6 Things to Watch in Packers vs Buccaneers: Can Green Bay Get to Brady?

Six things to watch as the Green Bay Packers take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Packers head to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon looking to exorcise some demons.

Green Bay produced one of their patented ‘no show’ performances under Matt LaFleur in Tampa two seasons ago, culminating in a 38-10 loss, and were later beaten again by the Buccaneers in a frustrating NFC Championship Game.

But this time, things could be different. Green Bay has a stronger defense, at least on paper, than in 2020, and with Tom Brady another two years older and lacking offensive weapons for Sunday’s contest, the Packers have a real chance of exacting some revenge this weekend.

Here are six things to watch as the Packers take on the Buccaneers.

Will the Packers start better on defense?

Joe Barry’s unit has allowed just three touchdowns through two games, but two of those came on their opponents’ opening drive.

There was an element of surprise which may have contributed to both the Vikings and Bears’ touchdown marches, with Minnesota unveiling a new offense and the Bears relying on a trick play to gain a big chunk of yardage.

The Bucs offense has been anything but dynamic in the first two weeks, and this could provide the Packers defense with a chance to set the tone early. In the hot Florida weather, spending as little time on the field as possible takes on even more importance for Green Bay’s defense.

Take care of the ball

The Packers have had issues holding onto the football through two weeks and currently have a turnover ratio of -2.

Aaron Rodgers must bear the responsibility for each of Green Bay’s three turnovers, after launching a head-scratching pick against Minnesota as well as fumbling, and then botching a handoff to A.J. Dillon versus Chicago.

Rodgers is famously turnover-averse, so it is fair to put his early season errors down to rust and/or teething problems during the implementation of a non-Davante-Adams-centric offense.

Regardless, in what is likely to be a low-scoring game, every possession will be crucial, and the Packers cannot afford to give one away on Sunday.

Wide receiver attrition

Both the Packers and Buccaneers could be without multiple key weapons for this game, with a litany of receivers on the respective final injury reports.

Sammy Watkins has been placed on IR, while Randall Cobb and Christian Watson are questionable to play for Green Bay. On Tampa Bay’s side, Chris Godwin is out, Mike Evans is suspended, and Julio Jones, Russell Gage and Breshad Perriman are questionable.

The Packers may enter Sunday with the stronger receiving group, something few people would have imagined a couple of weeks ago.

Rodgers has been hesitant to look toward his younger pass catchers so far this season, but he may be forced to change his ways this week, and that may be a blessing in disguise.

While Rodgers trusts Cobb, Watkins and Allen Lazard more than Watson and Romeo Doubs, the rookies simply have more juice and ability to get open. If 12 starts looking their way and giving them a chance to make a play, we could see a breakout game from either Doubs or Watson (if he plays).

Can the Packers get to Tom Brady?

Green Bay has generated the highest rate of pressure in the NFL this season at a staggering 64%, according to PFF, and that’s without sending a single blitz so far. That same recipe will be important to limiting Tampa Bay’s passing attack on Sunday.

Brady has seen every blitz in the book and knows how to pick each of them apart, but if the Packers can get pressure with four or five, it will be a game-changer.

At this stage of his career, the Bucs QB won’t be able to escape the pocket if it begins to constrict, so in obvious passing situations, expect Rashan Gary, Preston Smith and Kenny Clark to attack with reckless abandon.

Stop Fournette

Leonard Fournette has been on Tampa Bay’s injury report all week, and is listed as questionable heading into Sunday’s game, but he has also practiced every day and with the other injuries the Bucs are facing, it would be a shock not to see Fournette out there.

If he does indeed suit up, the Bucs will likely look to channel their offense through the bruising Fournette, especially after seeing the Packers tackling woes against the Bears.

Green Bay struggled to contain ‘Playoff Lenny’ when the teams met in the postseason two seasons ago, with Fournette carrying the ball for 4.6 yards per tote and a touchdown.

Bottling up Fournette and getting the Buccaneers into third and long should be priority number one for the Packers.

Green Bay’s interior vs Vita Vea

The Packers caught a break in that they won’t face familiar foe Akiem Hicks, who has been officially ruled out, but they will still have to deal with man mountain Vita Vea on Sunday.

Josh Myers has been up and down to start the season, and the young center will need to bring his A-game against Vea.

Expect the Buccaneers to line him up against Royce Newman as well, in an effort to take advantage of the second-year guard. Vea can absolutely wreck shop if the Packers don’t have an effective plan to neutralize him.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

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Comments (44)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
splitpea1's picture

September 24, 2022 at 03:30 pm

7. Can the entirety of the Packers OL hold up? There's Vea, but there's also White, David, and Barrett. With AR's proclivity for holding the ball, the line is going to need to play exceptionally well to avoid a Bucs sack-fest.

