If you are a fan of high-flying prolific offenses that light up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree, you might not want to tune into the Los Angeles Rams visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday. Points will be at a premium when these two NFC opponents face off in the Florida heat. The Rams haven't scored a touchdown all season and have a total of nine points in two games.
At least the Buccaneers started the year off right as they looked like a Jon Gruden-coached club in Week 1, putting up 31 points in a major NFC South win over the Atlanta Falcons. Then quarterback Jameis Winston and his squad faced the buzz-saw that is the Arizona Cardinals and got trounced 40-7. Winston threw four interceptions.
“It's a humbling league. We got beat up all over the field. Hats off to the Cardinals for a job well done. I didn't a good enough job getting these guys ready to go. We turned it over way, way too many times,” said Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter.
Tampa Bay's head coach acknowledged the offense has not been clicking, especially Winston and wide receiver Vincent Jackson. In the first two weeks, Jackson has just six catches for 62 yards despite being targeted 17 times. And now starting running back Doug Martin could be out for an extended period of time with a hamstring injury. Martin's loss puts even more emphasis on the passing attack of the Buccaneers finding the right chemistry.
Both teams are 1-1 yet neither organization has figured out their identity heading into Week 3 of the 2016 NFL season. The Rams have major questions at the quarterback position even if head coach Jeff Fisher will not admit them.
“Well he (Rams starting quarterback Case Keenum) bounced back. He had a good week, came back and made plays. That's a tough defense to attack and throw against. You know, we had some drops nonetheless, but he put the ball where it needed to be put. The last play to (wide receiver) Kenny (Britt) was a great throw — great anticipation, great throw,” said Fisher of his embattled starter. The media and fans have been adamant about the Rams starting 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff since Los Angeles has not scored a touchdown this season.
“Anybody that knows this game would be concerned about not scoring touchdowns, now come on. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but we need to score some touchdowns. But I'll take this win, winning and then some. So if we take anything away from this week, that's what we got to do. We got to keep working on it someway somehow, whether it's special teams or defense, but I'll take a touchdown next week. That would be cool,” Fisher said as the team faces the Buccaneers in Week 3.
Fisher may get his wish. The Buccaneers defense, which was not very good under fired head coach Lovie Smith, has struggled in 2016 as well. Only the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars have given up as many points (64).
Both teams could be a remedy for the others' ills. The lack of offense by the Rams could help the Buccaneers defense or vice versa. A lackluster Los Angeles offensive unit could find solace in attacking a below-average Tampa Bay defensive group.
This then leaves the game primarily in the hands of which Buccaneers offense against which Rams defense shows up. Los Angeles, led by middle linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive end Robert Quinn, held the Seattle Seahawks to a field goal in their Week 2 win at home. This was after giving up 28 points to the San Francisco 49ers in a Week 1 loss.
The Buccaneers offense installed by head coach Dirk Koetter was flying high in Week 1 in which the offense accounted 371 net yards. Quarterback Jameis Winston threw for four touchdowns. The offensive line gave up zero sacks vs. the Falcons. On the road in Arizona for Week 2, Tampa Bay was shut out in the first half, Winston threw four interceptions and the offensive line gave up three sacks.
Said Koetter, “I expect and want to see fantastic resiliency. If you just look around the league, that's how the NFL is. The Cardinals had a disappointing loss, and they came back and got after us pretty good yesterday.
“Look at the Rams, who we play this week. The Rams lost 28-0 in their opener to the 49ers, come back with a huge win against Seattle. The Falcons, who we beat last week, go on the road to the Raiders who were a hot team and play well enough to get a big win on the road.”
As both head coaches have preached this week, depending on which Buccaneers or Rams team shows up will determine the outcome of this NFC showdown.