The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line Must Contain Everson Griffen
The juicy matchup in Week three is the Buccaneers receivers against the Vikings secondary. They are both loaded with star power and depth. Minnesota’s defensive back Tramaine Brock has missed the last two games with a groin injury and is uncertain to play. However, the game will likely be decided at the line of scrimmage where the Vikings have a significant advantage.
Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter are the best pair of defensive ends in the league. Griffen is looking to challenge for the league’s sack crown. He has three take downs already in just two games and they came against two of the better offensive lines in the league. Griffen got a sack against Drew Brees, although it did come after right tackle Zach Strief left the game in the second quarter with an injury.
However, Griffen left no doubt against the Steelers after sacking Ben Roethlisberger two times. Griffen has posted double digit sacks in two of the last three years. He is coming off of his best season in 2016 where he had eight sacks and three fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown. In Week three Griffen will face Demar Dotson.
After two promising seasons to begin his career, Barr had a relatively down season according to Pro Football Focus. However, Barr has the talent to be better and he’s off to a an active start with 11 solo tackles through two games. Barr suffered a hamstring injury against the Steelers so he could be limited if he plays.
Left tackle Donovan Smith also has lots to prove in 2017. It will be his third season with the Buccaneers and according to Pro Football Focus, Smith struggled with pass protection last year. Smith did well last week against the Bears. He mainly went up against Akiem Hicks, who did have seven sacks last season. But Hicks played just 49 snaps in the game and he’s not Hunter, who is also entering just his third season.
Hunter has barely scratched the surface at age 22, but he has gotten off to a slow start this season with just five assisted tackles. He posted six sacks as a rookie in 2015 and finished third in the NFL last season with 12.5 sacks. He also had a 24-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
This week rookie tight end O.J. Howard gets his first opportunity to show what kind of blocker he can be as he tries to assist Smith.
The Buccaneers were tied for 12th in the league with 35 sacks allowed last season. The Vikings were fourth in the league at getting to the quarterback with 41 sacks.
The Bucs offensive line must contain Griffen and protect Jameis Winston this week if they want to move to 2-0 on the season.