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Scouting Report - Week 7 - Bills vs. Buccaneers

Posted Oct 20, 2017

Running the football successfully could almost guarantee victory for the Bills based on the recent fortunes of the Buccaneers.


Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Richie Incognito vs. Gerald McCoy
One of the best three-technique defensive tackles will need to be handled with double teams to hold him in check. It’s also possible they move McCoy to the other side of the line to face Vladimir Ducasse instead of Buffalo’s Pro Bowl guard.

2 – Jordan Poyer vs. Cameron Brate
Tampa’s primary tight end is a major red zone threat and is effective in moving the sticks. Poyer will need to keep Brate from getting up the seam for chunk plays in the passing game.

3 – Tre’Davious White vs. Mike Evans
Buffalo’s rookie draws another tough assignment in the tall and physical Evans, who wins jump balls

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage: Red zone defense
The Bills have been stout when it comes to keeping opponents out of the end zone this season once they crack Buffalo’s 20-yard line. Leslie Frazier’s group has given up the second-fewest red zone touchdowns this season, allowing just five in five games. Tampa is a middle-of-the-pack red zone offense (13th).

Best advantage: Run defense
Buffalo’s run defense has been solid for the most part. They’re giving up less than 88 rushing yards per game. That coupled with Tampa’s struggles in rushing the ball, even with Doug Martin back in the lineup, should enable the Bills defense to make the Bucs attack one dimensional.

Bills Number 1 Must
Stick with the run
Even though it’s had mixed success at best the past four games, Buffalo’s self-examination during the bye week should provide new solutions for the Bills ground game. Tampa’s run defense is steady, but not spectacular, so sticking to the run, provided Buffalo’s defense holds Tampa’s offense down, should yield the results the Bills are after.

Scouting Eye
Winston to start
Bucs starting QB Jameis Winston sustained a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder early in last week’s loss at Arizona. He didn't throw in practice until Friday after being limited on Wednesday and Thursday. Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in for Winston in last week’s game and led a comeback effort after the Bucs went down 31-0 in the first half. Fitzpatrick threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in a 38-33 defeat.

With Winston starting Sunday, the Bills defensive unit will quickly try to ascertain how much of his arm strength Winston possesses and make adjustments.

Return of the Kwon
Tampa middle linebacker Kwon Alexander has missed the past four games with a hamstring injury. The third-year player was the team’s leading tackler last year. It appears that Alexander will be back in the lineup for the Bucs this weekend. He was cleared to practice this week and has not had any limitations in practice. Alexander is a three-down linebacker capable of covering the field sideline to sideline.

Defense struggling
Tampa’s defense is respectable against the run, but not much else so far this season. Ranked 22nd in red zone defense only four other NFL teams have given up more red zone points than the 101 the Bucs have surrendered in five games.

Part of the problem has been their inability to get off the field. Tampa ranks 30th in third down defense and that can be attributed to their alarming lack of a pass rush. The Bucs are last in the league in sacks per play with just six in five games.

Offense can’t stay on the field
Compounding the problems on defense is Tampa’s offense has been unable to stay on the field. Ranked 30th in rushing, staying in manageable down and distance has proven difficult at times for the Bucs. It’s why they’re ranked 31st in time of possession at just a shade over 27 and a half minutes per game (27:36). Fortunately for them, scoring points hasn’t proven as difficult.

Secondary situations
The Bucs rank a disappointing 31st in the league against the pass. The struggles are due in part to the aforementioned lack of a pass rush. Second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves has also been struggling in coverage. The criticism has been a lack of aggressiveness. With proven veteran Brent Grimes on the other side, Hargreaves is getting tested a lot, and has chosen to give most opponents a big cushion. The result is he’s allowing a ton of plays underneath.

According to Pro Football Focus, when Tampa runs a man coverage shell they’ve surrendered a catch on better than 64 percent of passes against them. That’s the fourth-worst mark in the league.

Tampa Bay has also begun to implement a three-man safety rotation. Rookie Justin Evans has impressed and has been rotated in with starters Chris Conte and Keith Tandy.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week
“I feel confident this week, our game plan that we have, it’s time to get going. It’s time for myself to get rolling, get back to the normal big chunks, big plays, more one-on-one opportunities, like we’ve been doing. I look forward to this week [and] having a big game. It’s about time, you know. It’s about time.”
RB LeSean McCoy

Stat of the week
Buffalo has committed just two turnovers through five games, and is the only NFL team yet to lose a fumble. The Bills’ 8 turnover differential is the second best in the NFL.

Milestones in reach
Preston Brown needs two tackles for 400 in his career.

LeSean McCoy needs two touchdowns for 75 in his playing career.

Tyrod Taylor (25 – tied with Jack Kemp) needs one rushing touchdown for sole possession of second place on the Bills all-time quarterback list.

Final note
The Buccaneers are 2-0 this season when they hold an opponent under 100 rushing yards and 0-3 when the opponent has 100 rushing yards or more.

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