Buc Up…with Rob Kriete – OCTOBER 3

-Mike Evans had a quirky, productive line in the box score from last week’s game at Denver: Two catches, for two yards, and two TDs!

-Leo Haggerty of ItsSportsMagazine.com joined me at the Coach Arians presser this week and asked if there is a way to line up WR Mike Evans to avoid him being double teamed as frequently as he has. Coach replied, “No, not really. It’s situational that some people are going to bracket him high, low, inside [and] out. It’s nothing new, so it’s just a matter of just keep fighting and when you do get single coverage, get him the ball.”

-The Los Angeles Chargers come to Tampa this weekend with a struggling rookie QB, Justin Herbert and a losing record. The Charger offense, though, is led by Austin Ekeler who catches as many passes as he gets carries. The Bucs defense will be keyed in on him throughout the matchup.

-Joey Bosa, DE, leads the Los Angeles defense and has 3 sacks in the first three games.

-I’m still not sure why the San Diego Chargers are now in Los Angeles and the Los Angles Raiders of Oakland are in Las Vegas. Billionaire shell game?

-Shaquil Barrett continues to be a beast on defense for Tampa Bay while being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week with three tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, while also recording six total tackles and a safety. His three tackles for loss tied for the most by any player in the NFL in Week 3, and his safety was the first for Tampa Bay since 2016.

Nov 10, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Fans celebrate the success of Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) during an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers beat the Cardinals 30-27. (Steve Jacobson)

-The Bucs defense is tied for 4th in the NFL by allowing only 308 total yards allowed per game. According to Bruce Arians, “We built this team on defense-Tom Brady was just the icing on the cake.”

-Looks like Buccaneer offense stalwarts, Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin, will be out for Sunday’s home game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

-Tampa TE, Rob Gronkowski has 5 career TDs in 4 games against the Chargers. I expect more of what we saw from him last week and he continues to become more comfortable in the Buccaneer offense. Quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski have connected for 78 touchdowns in the regular season and need 1 more to match NFL Hall-of-Famer, Dan Marino, and Mark Clayton for the fourth-most touchdown connections in NFL history.

-Leo also caught up with OJ Howard this week asking him, “In reality, this is the 3rd game of the exhibition season for your body. Are you just winding into football shape?” OJ responded, “Oh no, I’m good. I think, that down here in Tampa, you are going to get into shape before you even know it. The way we go through training camp and the way we go through practice and how many plays we get in on our team per day here at training camp, you are going to have no choice but to get in shape. So, I’m feeling really well. I think I’m in tip-top shape. I’m ready for any type of weather. I’m ready for any type of condition to play as many snaps as I need to.”

Finally, a limited number of fans will be allowed at the RayJay today.  Look for a little more emotion from the players now that there are bodies in the seats to cheer and jeer.

-Thank you to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the use of the pictures included in this column.

-Prediction of the Week: Bucs 34 – Chargers 17