The Falcons aren’t known for their ferocious pass rush, but expect them to harass Jameis Winston all game long on Sunday.
Jameis Winston is happy to be back in the Buccaneers’ starting lineup, but he’s going to pay for the privilege on Sunday. The Falcons are going to break the heat early and often against the talented, but erratic signal caller.
The logic for Atlanta is pretty simple. They come into this game short several key pieces in their secondary. Injuries to Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen have robbed Dan Quinn of his top two safeties. That’s left the Falcons susceptible to the deep ball in recent weeks.
That’s exactly the sort of pass Winston would like to throw. As such, it’s imperative for the Falcons defense to prevent him from getting into a rhythm. Part of their plan will be to disguise coverages as much as possible. Their lack of talent in the final third of the field will limit that tactic’s effectiveness.
That’s why you should expect to see the Falcons blitz Winston early and often. It’s going to leave them open to some big plays down the field, but their personnel makes that inevitable. Quinn will look to use his pass rush as a way to create as many big plays as his defense might give up.
The two guys you should really keep an eye on are Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett. Beasley had a massive 2016 season but is maddeningly inconsistent. Look for him to use his speed to get around the Buccaneers’ tackles on multiple occasions on Sunday. It won’t be a surprise to see him notch multiple sacks in this one.
Jarrett’s effect on the game will be a little more subtle. It’s his job to push the middle of the Buccaneers offensive line back into their quarterback’s face. Jarrett needs to be concerned with collapsing the pocket to give his teammates better opportunities to sack Winston. If he plays too selfishly, it could really disrupt Quinn’s scheme.
In the end, expect to see a fair amount of points for both teams. We know Matt Ryan is going to hit some big plays against this porous Buccaneers defense, but Winston is going to get some shots in as well. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, their quarterback is going to take more shots than he can dish out. Count on Winston to finish this game battered, bruised, and suffering from a loss.