Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. St. Louis Rams: Breaking Down St. Louis' Game Plan

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIDecember 19, 2013

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 23:  Defensive back Trumaine Johnson #22 of the St. Louis Rams breaks up a pass intended for receiver Mike Williams #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Darrelle Revis presents less of a schematic challenge to the St. Louis Rams than he does to most other teams in the NFL.

That’s because most other teams have a wide receiver leading them in receiving yards. The Rams have a tight end filling that role: Jared Cook. Two tight ends that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have faced this year also lead their respective teams in receiving. Both are in their division: Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen.

Those two guys accounted for two of the six touchdowns that Tampa Bay has allowed to the position this year, and Graham threw 10 catches for 179 yards in for good measure. If Cook is being featured on Sunday as a primary pass-catcher, he should be able to cash in a score.

And yet, the Buccaneers are two weeks removed from a five-game stretch in which they allowed 68 catches for 904 yards and nine touchdowns to wideouts. Their 17 receiving scores allowed to wideouts are just two behind the most in the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles).

Chris Givens
Chris GivensScott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe now is the time for Chris Givens to score his first TD of the year. He leads the Rams in 20-yard catches, and his longest is 47 yards, but the sophomore has yet to find the end zone. He (17.03) and Brian Quick (17.88) average more than 17 yards per catch, so don't be surprised if Kellen Clemens lets one rip down the field to one of them.

Taking a deep shot might be the way to attack Tampa Bay's safeties, Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, who are both known as hard hitters. Trying to beat those guys in space could get your block knocked off, but the Rams could try for a defensive pass interference flag by airing it out.

St. Louis will need to score via the air, as Tampa Bay has only allowed six rushing touchdowns this season—and four of those came from quarterbacks.

The Rams' two main areas of focus defensively will be wide receiver Vincent Jackson and running back Bobby Rainey. Fortunately for St. Louis, Jackson is the only Buccaneer to amass more than 500 receiving yards (1,091), four touchdowns (seven) or six catches of greater than 20 yards (17) in 2013.

Clearly, Tampa Bay's passing attack revolves around the 6'5" receiver, and Jeff Fisher needs to take him away. Look for Trumaine Johnson to be matched up on Jackson, with some help from his friends more often than not.

The secret to containing the Bucs' run game is the same as usual for St. Louis: stay disciplined in gaps; don't spread the defensive line too far or too frequently; and get sure tackles from all 11 guys on the field, but especially the defensive backs.

In 119 career carries, Rainey has already shown off his breakaway speed. The Rams don't want to give him another opportunity to do so simply because of poor tackling.

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