By Curt Macysyn
Thankfully, the New York Giants do not have to visit the Superdome every year and take on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Brees continually taunts the G-men, especially down on Bourbon Street, even if the supporting cast of characters wearing gold and black changes. In reality, the Giants would be hard pressed to come up with another full fledged defensive meltdown like the one experienced in New Orleans, but never say never with this bunch.READ MORE: New York First In The Nation To Launch Federally Approved Homeowner Assistance Fund
Rookie signal caller Jameis Winston leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, after being the number one selection overall in the NFL draft this spring. Winston is having a serviceable season, and he has potentially explosive teammates like running back Doug Martin, as well as wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson to rely upon in the passing attack.
New York will have to put aside another bitter last second loss, and look forward to preparing for an improving Buccaneers squad in the second year of rebuilding under head coach Lovie Smith.
Buccaneers’ Season Record
Tampa Bay comes into this contest sporting a 3-4 record on the season that puts them in last place in the NFC south. The Buccaneers were able to come back and defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime on Sunday, as the Bucs blew a 20-3 second half lead. Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan engineered a comeback that tied the score at 20-20 with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones with only 23 seconds left in regulation. Tampa Bay withstood Atlanta’s knockout punch and then delivered one of their own as Connor Barth booted a 31-yard field goal, midway through the extra frame to send the Bucs home on a happy note.
Two weeks ago, the Buccaneers had a 24-7 halftime lead, but allowed Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins to charge back for a 31-30 Redskins’ victory in D.C. Cousins went 33 of 40 for 317 yards and three touchdown passes in the victory.
Buccaneers on Offense: Winston Looks Good, Like A Quarterback Should
The Giants will face former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for the first time on Sunday, and the rookie signal caller might actually be licking his chops over facing a defense that gave up 614 total yards to the Saints last week. Like all rookie quarterbacks, Winston has had his struggles, but his mobility will likely give the Giants’ front seven fits all afternoon. The former Florida State Seminole has completed nearly 59 percent of his passes for 1,648 passing yards and ten touchdowns. Winston has seven interceptions of the season, but he has not thrown a pick in three games.
Doug Martin has returned to form as an elite NFL running back. Martin has rushed for 612 yards on the ground this season, and he had his streak of three 100 yard rushing contests broken at three against the Falcons on Sunday. Mike Evans was drafted before Odell Beckham in the 2014 NFL draft, but Beckham thus far is the better professional receiver. Evans has only one touchdown grab on the season, and he comes into this game with averaging just four catches per game.
Vincent Jackson missed Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, and he has had only one monster game this season. Jackson caught ten passes for 147 yards and a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4.READ MORE: New York City Announces First-In-The-Nation Vaccine Mandate For Private Companies
Buccaneers on Defense: Alexander the Great
Rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander has been a little bit of everything for Tampa Bay this season. The Bucs’ fourth round draft pick this year from LSU has been a little bit of everything for the team. He ranks second in total tackles with 49. Alexander also has a quarterback sack and two interceptions to his name. These days Alexander is playing with a heavy heart as his 17-year old brother, Broderick Taylor, II, was shot to death last week in Alabama. Not only did Alexander have 11 total tackles against the Falcons, he intercepted Matt Ryan once and stripped Julio Jones of the football after a big gain on Sunday. The Bucs dedicated the win to Alexander and gave him a game ball.
Linebacker Lavonte David leads all Buccaneers in tackles with 53, so he is on pace for another season with over 100 tackles. David has eclipsed 100 tackles in his first three seasons in the league, and he was an All Pro in 2013. How good is he really? David is ranked 56th this season in the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players. Safety Chris Conte has been a nice addition to the squad, coming over from Chicago after four seasons. Conte has 42 total tackles and an interception this year.
Finally, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy still dominates the interior for the Buccaneers, and he has 4 1/2 quarterback sacks. But McCoy is primarily a run stuffer, so the G-men will need to game plan around him.
Players to Watch
The Giants always seem to scuffle when facing a mobile quarterback, and this week Jameis Winston is not only mobile, he is a large man as well. The Buccaneers have been keeping it simple for Winston, and that philosophy has paid dividends with no turnovers in three games.
Tampa Bay has an athletic linebacking corps, and the Giants would probably like to pound the ground game in order to neutralize the Bucs’ LBs. To establish the rushing attack, the G-men will need to block Gerald McCoy effectively, or else it will be chuck and duck again this week for Manning and Beckham.
If the Giants can force Winston into turnovers, then they will certainly get the upper hand, but New York cannot sleep on Doug Martin either. Neither team have been particularly good at closing out games, so whichever team can raise their level of play in the fourth quarter will be victorious. Overall, the Giants’ defense must show some resistance this week, or you can kiss the division lead good-bye.MORE NEWS: New York City Announces First-In-The-Nation Vaccine Mandate For Private Companies
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.