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March 5, 2019
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December 25, 2018
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Tampa Bay might be the most surprising team in the NFL through the first two weeks of the 2018 season. After knocking off New Orleans in a high-octane affair in week one White Kwon Alexander Jersey , the Buccaneers responded by taking down the defending champs last Sunday.It won’t get any easier in week three with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town. Despite missing Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers offense is still elite, currently ranked No. 2 in the league behind who else, Tampa Bay. It’ll be interesting to see if Ryan Fitzpatrick can stay hot against a Pittsburgh defense that struggled against the pass a week ago. The Bucs have the weapons on offense to light up the scoreboard for the third straight week against a defense that has allowed 31.5 points per game.1. Finding success on the groundThough Tampa Bay has blitzed its opponents up through the air during its first two games, the Buccaneers haven’t found much success on the ground.As a whole, the offense has averaged 77.5 rushing yards per game on only 2.7 yards per attempt. Tampa Bay may have to get more creative with its play calling to open up the run.Will we see Ronald Jones get a chance to spark this offense in week three?2. Taking advantage of a weak secondaryPittsburgh got blindsided last week in a high-scoring loss to Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes was on fire, completing 23 of his 28 passes for 326 yards and six touchdowns. With the success Tampa Bay has had through the air in its first two wins, Fitzpatrick and the receiving corps will be the players to watch on Monday night.The former Harvard star has been incredible early in 2018, completing 78.7% of his passes for 819 yards with eight touchdowns compared to just one interception. If the deep balls continue to connect Youth Carlton Davis Jersey , expect another explosive performance from the Bucs offense.3. Pass protectionDespite the Steelers allowing 31.5 points per game and having some breakdowns in the secondary, this team has rushed the passer well.Pittsburgh has amassed eight sacks during its first two games, netting four in each contest. On the other side, Tampa Bay has only allowed two sacks in its first two games.After holding off a stout Philadelphia Eagles defensive line last week, the Bucs offensive line is up for another challenge. 4. A big game from the defensive lineTampa Bay is heading into its contest against Pittsburgh severely limited on the defensive line. Starting defensive tackle Beau Allen and First-Round pick Vita Vea have both been ruled out for the game.That means Gerald McCoy and Jerel Worthy are the only healthy interior linemen for the Buccaneers. We’ll likely see defensive ends William Gholston and Will Clarke get some burn on the inside to help keep McCoy as fresh as possible.This is going to be a grinding effort from this defense and it all starts up front. Tampa Bay is going to need the entire defensive line to step up this week. 5. Limiting intermediate playsDespite starting 0-2, Pittsburgh has still performed well on offense. The Steelers are tied for first in the NFL with 58 first downs, with 42 coming through the air.Tampa Bay has surrendered 376.5 passing yards per game to New Orleans and Philadelphia. Starting cornerback Brent Grimes was a full participant on Saturday and he could provide a big boost to the Bucs secondary.Grimes missed the first two games with a hamstring injury. Safety Chris Conte is also expected to play despite a knee injury. With a short-handed defensive line and a young defensive backfield, it is vital for Tampa Bay to limit Pittsburgh’s intermediate plays to try and prevent them from racking up first downs. The NFL tapped Titans coach Mike Vrabel to narrate a video detailing the new rule on lowering the head to initiate contact, hoping the man who played 14 years as a linebacker in the league could more easily explain how players should adapt.Now Vrabel's own Titans (0-2) find themselves tied with defending champion Philadelphia for the most lowering-the-head penalties through two preseason games with five apiece. Tennessee was flagged three times for the new rule in an opening loss in Green Bay White Peyton Barber Jersey , and the Titans added two more in Saturday night's 30-14 loss to Tampa Bay .Getting it right matters because any player initiating contact with his helmet could be ejected after an in-game video review decided in New York.So far this preseason, blame either the player making contact, the speed of the game or everyone still getting used to the new rule."Pretty much all those are going to fall into one of those categories," Vrabel said Sunday.Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro drew one penalty for running across the field to tackle Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans at the end of a 38-yard reception on the sideline. Wide receiver Nick Williams was flagged late in the third quarter while on punt coverage, costing the Titans 15 yards.Vrabel said Vaccaro has to do a better job avoiding contact with the crown of his helmet while trying to break up the pass. The coach wasn't sure if Williams made contact, but noted the receiver's head was in the linear position the NFL is trying to eliminate from the game. The Titans will turn those plays into the league for an explanation.The coach said he already showed his team an eight-minute video from the NFL of penalties in the first week of the preseason."We'll keep doing that and we'll keep coaching it and we'll keep stressing it, and hopefully it doesn't, one, lead to injuries Youth Chris Godwin Jersey , or two, cost us yards," Vrabel said.Even though the rule is new, six NFL teams that have played two preseason games have not been flagged even once for lowering the head to initiate contact. Indianapolis, who plays Baltimore on Monday night, was not flagged in its preseason opener. Behind the Titans and Eagles, five teams have been penalized under the rule three times apiece: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina White Chris Conte Jersey , the Rams and San Francisco.Chicago has three such penalties through three exhibitions.The Titans have been penalized 25 times for 258 yards through two games.Asked if officials might be a bit overzealous enforcing the rule during the preseason before hopefully scaling back in the regular season, Vrabel said he wasn't really sure."I try to do my job. They ask me to provide a video, a voiceover video , on what I thought was the right way to play outside linebacker or inside linebacker taking these blocks on, tackling. I thought I tried to go through and provide examples of what was good and what was probably needed to be fixed and changed in some of the style of play," Vrabel said."But they don't tell me, 'Hey, coach, this is going to get scaled back in the regular season.' I think these guys are doing what their boss Youth Mike Evans Jersey , and the league, is just telling them to do. So if they see that position and they see contact, they're calling it."That leaves Vrabel and his assistants coaching the Titans better to adjust how they play.Follow Teresa M. Walker at teresamwalker

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