Ahead of this week’s matchup, we talked to Gil Arcia at Bucs Nation to try to figure out what to anticipate from this matchup. The Buccaneers may have a better record, but as you’ll see below, Arcia’s not exactly effusive about this team’s fortunes at the moment.
Dave Choate: Jameis Winston is back and he’s traditionally destroyed the Falcons. Given the state of this Atlanta defense, will he do so again on Sunday?
Gil Arcia: I don’t think “destroyed” would be the right word. I feel Winston is a different quarterback, but in a good way. He’ll have a good game, manage the offense a bit better than in years past from a clock control perspective. But it’ll only be as good as the offensive game plan is.
Dave Choate: What’s going on with Ronald Jones? Is he on the cusp of being a piece of this offense, or is he effectively mothballed for his rookie season?
Gil Arcia: It sure looked that way heading into Week 4. The team was concerned with him with understanding the playbook and his skills in pass protection. But when he came in against the Bears, he actually played decent, all things considered. He turned a couple negative runs into something and didn’t do too bad against Khalil Mack twice in pass protection, which is an accomplishment.
Aside from his drop in the second quarter from his first target out of the back field, Jones was decent and should be okay moving forward.
Dave Choate: The defense has been problematic for Tampa Bay, obviously, which is something we Falcons fans are also getting accustomed to. Where are the biggest trouble spots for Atlanta to exploit, and do they have any hope of shutting down Atlanta?
Gil Arcia: Any. Spot. On. The. Defense. Right now, the Bucs defense is horrible. From scheme to missed assignments, Matt Ryan should have no troubles on Sunday. The most frustrating part is when the Bucs apply pressure to the quarterback, the secondary fails. When there is good coverage, the pass rush fails. The Bucs are good against the run.
If Atlanta wants to pass the ball 60 times with zero runs, they can. Ryan will probably complete 80+ percent of his passes anyways. So no. I have no faith in the Bucs defense stopping Ryan and I’d be surprised if they did.
Dave Choate: Are Dirk Koetter or Mike Smith (or both) on the hot seat this year? Are the Bucs going to clean house if the season really goes south, or are they committed to seeing this one through with the talent in-house?
Gil Arcia: Mike Smith should have been on the hot seat last season. And for not forcing defensive changes, Koetter should be on the hot seat by default. Koetter is loyal to his friend, that’s great. But his friend is ultimately deciding his fate. If the Buccaneers fail this season then there should definitely be changes. Talent is being wasted at the hands of this coaching staff.
Dave Choate: Who wins this game, and how does this Tampa Bay season end up?
Gil Arcia: Atlanta will win the game and it won’t be because of the Bucs offense, but rather the defense’s inability to stop anyone. As for the season, it’s hard to say after just four games. However, if the defense continues on their road to failure, the season is done for.