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Redskins 2018 Season Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 10


The Redskins' face their final NFC South opponent of the 2018 season, as they travel south to take on head coach Dirk Koetter's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10.

Tampa Bay Key Additions: Acquired DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants), Signed DE Vinny Curry (Eagles), C Ryan Jensen (Ravens), K Chandler Catanzaro (Jets), Drafted DT Vita Vea (Washington) and RB Ronald Jones (USC).

Tampa Bay Key Subtractions: RB Doug Martin, DE Robert Ayers Jr., G J.R. Sweezy and WR Vincent Jackson.

The two sides last met in 2015 when the Bucs traveled up to FedExField in Landover, Md., where the Redskins pulled out a nail-biter 31-30 comeback victory after former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins connected with Jordan Reed in the end zone with just 24 seconds to play.

This will be the 21st matchup between these inter-conference foes, with the current series split at 10 games apiece. Of course, a lot has changed for both teams since their thrilling game during the Redskins' 2015 NFC East Championship campaign.

Former No. 1-overall selection Jameis Winston remains under center for Tampa Bay after compiling a career-low 3,504 passing yards last season. This was partially due to the former Florida State Seminole missing three games with a shoulder injury. Last season will be something Winston wants to keep in the past, as many thought he was primed for a breakout campaign.

After finishing with a 5-11 record, the Buccaneers had their worst season since 2014, the year before they selected Winston with the top pick in the NFL Draft.

Regardless of how the first 10 weeks of the season play out, Greg Manusky and his defense will prepare for Winston as if he is still the talent that is supposed to lead the Buccaneers to the NFL's elite.

For the Bucs, one positive is that even after last year's struggles, they still have a very young core. Mike Evans, their superstar wide receiver, and Winston are both just 24 years old. While Todd Monken's offensive group is in a make or break season, the security of having the two faces of your franchise not even in their respective primes should give Tampa Bay fans hope for the seasons to come.

With the Panthers and Falcons making it to the Super Bowl in the last three years, the NFC South has established itself as one of the premier divisions in the NFL. This is not to say that the Buccaneers should be given a pass for not reaching their potential the past few years, but it reduces their chances for success when they play six games a year against playoff-caliber teams in Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans, which won the division last year.

When looking at what will determine the Redskins' success in this game, shutting down the aforementioned duo is certainly a top priority. The departure of two-time pro bowl running back Doug Martin to the Oakland Raiders will put great pressure on Tampa Bay's second-round selection -- running back Ronald Jones -- to shine in his rookie season, but his chance for greatness hinges on the success of Winston and Evans creating plays downfield.

A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Like the Redskins, Tampa Bay struggled greatly against the run last year, surrendering just less than 118 rushing yards a game last season. Acquiring two-time Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul from the New York Giants and taking Vita Vea with the No. 12-overall pick in the NFL Draft demonstrated that fixing the run defense was the Buccaneers' top priority this offseason.

To no surprise, head coach Jay Gruden and the front office were keen on the defensive lineman due to his dominance against opposing running backs in the Pac-12 and imposing 6-foot-4, 347-pound frame. Between Vea, Daron Payne and two improved defensive lines, this game should be a fun battle in the trenches.

"Yeah, he [Vea] obviously was in the mix too," Gruden said after the NFL Draft. "We were talking about him and evaluated him, but, you know, when the guys go before, we just cross them off the list. It's a heck of a deal. And when guys are left that we really, really like and we're able to get them, it's exciting."