After a two-game road trip and a bye week, the Washington Football Team returns to FedExField for the first time in nearly a month to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here are three players who could have pivotal roles.
It's a guarantee that Tampa Bay is going to emphasize containing Terry McLaurin in any way possible. He is Washington's best receiver in terms of yards (573), targets (76) and receptions (43).
With all the attention on McLaurin, there should be opportunities for the rest of Washington's receiving corps to step up. Adam Humphries, who has taken on a more active role while Dyami Brown, Cam Sims and Curtis Samuel have missed time, will likely be relied on once again.
Humphries was efficient catching the ball in the first half of the season with a catch rate of 69%. His 11 yards per reception are also second behind McLaurin among Washington receivers with at least 20 receptions. Half of his total production this season (220 yards) has come after the catch as well.
Eleven of Humphries' 20 receptions have resulted in first downs, so if Washington needs a play to help it keep the chains moving, it count on Humphries to deliver.
Tampa Bay's defense is a formidable unit once again this year, and it has emerged as one of the league's best against the run. The Bucs' defensive unit allows just 78 yards per game, thanks to performances from Devin White (61 tackles) and Lavonte David (42). What's more, offenses are held to just 3.9 yards per carry, and the Buccaneers have given up just 624 rushing yards all year (ranked second in the league).
Washington is going to have to look for other ways to get production from its running backs. Enter J.D. McKissic. The sixth-year pro has shown he can be a potent all-purpose weapon, but his ability as a pass-catcher has proven to be the most valuable so far. He is third among running backs in receiving yards, and he's been Taylor Heinicke’s favorite target outside of Terry McLaurin. And Washington has already seen how effective he can be with receptions against the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons.
With the Buccaneers being so stingy on the ground, having McKissic gives Washington another option to help its offense stay on the field.
On Tuesday, Washington announced the signing of kicker Joey Slye after released Chris Blewitt. Slye, who has been in the NFL since 2019, has kicked for three other teams. The former Virginia Tech Hokie is 88% on extra points and 80% on field goal attempts.
It's a fact that Tampa Bay has the NFL's most efficient offense when it comes to putting up points. The Tom Brady-led offense averages 30.2 points per game, more than any other team in the NFL. Washington has struggled in recent weeks to score in the red zone with six trips without a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos. With that in mind, Washington is going to need to take points whenever it can get them in order to keep up with Tampa Bay on the scoreboard.
The Washington Football Team concludes its preparations for its Week 10 home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 12, 2021. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)