The Eagles head into their Thursday Night Football clash hoping to make it two wins in the space of five days against NFC South opponents. However, there is one large obstacle in their way, the reigning and defending Super Bowl champs. Tampa Bay have had a solid start to the season, even with their defense and secondary being decimated. This will be another tough matchup for Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts as they hope to continue their growth as a pairing.
Season so far
The Bucs have started their 2021 season strongly, with the only blemish being a defeat to the Rams in LA. Bar that one loss, Tampa Bay enter Week Six with a 4-1 record, and Tom Brady being in the MVP conversation. The Bucs electric and lethal offense has put up 40+ points on two occasions already this season and scored 31 against the Cowboys. Brady has also thrown for five touchdowns twice and four in the win over Dallas. Having thrown for 15 touchdowns already this season, it is evident that the 44-year-old is not slowing down anytime soon. With the way he is leading the Bucs offense, Jonathan Gannon is going to have to hope that Darius Slay and co have an even better game than the one they produced in Carolina on Sunday.
In their last outing, the Bucs slaughtered the Miami Dolphins 45-17. Brady was the star of the show as he threw for 400+ yards and five touchdowns. Both Mike Evans and Antonio Brown had 100+ yards receiving and two touchdowns, making it evident that they have now become TB12's new favourite targets. Despite their problems at cornerback and safety, the Tampa Bay defense held the Dolphins to just 275 yards passing and under 40 rushing yards. They will be heading into the game in Philly with plenty of confidence.
The Biggest Threat- Bucs defensive line
That Bucs front seven is just scary. Even without Lavonte David playing behind the defensive line, they will be a problem in Philly. The Eagles offensive line is banged up already, and Jack Driscoll is expected to be starting at right tackle on Thursday night, so it will see an inexperienced offensive line take on one of the most experienced and talented defensive lines in the entirety of the NFL. They may have only picked up three sacks in their win over Miami, but that defensive line does so much more than pressure the quarterback. It makes the opposing run game a non-factor. In their four wins this season, the opposing offense has not generated a 50-yard rusher. That is the impact the Bucs defensive line has on games, they force offenses to become one dimensional, and in turn, will also help their struggling secondary. Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, Willie Gholston, Shaq Barrett, JPP and Joe Tryon Shoyinka will all be names that are heard on the TV tonight. If the Eagles offensive line comes into the game struggling from the start, it could be a long night for Jalen Hurts and co.
What to Target- Bucs decimated secondary
It has already been highlighted, but the Buccaneers will be without Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Antoine Winfield Jr, all key pieces in the team that led the Bucs to the Super Bowl. The lack of quality depth at the position makes it the easiest area for the Eagles to target. Throwing towards the wide areas of the field is what Jalen Hurts does well, and with the quality of their linebackers, it becomes understandable for the Eagles to feed the ball to their receivers. They have thrown the ball on plenty of occasions already this season, so it will be nothing new for this offense. Devonta Smith could have another big game, having had 199 receiving yards in his last two games. Quez Watkins' big-play ability will hopefully be on full display as he will be vital in opening up the passing game. Despite his struggles, Jalen Reagor will be hoping to have a good night, and the Eagles will need him to have one if they are to keep up with Tampa Bay. There will be one thorn in the side of this plan though, with Richard Sherman now being the number one cornerback for the Bucs. Expect him to shadow Smith all afternoon, thus forcing Hurts to potentially focus on feeding the ball to Reagor and Watkins.