Like Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ offense, Tom Brady and Co. struggled out of the gate when the teams met in Week 3. Unlike Los Angeles, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn’t get out of their slump in time and lost control by the third quarter.
The Rams defense prioritizes off zone coverage so they can keep plays in front of them and swarm to the football. This minimizes quick scores and easy chunk plays over the middle while forcing offenses to sustain drives.
LA executed their game-plan to near-perfection in the first matchup, consistently taking away Brady’s crossing routes and forcing throws underneath.
The Buccaneers' offense will need a very different performance from what they put on tape in that game, which won’t be easy without star receiver Chris Godwin to chip in for critical moments.
However, there were also positives from the last game that could carry over into Sunday’s contest, particularly the use of Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski.
Here’s how Brady and the Buccaneers managed to generate big plays against a stingy Rams defense, and what they could repeat in Round 2.
The only time Tampa Bay managed to take the top off of LA’s secondary came late in the 3rd quarter with Tampa Bay down 17 points. Safety Taylor Rapp flipped his hips inside with Godwin streaking down the middle, so Brady looked to the sideline and delivered a perfect pass between defenders.
Though the Bucs couldn’t get behind the Rams’ secondary, they did manage to exploit LA’s soft coverage later in the game for big plays.
The first time Brady went downfield successfully against the Rams in Week 3 was on a play-action crosser to Gronkowski that was actually well-defended.
Brady squeezed the football into some tight windows down the seams, and 12 won’t shy away from those opportunities in Round 2, but Tampa may lean toward higher-percentage throws this time around.
Brady also started pressing mismatches to Mike Evans against LA corners not named Jalen Ramsey, who proved his mettle early by shutting down a fade attempt.
Though the Rams’ corners respectably didn’t shy away from the challenge, Evans used his physicality and savvy to win at the top, consistently separating on curls and outs downfield.
The Rams won’t make throwing over the middle easy for Brady and the Bucs, but focusing on the gimme throws offered by the Rams’ scheme could lead to a potentially quicker start and different outcome in Round 2.
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