The Buccaneers might be better suited for that win, and it’s not just home-field advantage that could tip the scales.
The Chiefs are preparing this week in practice to start their backup quarterback, Brady Quinn, because starter Matt Cassel suffered a concussion against the Baltimore Ravens. Sunday could be Quinn’s first start since Week 15 of the 2009 season, when he was still with Cleveland.
That alone could be a scale-tipping situation. The fact that Kansas City’s only real strength—its running game—is also Tampa Bay’s biggest strength on defense also shows promise that the Buccaneers have the upper hand.
Here’s how Tampa Bay should draw up a game plan for Kansas City.
Find Ways to Help Ted Larson
The Chiefs may try to find ways to exploit an area of weakness on Tampa Bay’s line—the right guard.
While head coach Greg Schiano hasn’t announced a change, WTSP 10 News reported that Jeremy Trueblood may be close to working his way into replacing Ted Larson, who has started the first four games at right guard.
Look for Kansas City to use some stunting to get a defensive end on Larson (or Trueblood) just like the Dallas Cowboys did in Week 3.
On this play, backup defensive end Sean Lissemore is going to use Demar Dotson as a moving screen to peel Larson off contact:
With Dotson engaged in a block and Larson slowed behind the stunting DeMarcus Ware, Lissemore easily sneaks around and has a free shot at Josh Freeman.
Freeman took the hit but got the ball away quicker than Lissemore could arrive.
This is how Kansas City could wreak havoc on Freeman Sunday. Tampa Bay needs to help Larson in some way.
Get to the QB
Cassel will not play on Sunday, according to the Kansas City Star. Even though it’s Quinn under center, or maybe even because it’s Quinn, the Buccaneers must disrupt the passer.
Cassel’s thrown nine interceptions and fumbled six times this year already. But Kansas City’s offensive line isn’t all to blame. They’ve allowed seven sacks (11th in NFL), and according to Pro Football Focus (paywall), 32 hurries (18th). That’s not stellar pass protection by any stretch of the imagination, but there are quarterbacks in the league who have been hurried more and have turned the ball over less.
According to Pro Football Focus (paywall), in 2009 when Quinn took 280 passing snaps, he was terribly inaccurate. He went 29-of-68 and took 18 sacks. His 42.6-percent completion rate while under pressure ranked him 24th in the NFL among passers who played 25 percent of the teams passing snaps.
The place to attack Quinn is through right tackle Eric Winston, who has allowed more pressure on Cassel this year than any other offensive lineman on the roster.
Tampa Bay defensive end Michael Bennett will line up over Winston, which creates the battle to watch in the trenches. Bennett leads the defense with four sacks and has been far and away the best on the Bucs defensive line at getting to the quarterback.
Slow Down Jamaal Charles
Jamaal Charles leads the NFL with 551 rushing yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He’s gone for more than 100 yards twice in the four games he’s played complete games and was limited against Buffalo with a sore knee, which makes his league-leading 551 more impressive since he only carried the ball six times in Week 2.
Stopping Charles seems like a lost cause, but the Buccaneers can surely slow him down. Tampa Bay ranks fourth in the NFL against the run and allows just 73.8 yards per game. Charles averages 110.2 yards per game (including Week 2, when he rushed for three yards). This will truly be a power versus power situation that the Buccaneers need to control.
Linebackers Mason Foster and Lavonte David are No. 1 and 2, respectively, in tackling on the Bucs defense. Quincy Black ranks eighth on the team. The linebacking corps will be important Sunday, because Foster and David will be instrumental in helping to contain Charles. If they can limit Charles, especially on first down, it will create long-yardage situations on second and third down for Quinn.
There’d be nothing better for the Buccaneers than limiting Charles and forcing Kansas City’s second-string quarterback to win the game.