playoff run due to an ankle fracture in the Wild Card game at Washington. Aaron Stinnie filled in quite well for Cappa during those three games and was given a chance to battle for the starting spot in this year's training camp, but Cappa held onto his job and has helped the Bucs' offense get off to a flying start. He has also been part of an offensive line that has allowed the fifth lowest sack rate in the NFL, giving Tom Brady time to operate the league's top-ranked passing attack. Cappa will have plenty of contact with Wilkins, who regularly lines up on either side of the nose tackle but has played to his left more frequently. The 6-4, 310-pound Wilkins, who was selected 13th overall in the 2019 draft, is a load but he's also light on his feet and very quick off the snap. Through four games he is the Dolphins' leader with 2.0 sacks, matching his career-high total from his rookie season. As noted above, Wilkins also has a team-high 20 tackles on rushing plays, which is a very high number for a down lineman.
DNP: Did not participate in practice
LP: Limited participation in practice
FP: Full participation in practice
NL: Not listed
- RB Giovani Bernard (knee) – WED: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
- WR Antonio Brown (knee) – WED: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
- CB Carlton Davis (quadriceps) – WED: DNP; THURS: Placed on injured reserve.
- CB Jamel Dean (knee) – WED: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
- WR Chris Godwin (thumb) – WED: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- TE Rob Gronkowski (ribs) – WED: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- DL Patrick O'Connor (calf) – WED: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/hand) – WED: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- DL Ndamukong Suh (not injury related) – WED: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
- S Antoine Winfield, Jr. (concussion) – WED: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- CB Xavien Howard (shoulder) – WED: FP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- S Brandon Jones (ankle) – WED: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- CB Byron Jones (quad/Achilles) – WED: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- C Greg Mancz (neck)– WED: NL; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- WR DeVante Parker (shoulder) – WED: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- TE Adam Shaheen (neck) – WED: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
High of 87, low of 70, 15% chance of rain, 63% humidity, winds out of the NE at 6 mph.
Head referee: Jerome Boger (18th season, 16th as referee)
- Favorite: Buccaneers (-10)
- Over/Under: 48.0
INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
- Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 32
- Touchdowns: TE Rob Gronkowski, 4
- Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 1,356
- Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 100.3
- Rushing Yards: RB Leonard Fournette, 183
- Receptions: WR Mike Evans, 23
- Receiving Yards: WR Chris Godwin, 296
- Interceptions: S Mike Edwards, 2
- Sacks: OLB Shaquil Barrett/DL Will Gholston/OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, 2.0
- Tackles: LB Lavonte David, 32
- Points Scored: K Jason Sanders, 18
- Touchdowns: seven tied with 1
- Passing Yards: QB Jacoby Brissett, 583
- Passer Rating: QB Jacoby Brissett, 77.8
- Rushing Yards: RB Myles Gaskin, 142
- Receptions: WR Jaylen Waddle, 25
- Receiving Yards: WR DeVante Parker, 242
- Interceptions: CB Xavien Howard/LB Elandon Roberts, 1
- Sacks: CB Byron Jones, 2.0
- Tackles: LB Jerome Baker, 27
TEAM STAT RANKINGS (2020 end of season)
- Scoring Offense: 5th (30.5 ppg)
- Total Offense: 7th (399.5 ypg)
- Passing Offense: 1st (327.5 ypg)
- Rushing Offense: 30th (72.0 ypg)
- First Downs Per Game: 8th (23.5)
- Third-Down Pct.: 8th (43.6%)
- Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 5th (3.80%)
- Red Zone TD Pct.: 19th (61.1%)
- Scoring Defense: 23rd (26.3 ppg)
- Total Defense: 20th (375.0 ypg)
- Passing Defense: 32nd (327.5 ypg)
- Rushing Defense: 1st (47.5 ypg)
- First Downs Allowed Per Game: 24th (22.8)
- Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 28th (48.2%)
- Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 30th (3.76%)
- Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: t-14th (60.0%)
- Turnover Margin: t-11th (+1)
- Scoring Offense: 31st (15.5 ppg)
- Total Offense: 31st (252.0 ypg)
- Passing Offense: 30th (173.8 ypg)
- Rushing Offense: 28th (78.3 ypg)
- First Downs Per Game: 30th (16.0)
- Third-Down Pct.: 24th (36.2%)
- Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 24th (8.67%)
- Red Zone TD Pct.: t-15th (62.5%)
- Scoring Defense: 25th (27.3 ppg)
- Total Defense: 24th (388.3 ypg)
- Passing Defense: 17th (251.5 ypg)
- Rushing Defense: 27th (136.8 ypg)
- First Downs Allowed Per Game: 26th (23.3)
- Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 31st (54.2%)
- Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 27th (4.76%)
- Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: t-17th (62.5%)
- Turnover Margin: t-13th (0)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- WR Antonio Brown has 899 career regular-season receptions. If he gets one more against the Dolphins he will set the record for the fewest games needed to get to 900 career catches. The record currently belongs to Marvin Harrison, who did it in 149 games. Brown has played in 142 regular season games.
