Let's not sugar-coat anything, I don't think anyone knows what to expect from either the Bucs or the Titans this Sunday.
In this piece, we will focus on the Bucs defense against the Tennessee Ttians offense with rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The pairing of Marcus Mariota with Ken Whisenhunt's offense seems like trying to place a square peg in a round hole - I should know, I'm currently at that stage with my infant daughter. Mariota's transformation into a true pocket passer seemed to be progressing well throughout the preseason, but we've seen this with rookie quarterbacks before. Once we hit the regular season, and things are moving a bit faster, players revert to what they know. For the Bucs, they need to be ready for that.
Mariota's greatest gift is his ability to take off and run. For a rookie quarterback in his first game, if something isn't there initially, don't be surprised if Mariota takes off a few times. When he does take off, Mariota will have to deal with two linebackers that are as fast and athletic as he is in Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. Whether they like it or not, I feel this game could be decided by the play of those two linebackers. Lovie Smith needs to be aggressive and allow David and Alexander to attack Marcus Mariota and make him uncomfortable throughout the entire game. This will lead to mistakes by Mariota, which could ultimately lead to short fields for the Bucs rookie quarterback.
The Bucs greatest attribute on defense is their linebackers, and those linebackers might be the ones who decide the outsome on Sunday.