Special to Sports Talk Florida
Alright Buccaneer fans, the time has finally come! The 2021 NFL is upon us. Your Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start this new season as the reigning champions. This team, led by quarterback Tom Brady, is looking to do what only a handful of teams have done… repeat as champions.
This season we will take a weekly look at each game, and things to look out for during each matchup. The Buccaneers will open the NFL season on Thursday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys.
Battle at the bookends
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense was objectively bad last season. They boasted the 28th ranked defense in the league. Not great, but they do boast an above-average defensive end in DeMarcus Lawrence. He had a somewhat down year last year but he led his team in sacks last year with 6.5 takedowns. Lawrence plays on either side of the defensive line, so he will see plenty of both tackles in Tampa.
We will see if both Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs can pick up where they left off last year. Wirfs was in his first year but immediately lived up to his first-round status, allowing only one sack all season. Smith, on the blindside, will be a bigger target for the Cowboys in Week one. He has been a thorn in most Buccaneer fan’s sides with his play and remains a questionable starter on the line. He allowed 6 of the 21 sacks on Tom Brady.
Young Trios in the Spotlight
Both teams have a young trio of players that have shown plenty of promise last year. Luckily for football fans, those trios will square off all game. Dallas employs three young talented wideouts in Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. All three can turn one routine play into an explosive play.
The Buccaneers have a trio of their own that helped secure the second Lombardi trophy in team history. In Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Jamel Dean, the Buccaneers have a trio of cornerbacks that will attempt to shut down Dallas’ receivers. All three had impact plays throughout the 2020 season, and postseason, that propelled the team to the Super Bowl. Davis is looking to prove that he is a top corner in the league and week one gives him a prime opportunity to show his stuff.
The Lights are Bright
Last season ended in the best way possible for Tampa Bay. The regular season had plenty of ugly moments though, especially on primetime. With a 1-3 record in the four primetime games last year, the team gave NFL fans pause. Many didn’t think this team could accomplish what they did in the playoffs because of the poor showings on the national stage.
Thursday night is the first of five primetime games. Look for the narrative to change as they look to beat America’s Team in front of the country.