Kicking off the 2021 season with a 32-6 home loss left a sour taste in the mouth of the Atlanta Falcons and their fan base. Of course, it is natural to want to get back on the field after a loss to capture the feeling of redemption. However, this upcoming week, wanting to redeem themselves means the Falcons will have to knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road. It is time to preview the week two contest between the Falcons and division foe Buccaneers.
Game: Falcons vs. Buccaneers
Location: Tampa, Florida
Time and television: Sept 19th, 4:05 p.m. EST, FOX
Key in-game matchup: Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees vs. Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
There is plenty of root here between these two, given connections that date back to 2004. That was a time in history when Pees himself became a member of the New England Patriots defensive coaching staff.
Pees has had an interesting time in matchups against Brady. In January 2020, a Pees-led Titans defense waltzed into the Gillette Stadium and gave Brady a loss in his last game in a Patriots uniform. A defeat to the tune of 209 yards and an interception along with a QBR of 59.4. In November of 2018, Brady was held in check in a road game against Tennessee and tossed for just 254 yards with a 51% completion percentage.
Bottling up Brady is a very complex task, but Pees has done it before. Whether or not he can create a little magic once again against a legendary quarterback like Brady is an aspect that can quite possibly dictate this game.
One key player to watch: Russell Gage
Gage entered this 2021 season with a very important role in this newly implemented offense. Last week against the Eagles, Gage only saw two total targets and did not record a reception. Facing a team the caliber of the Buccaneers require big plays to happen consistently.
In all likelihood, the Buccaneers will attempt to force the Falcons offense to look elsewhere besides receiver Calvin Ridley and tight end Kyle Pitts. That means the expectation level for Gage to be the second wide receiver has heightened a bit against the team such as the Buccaneers. If he can rise to the challenge, it will make a difference.
How can the Falcons win: Big plays and plenty of them
All three phases of the game needs to make a considerable impact for the Falcons, plain and simple. One notable missed opportunity and the Buccaneers are capable of taking advantage in a heartbeat. We saw how stagnant this Falcons team can be all around on last week when they can’t make plays, so it’s going to take a well-rounded and crisp effort from the Falcons in order to get the job done.
Getting Kyle Pitts open will matter. Springing holes for Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson will matter. A timely interception or overdue sack will make a big difference.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith blamed himself last week, saying that the lack of preparation cost the Falcons a win in the season opener. If there’s little or poor preparation once again, the Buccaneers will be able to end this one very early.