By Matthew Asher
Even though Atlanta destroyed Tampa Bay back in Week 3, it’s never safe to assume the results will be the same in a rematch. It’s always tougher for the team that won the first time to repeat their success because the losing team should have a new game plan for the second game. During his Monday press conference, Mike Smith knows that the Week 3 game “is really going to have no bearing in what’s going to happen in this ball game. We’re two different football teams,” Smitty said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. They’ve shown improvement over the last two or three weeks.” With that in mind, here are three things Atlanta needs to focus on if they want a season sweep of the Buccaneers.
Key #1: Shut Down Gerald McCoy
As mentioned earlier this week, McCoy currently leads the Bucs defense with five of the team’s 13 total sacks to his credit. Smitty had nothing but praise for McCoy. “He’s a very explosive defensive lineman,” Smitty said. “It’s not that he’s going to lineup on one side, he moves. He’s their three technique; it’s going to be based on what we do formationally [sic], so both guards are going to get an opportunity to have to block him. But he is one of the most explosive guys in all the League.”
In Atlanta’s Week 3 blowout of the Bucs, McCoy didn’t play. This might be the X-Factor in this game because in just eight games, Ryan has been sacked 17 times so far, with 11 coming in just the last three games. Protecting Matty Ice must be at the top of Atlanta’s to-do list if they want to win their third game of the season.
Key #2: Pressure Mike Glennon
There are several reasons why the Falcons want to keep the Bucs quarterback on his toes at all times. The most obvious is anytime a quarterback is under pressure, the odds of him making mistakes increase exponentially. The other main reason is that only two of Tampa’s receivers, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, have done any real damage for the team. If Glennon doesn’t have time to go through his progressions, he may have to rely on a lot of quick passes to his tertiary targets which takes Evans and Jackson figuratively out of the game.
Key #3: Throw The Ball A Lot
This is one time where being a one-dimensional team may not be a bad thing. Tampa ranks second to last in the league in both total yards and passing yards allowed. While the Bucs rushing defense isn’t spectacular, it’s at least marginally better than their passing defense. On the flip side, Atlanta ranks in the top 10 in both total yards and passing yards gained. Atlanta’s running game is actually their weak spot on offense so if the Dirty Birds want to nearly abandon the running game in favor of airing it out, they shouldn’t hesitate at all.
Kickoff for the Week 10 game is scheduled for 1pm ET. #RiseUp
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.