GAME OVERVIEW ::
By Hilow >>
- The Vikings move from defensive prevent artist Ed Donatell to the ultra-aggressive Brian Flores at defensive coordinator.
- Justin Jefferson should once again challenge for the league lead in targets and receptions while Alexander Mattison should finish in the top 12 in total volume at the running back position this season.
- Minnesota should find some level of success here – the question then becomes, how will Tampa Bay respond to being punched in the mouth.
- There is talent aplenty on both sides of this contest, but it is likely up to the Vikings to drive the game environment on offense with the Buccaneers much more likely to want to manage the game.
HOW TAMPA BAY WILL TRY TO WIN ::
The strength of this Tampa Bay roster resides on the defensive side of the ball. First-time offensive coordinator Dave Canales comes to the team from his previous post as an offensive assistant in Seattle, where he helped manufacture a balanced offense that also had some elite talent and a journeyman quarterback (similar to these Buccaneers). Seattle’s offense was built to maximize the talent on the field, which is a relative contrast to the previous Tampa Bay offense under Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich, which was more tailored to generating one-on-one matchups and asking their players to win. I expect more pre-snap motion and a more layered and diverse route tree from Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, and Cade Otton this year. But the core of this team rests with their defense, meaning we should see game plans built around minimizing mistakes and controlling the football on offense to start the season.
Gone is Leonard Fournette and the 10th most weighted opportunities from a season ago (244). The team did little to address backfield depth this offseason behind de facto starter Rachaad White, bringing in veteran journeyman Chase Edmonds and signing electric rookie Sean Tucker as an undrafted free agent. Reports from Tampa Bay indicate it is likeliest to be Tucker who begins the season as the change of pace back behind White, the former of whom went undrafted due to concerns about his health rather than merit. That said, expect White to begin the season with a robust role out of the backfield, capable as both a rusher and pass-catcher. Starting quarterback Baker Mayfield has one of the highest check-down rates of any quarterback over the previous five seasons, which could serve well to bolster White’s weekly floor in full PPR formats. White will still need to find the end zone to carry any meaningful GPP-worthy ceiling on a weekly basis, which could be difficult to come by in this offense. The Buccaneers have one of the youngest offensive lines in the game currently and also have their most talented player up front changing positions (Tristan Wirfs) from right tackle to left tackle, meaning we could see this unit start slow this year.
Russell Gage was lost for the season after suffering a torn patellar tendon in joint practices in mid-August, leaving this pass-catching corps appearing to be extremely concentrated on paper amongst Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Cade Otton. Undervalued but electric rookie wide receiver Trey Palmer should stick as a starter from 11-personnel and brings a downfield element to the offense that had largely been missing over the previous two seasons. Reports from camp indicated an offensive design tailored to generating space within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage, which gives this offense some level of intrigue beyond the talent on the roster. As in, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Cade Otton with the ball in their hands in space is something we largely haven’t seen throughout their respective careers and something that could generate some upside even with Baker Mayfield under center.