TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed to North Carolina this weekend to take on the Carolina Panthers for their first divisional matchup of the season.
The Bucs, who just came off a 20-18 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers, are continuing to search for what works best for them to be successful, even if it means making changes.
“We may have to change some things up here and there,” Bucs’ head coach Todd Bowles said. “Sometimes it’s the offensive line, sometimes it’s the route progression, sometimes it’s the quarterback, but we’re changing some things around and we’ll adjust to it.”
According to the Associated Press, Carolina’s Pro Bowl defensive end Brian Burns called Bucs quarterback Tom Brady the team’s “arch nemesis.” And for good reason. Since Brady joined the NFC South, he’s gone 4-0 against Carolina and is averaging 279 yards passing per game with eight touchdown passes and one interception while helping the Bucs outscore the Panthers 150-63.
However, this season has been a little different for Brady, who struggled to find the end zone against the Steelers and only recorded one touchdown, leaving a majority of the Bucs’ points to field goals.
Tampa Bay (3-3) enters Sunday’s game at division foe Carolina ranked 21st in offense, 20th in scoring and 32nd in rushing – some uncharacteristic stats for a Brady-led offense, AP wrote.
Following miscommunication and multiple penalties against the Steelers, Brady spend part of last Sunday angered at his offense and admitted the offense is far from a “finished product.”
After the Panthers (1-5) traded away their star running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers just days before the matchup, Burns is hoping they can take advantage of the Buccaneers.
“It’s always a good time to catch somebody when they are in shambles,” Burns said. “But I don’t think he will be in shambles by the time he gets here (to Carolina). I’m sure some adversity will hit during the game and maybe he might get into it, but it’s always a good time to catch somebody when they’re panicking.”
Burns is fully aware Brady remains a dangerous QB even at 45, particularly following a loss. The seven-time Super Bowl champion is 54-16 during his NFL career following a regular-season loss.
“He doesn’t like to lose twice in a row,” Burns said.
Brady said this week the Buccaneers need to find answers soon.
“We’re just not as good right now as we used to be, I guess. I don’t know. … (We’ve) just got to figure it out,” said Bucs’ wide receiver Mike Evans.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Bowles also stated that he was aware this Bucs team isn’t the same as it was from previous years.
“Obviously we have different players than last year and we have to approach things a little differently and find out what works best for us this year, not last year and two years ago. Lineups completely different, Gronk’s gone, AB’s gone, Marpet’s gone, Ryan’s down. We got different people to adjust to different things,” said Bowles.
The Buccaneers have 11 players currently listed on their injury report including tight end Cameron Brate, who exited last Sunday’s game after taking a hard hit. Brate had just returned from concussion protocol. Brate will be out for Sunday’s game.
Other players include:
- CB Carlton Davis – Questionable
- FS Mike Edwards – Questionable
- DE Logan Hall – N/A
- DE Aklem Hicks – Out
- WR Julio Jones – Out
- G Shaq Mason – Questionable
- CB Sean Murphy-Bunting – Out
- DT William Gholston – N/A
- ILB Lavonte David – N/A
- WR Mike Evans – N/A
For the Panthers, 14 players are listed on their injury report including starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, who hasn’t played in since Week 6. He is listed as doubtful.
Other players include:
- CB C.J. Henderson – Questionable
- CB Donte Jackson – Questionable
- ILB Cory Littleton – N/A
- DE Henry Anderson – N/A
- SAF Sean Chandler – Questionable
- CB Jaycee Horn – Questionable
- OLB Frankie Luvu – Questionable
- WR Laviska Shenault Jr. – Questionable
- C Pat Elflien – Questionable
- DT Matthew Ioannidis – Doubtful
- OT Taylor Moton – Questionable
- RB Raheem Blackshear – N/A
- Derrick Brown – N/A
HOW TO WATCH
The Panthers vs. Buccaneers game will kickoff at 1 p.m. ET at the Bank of America Stadium in North Carolina. Fans can watch the game live on FOX.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.