The Buccaneers are back on the road this afternoon as they travel to Denver to take on a banged-up Denver Broncos team.
This will be the Buccaneers first trip to Denver in eight years. The last time these two teams met was in Tampa in 2016. The Broncos wn that 27-7.
The Bucs have not had a track record of success grant the Broncos, going 2-7 all-time against the Broncos.
The Broncos lost their starting quarterback Drew Lock with a shoulder injury in the game against Pittsburgh last week. a lock is expected to be out 2-6 weeks.
Jeff Driskel will get the start and be under center for the Broncos.
The Broncos have a lot of other significant injuries starting with running back Phillip Lindsay.
Lindsay is nursing an ankle injury and is listed as doubtful.
Wide receiver Jerry Judy has a rib injury and is listed as doubtful.
The Broncos are also missing All-Pro linebacker Von Miller and starting wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Sutton and Miller are out for the season.
The Broncos come into today’s game with an 0-2 record after last week’s loss to the Steelers 26-21.
The Bucs 1-1, are still trying to find their way offensively. The Bucs beat a young Panthers team last week 31-17 but need to get in better sync offensively
The Broncos run defense will be tested today as they should see a heavy dose of Leonard Fournette.
Fournette, had one of his best games as a pro last year against Denver as he ran for 226 yards and averaged over seven yards a carry in the Jaguars win over Denver.
Denver head coach Vic Fangio is hoping for a better game against Fournette this time around. “Hopefully, we’ll have a better day against him than we did last year. He’s a very good back, a big back, got speed. And he’s winding into shape. They gave him the ball more last week. So he’s getting in better physical shape and he’s getting better acclimated to their offense. I would expect to see a good bit of him this game, or more than he’s been playing.”
Fournette had a good game last week against the Panthers, as he ran for 104 yards and averaged 5.5 yards a carry.
This will also be a homecoming of sorts for linebacker Shaq Barrett.
Barrett spent the first five years of his career in Denver before signing with the Bucs. Barrett set the all-time season sack record for the Bucs last season with 19 and was the NFL sack leader last season as well.
Justin Watson is the only Buccaneer out for this game. Watson has a shoulder injury. Scotty Miller should see plenty of chances again this week as he and Tom Brady are developing some good chemistry.
Tom Brady is still getting acclimated to the offense as Brady and the receivers are still not on the same page at times.
This is a game the Bucs should win. They are the better team and the more talented team. However, Bruce Arians issued a word of caution this week to his team.
“I don’t think we’re anybody that can let our guard down. We haven’t done anything. We’d better be strapped on and ready to go. They’re a very well-coached football team and everybody’s got injuries. We’re nobody to look past anybody, so that message was passed to players. They’re a damn good football team. They can beat anybody on their schedule. Their tape doesn’t lie, they’re good.”
Will we see more of Rob Gronkowski in the offense this week? According to Arians that depends on the game situation.
“We haven’t had that many red-zone opportunities, and I don’t see him running 40 yards past people any more. But we brought him in to just play tight end, and if that means no catches, it means no catches. If it means 10 catches, it means 10 catches because he’s open, and that’s where the ball goes.”
Gronkowski, when asked about it this week said that “I’m a blocking tight end.” Gronkowski has one catch on the season.
Arians has never used tights ends that much in his offense except for blocking purposes.
In Pittsburgh when Arians was an offensive coordinator, he had Heath Miller as his tight end. Miller had 76 catches during the 2009 season, a career-high.
Other than that one season, the tight ends do not play a significant role in the passing game.
The Bucs will win this game.
Look for Tom Brady and the offense to get more in synch, and the defense should continue to show continued improvement.
Bucs win 35-14.