Happy Wednesday, Broncos Country.
The Denver Broncos will head on the road to Raymond James Stadium to take on the Tampa Buccaneers this weekend. The vaunted No Fly Zone has done an incredible job limiting the big play ability of three of the NFL's best quarterbacks in Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton through the first three weeks, but their biggest test of the season could be this Sunday when they challenge promising Buccaneers' second-year leader Jameis Winston.
In their first three games, the Buccaneers have thrown the ball a lot. It's what Head Coach Dirk Koetter loves to do. Winston has attempted 142 passes thus far, with a 60.6 percent completion percentage, along with 929 yards, 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Those are impressive stats for the second-year signal caller out of Florida State, who had another impressive performance last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
Facing the Broncos defense will be Winston's biggest challenge of the season, but players have taken notice to Winston's big play ability and are preparing diligently to ensure he doesn't succeed in an all out aerial assault this weekend.
"Just from casually watching him, he’s a competitor, for sure," stated Broncos veteran strong safety T.J. Ward. "He makes plays. He extends plays pretty well and he can get the ball anywhere on the field. That’s what I think he does best in his game."
Second-year pass rusher Shane Ray is quite familiar with Winston and both were selected in the first-round of the draft two years ago. He knows what Winston is capable of and is eager to put his premier pass rushing abilities on display for a second week in a row, after terrorizing Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for three sacks last weekend.
"I’ve been watching Jameis since college so I know the kind of player that he is. He makes good throws. The thing with him is keeping him in the pocket as well," said Ray.
"It’s a good thing and a bad thing, we want him to scramble because I feel like he throws into a lot of traffic, but at the same time, you don’t want him to sit and plant his feet and make his correct reads. It’s kind of a double-headed thing. We just have to keep pressure," Ray added.
Ray's absolutely right. If the Broncos want to have success against Winston and the Buccaneers' offense — they will certainly have to turn up the heat and bring as much pressure on him as possible. Expect Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to come up with a creative game plan that attempts to rattle the young quarterback as much as possible, both physically and mentally.
Winston is a smart, cerebral quarterback and though his aggressiveness down the field has led to some mistakes (see the Arizona Cardinals game two weeks ago), he can make all the throws on the field and create impact plays at any time. By limiting Winston's efficiency this weekend, the Broncos will have a great shot of remaining undefeated and bringing their overall record to 4-0.
It's definitely doable, but they will have to be firing on all cylinders to make it happen. The team has a history of struggling in Florida on the road early in the NFL season and now isn't the time to sleep on Winston and the Buccaneers.
As always, thank you for reading and here is today's offering of Horse Tracks.
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