One thing Joe learned listening to former NFL suit Michael Lombardi is that in the playoffs, it’s not so much about this player vs. that player or head coach vs. head coach.
Instead, it’s coordinator vs. coordinator.
And it seems from reading Derrik Klassen of Football Outsiders, there is a wonderful chess match brewing between Bucs coach Todd Bowles (who still runs the defense) and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Now everyone may think Bucs corner Carlton Davis will be matched up on CeeDee Lamb. Davis has a knack for taking out other teams’ No. 1 receivers and Lamb is clearly the best Cowboys receiver.
Dallas has a decent No. 2 receiver in Michael Gallup. But, as Klassen points out, Gallup is easily shut down by physical corners. Davis is a physical corner.
The Bucs should aim to do something similar to Gallup. Cornerback Carlton Davis, though less than 100% as he comes off a shoulder injury, is a press savant. He’s a long, physical player built perfectly for this moment against this receiver. Tampa Bay’s other cornerbacks are chippy, too. It will be tough for Gallup to escape tight coverage no matter whom he gets matched up against.
The other Bucs starting corner, Jamel Dean, has had a very nice season, his best since being drafted in 2019. Has Dean had a good enough season that Bowles can trust him to man-up on Lamb? Joe doesn’t know the answer to that.
If the Bucs think Dean is up to the task, then Bowles could put Davis on Gallup and take him out.
It’s hard to score points in the NFL when you have only one receiver.
This content was originally published here.