8. While our defense is pressuring Brady, how about a strip sack or a DB making a break on the ball for a pick six? Time for this defense to show vs. a quality opponent.

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gpt999's picture

September 24, 2022 at 04:04 pm

I would LOVE to see GB primarily in man against TB. With many of their receivers injured, Brady will likely throw short passes. So, some press coverage may get our D Line some sacks. But will "passive" Joe Barry do it?

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marpag1's picture

September 25, 2022 at 06:13 am

Press and man are not synonymous. Press is not the opposite of zone. It is entirely possible, and really quite common, to play press-zone coverage.

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marpag1's picture

September 25, 2022 at 06:18 am

" AR's proclivity for holding the ball"

This hasn't really been true in recent years during the MLF era. Last year, 2021, there were TWENTY-SEVEN starting quarterbacks who held the ball longer than ARod. Rodgers was 11th the year before that.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2021/passing_advanced.htm

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DragonSilk's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:25 am

Just saw that #69 expects to play. That will upgrade the entire unit if he does.

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Since'75's picture

September 24, 2022 at 03:30 pm

Defense vs defense

This game probably will be won up at the line of scrimmage, not unlike the last time they met.
Will the Packers O line get steamrolled again?
Can the running game sustain like against the bears?
Will it be a good opportunity for the defense to shine against a weak Buc offense?
Should be entertaining to find out.

Curious why the font in the article is so small.

GPG!!

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 25, 2022 at 12:45 pm

If Lowry is playing the early downs, Tampa will grind him out of the way. White and David vs Walker and Campbell; the Bucs have the Tougher duo. See if the ILBs can fill fast and hard for the Pack, or or stand like pickets ready to fall?

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LambeauPlain's picture

September 24, 2022 at 03:31 pm

I doubt Dave will play. If he does, is Yosh on the bench...or do you throw the Bucs a curveball and start Dave, Jenks, Myers, Runyan, & Yosh?

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gpt999's picture

September 24, 2022 at 04:09 pm

Good call! Wouldn't it be great to have our 5 best O-linemen out there for a change? But, the week in, week out soap opera around Bahk doesn't give me a lot of confidence he will play either. Even if they all couldn.t be on the field at once, even if Bakh and Josh could share some reps I would be happy...

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 24, 2022 at 07:24 pm

Tampa is in the same situation, see which coaching staff handles it best.

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MainePackFan's picture

September 24, 2022 at 07:53 pm

Question is, are the Packers better with Yosh at RT, or Newman at guard. I think (if Bahk plays) they keep Yosh on the bench in case Dave needs a break.

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Coldworld's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:08 am

I think we forget that Runyon has been exclusively on the left too. That would mean switching two players as well as Jenkins. Both Runyon and Nijman would both be on the right and on an unfamiliar side. The key to success is typically to minimize that.

Unless they’ve been practicing that unseen (one could hope), I would not start Bakh, start him with Nijman as back up, or swap Nijman and move Jenkins and sit the G he replaced (Whether Newman or Runyon) this week.

Personally, I’d go with another week for Bakh, but if not, just for this week i would leave it at that. Bakh having stamina issues is a very real possibility. That doesn’t just risk poor play and Rodgers, it risks injury. I’d want Nijman ready this week and just focused on LT. Starting tomorrow, I’d start practicing in my preferred lineup consistently (whatever that is) if Bakh gets through the game and there are no new injuries.

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Coldworld's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:10 am

Could just be misinformation or just moral support for Bakh , there’s a ton of get out in the caveats.

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Swisch's picture

September 24, 2022 at 04:10 pm

The Bucs now have Cole Beasley, who would have been a good pickup for the Packers in the slot, it seems to me.
As for the guys the Packers do have, I'm hoping Winfree gets some targets, and that he shines.

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Starrbrite's picture

September 24, 2022 at 05:35 pm

I agree Swisch—we had an opportunity to grab him. It’s likely they believe Cobb is our Beasley.

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Swisch's picture

September 24, 2022 at 05:52 pm

Hey, Starrbrite, the Packers' front office has to hope Cobb is about as good as Beasley after they gave in to the pressure of Aaron Rodgers to acquire Cobb.
As a big fan of Cobb over the years, I'm rooting for him to do it, although doubtful.
Beasley has had 82 catches each of the past two seasons, and seems to have aged better than Cobb.
On a team not dysfunctional due to Rodgers and his enablers in management, it seems Beasley would have been the clear choice.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 25, 2022 at 02:03 am

Meh. 8.5 yards per catch by a tiny 33 year old WR is a warning sign. Cobb is younger, bigger and much more efficient at 13.4 YPC.

