The Chargers (1-2) are coming off a two-game losing streak, and it doesn't get easier when they travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers (2-1). The offense gets most of the recognition, but it is the defense that the Bolts need to worry about on Sunday.
The Bucs have numerous playmakers all over the field, but especially on their front seven. Disciplined has not been a word to describe the Bolts offense as of late, but Todd Bowles's defense will make them pay if they aren't, especially with players like linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White.
The Chargers offense will need to do the following if they are to pull off the upset.
- Avoid mistakes
For the last two games, the Chargers have been making costly mistakes. Whether it is turnovers (five in the previous two games), or penalties are silly mistakes that have cost them two victories. In the last two games, teams have scored 20 points off of turnovers. The Bucs offense will make the Chargers pay as the Chiefs and Panthers did. In three games this season, Tampa Bay's defense has secured six turnovers and scored 29 points off turnovers. The Chargers offense, no matter who the starting quarterback is, must take care of the ball and avoid mistakes if the team is to try and turn the season around.
2. The offensive line must hold up.
The offensive line has dictated each outcome so far this season. Against the Cincinnati Bengals, they played well and kept the pocket relatively clean. When they faced Kansas City, they struggled at times but gave rookie quarterback Justin Herbert time. Last week, against the Panthers, he was under duress most of the game and took some bad hits. It hasn't helped that right tackle Bryan Bulaga and right guard Trai Turner have been dealing with nagging injuries. This weekend they face Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, Shaqil Barrett, and Jason Pierre-Paul. They are going to have their hands full. The Bolts will need Bulaga and Turner healthy to play in this game, or things could get difficult for Herbert or Tyrod Taylor. The Bucs have sacked the quarterback 12 times in three games.
3. Change up the offensive scheme.
Anthony Lynn wants to run the football to open up the passing game. Before last Sunday, the offense was running the ball 57percent of the time while throwing it 43 percent. This weekend running the ball will be a difficulty because of the defense they are facing. Tampa has only allowed 70 rushing yards per game, which is the third best in the NFL. They are also 14th in the NFL, allowing 237.7 passing yards per game. It may be hard to run the ball the way they have been just straight up the middle and gaps, especially if Turner and Bulaga can't go. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen has to get creative with the offense this week and try to throw some pre-snap motion, maybe running back Austin Ekeler going in motion and giving him the handoff to throw the Bucs off. That was very successful for them in 2018 when they made the playoffs. There is a possibility that they will be without receiver Mike Williams, so creativity makes keep the Chargers in the game against one of the more talented defenses they will face this season.