J.T. Olsen – Bucs Report special to News Talk Florida
We have finally arrived! After months of waiting, Tampa Bay Buccaneers football has returned as the Pewter Pirates travel to Minnesota on Sunday for their season opener against the Vikings. This will be their first regular season game of the year and it is on the road against a team that won 13 games last season.
This clash between 2022 playoff teams should be a very interesting matchup. The Vikings return most of one of the best offenses in the NFL last year and the Bucs are in the same boat with their defense. This should make for an exciting strength vs strength type of game.
However, it will be the game within the game that determines this outcome. Individual matchups will always have a huge sway on what happens overall. Here are this weeks X-Factor matchups against the Minnesota Vikings.
Justin Jefferson Vs Buccaneers Corners
For my money, Justin Jefferson is the best wide receiver in the NFL. He is an excellent route runner with great hands and physical tools. I’m not sure there is a corner in the NFL today that can matchup with him one on one and shut him down.
This includes the Bucs, who have one of the best corner duos in the NFL. Jamel Dean has the size and long speed to try to limit Jefferson from making big plays. Carlton David has the physicality to disrupt Jefferson at the line of scrimmage with a good press.
Both corners should see time against Jefferson as the Bucs typically don’t shadow any opposing wide receiver. Between the two, the Bucs have the ability to make life difficult for Jefferson. Against an opponent of this caliber, you can only hope to limit him.
If the pair of Dean and Davis can keep Jefferson right around that 100 yard receiving mark or less, then that should put the Bucs in a very good position to win the game.
Danielle Hunter Vs Luke Goedeke
The Vikings don’t have a lot of high end defensive talent. However, one of the few disruptors they do have is pass rusher Danielle Hunter. He brings speed and flexibility off the edge and has the size and strength to make him a well rounded threat. He is without question one of the better pass rushers in the NFL, having logged double digit sacks in his last three fully healthy seasons.
This will be the first true test for new right tackle Luke Goedeke. While Goedeke played right tackle in college, he was drafted to play guard in the NFL. That transition had some ups and downs as a rookie. Now the Bucs are trying him at his original college position.
Goedeke has looked mostly good in his preseason showings, but this will certainly be a step up in competition and intensity. Whether or not he can rise to this challenge will be a major factor on the outcome of this game.
Dave Canales Vs Brian Flores
The Buccaneers offense and Vikings defense were two of the worst units in the NFL last year. Thus, each team brought in a new coordinator to right the ship. For the Buccaneers it was Dave Canales in his first coordinator opportunity. For the Vikings it was former Patriots defensive coordinator and Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.
Flores is much more experienced in his role, so in theory should have an advantage over Canales in this matchup. However, Canales has more talent to work with and has had the luxury of working with another one of the best defensive minds in the game with head coach Todd Bowles. This sets up for a very interesting chess match.
I do expect this game to be relatively low scoring, with both teams scoring in the mid twenties. However, one misstep from either of these new coordinators could be the difference in the game. Rhythm and play calling will play a major factor in this one.