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marpag1's picture

September 25, 2022 at 08:05 am

"It’s likely they believe Cobb is our Beasley."

I would say, "It's likely they believe Beasley is a midget, who can't block on the edges the way this offensive scheme demands."

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Starrbrite's picture

September 24, 2022 at 06:07 pm

Yes—couldn’t have said it better—again, completely agree.

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Starrbrite's picture

September 24, 2022 at 05:33 pm

Excellent analysis Mark—kudos!!

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NickPerry's picture

September 24, 2022 at 06:13 pm

"If 12 starts looking their way and giving them a chance to make a play, we could see a breakout game from either Doubs or Watson (if he plays)."

Sigh... Well, I certainly hope he starts looking their way because if Rodgers is even serious about sniffing a SB this year he MUST begin to throw to Doubs and Watson.

Watkins is already hurt and out for at least 4 games. I actually thought he last a little longer but I guess not. Thanks for week 2 Sammy, at least we got one decent game out of you.

Hopefully, Lazard is able to do a bit more this week. Cobby is a gamer and will always give a little something but he's 32 and is Gramps of the room. Lazard can catch all those quick slants Adams ran. He's BIGGER, not much slower if at all than Adams, but he doesn't have the hands or get off Adams did/does. BUT, he can still be huge for this team.

Mark didn't mention Dillon and Jones which I'm sure was because everybody has all week. Meyers is a BIG dude and needs to start handling his man. Whether it's Vita Vea or someone else Meyers needs to step it up. It starts this weekend with Vea.

Message to Joe Barry... You have an ILB who is a physical specimen. He runs like a deer, hits like a truck, and if given the chance I'm sure could annoy the hell out of a 45 year old Brady or ANY QB for that matter. Let's give it a try because IMO this is as about as must-win as a week 3 game can be. 2-1 and 2-1 in the NFC WITH the tie-breaker over TB is HUGE. But to be 1-2 and TB being 3-0 with a 2.5 game lead in the NFC standings over GB would be pretty brutal. Even this early.

GO PACK GO!!

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Starrbrite's picture

September 24, 2022 at 06:20 pm

Well said NickPerry.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 25, 2022 at 02:06 am

Anybody can take a look at the stats and see he has already looked their way. Anything else is the narrative of the uniformed.

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Coldworld's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:16 am

Looking their way when Watson had most of his targets under 4 yards from the line of scrimmage (and his long is from Love) is technically correct but totally futilely so. Doubs’ depth of target is only marginally less dismal. One deep throw never repeated between the two of them.

Yes you are right, but if that’s their plan, they might as well forget it for it’s almost as futile as not targeting them at all in terms of any worthwhile objective.

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Since'75's picture

September 25, 2022 at 02:37 pm

Nick .....
Yes, we want Rodgers to throw to Doubs and Watson. I'm sure Rodgers does also.
But..it isn't always that simple.
No disrespect, but these guys aren't Justin Jefferson.
Packer fans have long discussed how long it's taken a receiver to get up to speed to be an impact player.
Nelson, JJ, Adams...all took a couple seasons
The difference between then and now is, those receivers weren't relied upon their first two seasons because those teams always had veteran, productive receivers ahead of them, they didn't have to produce.

It's different now...the receiver room was neglected, to the point where they were forced to draft a receiver high for a change, plus, they felt like they had to sign Sammy Watkins.

So now, were telling Aaron Rodgers in the 3rd week of their rookie seasons, Doubs and Watson need to be impact players?

If memory serves Rodgers gave Watson the perfect opportunity to have an impact play and couldn't get it done.

It's not just up to Rodgers, obviously these receivers need to be up to speed, Route tree's, communication, complete play knowledge, execution, etc, but at the same time...these guys are green!
Not their fault, or Rodgers fault, it's the hand they were dealt.

By all means, get these guys involved, get them some catches and confidence.
But....they aren't going to magically be "go to" receivers in their 3rd, 4th, or 8th. game.

If a team is serious about getting to a Super Bowl, you simply can't rely on a rookie draft class to help get you there.
That's not how Championship teams are built.

In an effective draft and develop philosophy
Those teams don't rely on a rookie draft class to get to a SB.

A true rookie that helps you get to a SB is rare occurrence, but it happens occasionally.

I recall the Buccaneers drafting of Tristan Wirfs in 2020
.