- WR Chris Godwin has 26 touchdown receptions and 27 TDs overall. He needs one more scoring grab to get to 27 and tie Mark Carrier for the sixth most in franchise history. Another score would also move him into another tie with Warrick Dunn and Doug Martin for eighth place for overall touchdowns.
- In addition, Godwin can move up one more spot on the Bucs' all-time receiving yardage chart with 77 yards on Sunday. He is currently in seventh place with 3,836 yards, just behind Joey Galloway's 3,912.
- Tom Brady broke the NFL's career passing yardage record last weekend but he's not the all-time leader in Buccaneer history. He is moving up the list quickly, however, and just 106 yards on Sunday against Miami would move him past Craig Erickson (6,094) for sixth place.
Head Coach Bruce Arians on what he wants the team to focus on this week: "The number one thing would be mental errors. Communication errors, which shouldn't be hard because we're at home. Receivers hearing audibles and things like that that we messed up on the road this week. But we eliminated the pre-snap penalties. We had one that really wasn't a penalty. That was a major emphasis last week. Protect the football and take it away – we did all those things last week. Just continue to grow in that area and again eliminate mental errors."
- OLB Shaquil Barrett on how the Bucs avoid a letdown after last week's emotionally-charged game in New England: "We prepare every week for an NFL team to come in. They have players on their team that can make plays and who can beat us on any given night and we want to become one of the best teams that we can possibly be. Coming out there and just showing them what we can do [on a] night in and night out basis is what will help us get there. We're not worried about the public view of it of not being a good team. We don't sleep on anybody. We think everybody is a good team and everybody has players that could beat us and give us a run for our money if we don't come correct."
- S Jordan Whitehead on Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki: "That's my dog. I love watching Mike play. He's a very athletic guy, very talented. I think over the last two years, I think people are really starting to see what he's able to do – go up and make those big-time contested catches. I know their quarterbacks like to lean on him a little bit so I'm excited to see what he does. I think our defense has a big challenge ahead of them, but they're more than ready."
- CB Richard Sherman on what he's learned from playing on other teams that had a concentration of injuries at one spot: "You're only as strong as your weakest link. You have to make sure everybody is prepared. You have to treat everybody as important. You don't sit there and prioritize guys on your team. Everybody is important, so you don't sit there and treat the practice squad guy – who you think you're never going to need ever – like, 'Hey man, you're trash, we don't worry about you.' You treat him as just as valuable as you do the starters. You give him the same information. You give him the same indicators. You talk to him the same way. You encourage him the same way when he is taking practice squad reps as you would when your starters are out there and they're making plays. You encourage them the same ways, you coach them the same ways. I think that's what they did well there (in San Francisco) and that's what they do well here is that as a teammate you don't sit there and say, 'Hey, these practice squad guys – you don't worry about them. When they're out there you just have conversations and drink water.' No, you encourage them and tell them what you saw. 'Hey on this play, maybe check your feet on this or maybe you need to read No. 2 a little differently on this play.' If you stay in tune like that then you don't have people that feel like they're out of connection with the team."
- Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote on how the Bucs improved their pass rush in Week Four: "Just winning. I just challenge those guys. I don't really look at the sack numbers because sometimes the quarterbacks just got the ball off or we get chips. I like to see their energy no matter what. If we have to beat two guys, the quarterback needs to feel our presence every game. I think in the Rams game, the Rams really didn't feel it that much. But they got back on track this past week."