As Nick Sirianni prepares his Eagles offense to take on a stout Tampa Bay defense, there’s no doubt that he’ll be looking to air it out early and often in this contest. Not only because that’s his M.O., but because the Buccaneers have one of the worst pass defenses in all of football.
“But I thought you said they have a ‘stout’ defense?”
They do, when defending the run. Tampa Bay has allowed just 229 yards on the ground this year, the lowest mark in the league and the only defense to allow under 300 through five games. 2.9 yards per attempt allowed and just one rushing touchdown speaks to how good they are along the line and at linebacker.
But their secondary is a different story.
The Bucs have given up 1,572 passing yards this season, the most of any defense in the NFL. They’ve given up 13 touchdowns through the air, third-most in the league. And they’ve allowed a whopping 81 first downs through the air, also most in the league.
Even in the efficiency metrics, Tampa Bay has struggled. They’ve allowed a completion percentage of 72.8% this year. And while they try their best to get after the quarterback, sending extra rushers on 40.2% of their defensive snaps (the highest blitz rate in the NFL), they’ve only tallied 10 sacks and they’ve posted a pressure rate of 22.2% along with a quarterback hurry rate of 7.1%, both ranking in the bottom third of the league.
Jalen Hurts and his Eagles offense have actually been pretty proficient moving the ball through the air this year. He’s thrown for 1,281 yards, 12th-highest in the league. He’s completed 64.8% of his passes along with tossing seven touchdowns.
The key for offensive success in this one is quite simple. Sirianni needs to scheme up high percentage throws for Hurts to get him into a rhythm, and Hurts needs to find ways to get the ball into the end zone. The game plan against Tampa should look a lot like the game plan against Kansas City a few weeks ago.
Don’t expect Sirianni to dial up many running plays. There’s sure to be several screens, RPO passes, and quick hitting routes to get his play makers in space.
If Sirianni and Co. do this, they should be able to move the ball and put points up against Tom Brady. Scoring touchdowns and keeping Brady off the field with long, methodical drives is the name of the game for this contest. And the Eagles are certainly capable of pulling it off.
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