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PackAttack4155's picture

September 24, 2022 at 06:50 pm

Some reports coming out suggesting Bakhtiari's going to play. If that's indeed the case, who plays where along the line?

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dobber's picture

September 24, 2022 at 07:40 pm

I don't think he plays a full allotment of snaps. I think they'll spell him with Nijman, some, which would lead me to expect last week's lineup plus Bakh.

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PackAttack4155's picture

September 24, 2022 at 07:58 pm

That's probably the safest bet. I've mentioned this in other articles, but it'd be great if Nijman and Bahk played tackle, whoever it maybe that's better prepped to take RT, and Jenkins kicks inside. Kinda hoping this was a strategic move to keep Bahk out until this week, and he's good to play the whole game.

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dobber's picture

September 24, 2022 at 08:01 pm

I agree: I think in the long run, their 5 best are Bakh, Jenkins, Myers, JRJ and Nijman, IF Nijman can handle the right side.

Playing a full, first game back in that Tampa heat might be a lot to ask.

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PackAttack4155's picture

September 25, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Jenkins you can pretty much put anywhere; leave JRJ where he's been playing well. That right side needs the help. And I wonder if leaving Nijman on the left side, since he's been doing just fine, and let Bakh return at RT would be best.

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Coldworld's picture

September 25, 2022 at 11:20 am

Shuffling Ts mid game is a risky ploy. No one does that except when forced and as little as possible. If they plan on that, done one stop them or plan on playing Love. If Nijman comes in, it should be to stay.

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stockholder's picture

September 24, 2022 at 07:22 pm

I'm looking for promises kept. This team has more talent than years past. Yet- they still don't show it. The question marks continue to come up. Week after week. We have a crisis along this OL. The DL has yet to show up.
The SECONDARY must be perfect. Blown assignments; Are the biggest clue to failure.
And don't give me the hype of Rodgers vs Brady. We're playing a legitimate play-off contender.
What has to be addressed: What Veterans can be counted on? Or are the Rookies the better option!
Has the coaching staff figured it out? Or is Rodgers the only reason we're a contender.

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Charvid's picture

September 24, 2022 at 10:47 pm

“Week after week”?? We are 2 weeks into the season.

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stockholder's picture

September 25, 2022 at 08:36 am

I counted the pre-season. (OL)

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PackfanNY's picture

September 24, 2022 at 07:33 pm

The one thing I remember about the Bucs defense is forget side to side on offense. We need to work north/south. The linebackers are too fast so the Packers need to work between the tackles. Sets up play action game. Running side to side will get us nothing and result in lost yards and falling behind the sticks.

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NickPerry's picture

September 25, 2022 at 08:11 am

Exactly PackfanNY, exactly. I actually think Dillon will be the better option in this game. Nothing would make me happier than watching Dillon just truck over Devin White. There were several plays last week where Lazard stepped up and made a key block on an ILB to pop Jones for a few extra yards. Lazard IS the best blocking WR in the NFL right now. Hopefully he'll have a chance to put a few on White and David.

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murf7777's picture

September 25, 2022 at 10:42 am

NIck, both Jones and Dillon are very good up the middle. With the heat I expect a fairly even distribution and I’d love to see Dillon have a breakout game this time.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 25, 2022 at 12:59 pm

Keep running the two-back sets. Combinations with Deguara as a lead dog also help keep a hat on the LBs and makes them work to get to the ball carrier. Play-action will bee more effective and stretch them out into the hook zones and flats. A.Jones on the wheel routes vs David as long as the CBs are occupied on the WRs. Keep Tampa's defense on the field. Watch for Brate and the TE screen game. Savage has to show up.

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murf7777's picture

September 25, 2022 at 10:40 am

That might be exactly why Bak is returning, if he or Josh and play RT and you put Jenkins at Guard our interior looks much better. We must be able to get to the second level and block their talented ILB’s. I hope Lewis plays as he will be very important blocker in this game.

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Pdengerd73's picture

September 25, 2022 at 04:26 am

I can't stand Tom Brady!...being a buckeye fan!!...him playing for Michigan...he never had a chance with me...Bill Belichick being the coach of Cleveland Browns...I've never liked New England!...I've never been a bandwagon fan...Go Pack Go!!!

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 25, 2022 at 01:02 pm

Most fear their Masters. Change the storyline, beat him at his own game.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 25, 2022 at 08:27 am

Can administrator of this page put some blocks on sentences like: "I’m making $XXX per/hr" and as result of blocking that kind of sentence put delete order for the comment.

Or that is impossible?

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shmelbs's picture

September 25, 2022 at 10:46 am

Nothing is impossible if you just believe. And I believe this is just impossible.

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