Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Buccaneers will take to the prime-time stage on Monday night as they take on a star-studded Eagles team in the league's only battle of undefeated teams in Week Three Scott Smith
There is only one game on the NFL's entire Week Three schedule that pits two unbeaten teams against each other, and it will take place in Raymond James Stadium on Monday night.
The 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, off to a 2-0 start, will get their first prime-time exposure of the season, welcoming the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles to town. The Eagles have also won their first two games after producing a conference-best 13-4 record in 2022 and advancing all the way to Super Bowl LVII. The game is part of a Monday Night Football doubleheader, as the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals will kick off an hour after the Buccaneers and Eagles do.
The Buccaneers, projected by many NFL analysts to be closer to competing for the first pick in next year's draft than to their fourth straight playoff appearance, have received key contributions from a wide variety of players during their fast start. Wide receiver Mike Evans, now in his 10th season, appears reenergized by the team's new offense and is fifth in the NFL with 237 receiving yards while scoring in each game. New starting quarterback Baker Mayfield has a 104.4 passer rating and no turnovers through two games. The Bucs' offensive line has allowed only one sack and has blocked for 33.5 carries a game, a massive difference from a year ago. Seven different players have contributed to the team's eight sacks on defense. Rookie nickel back Christian Izien already has two interceptions, and the linebacking duo of Lavonte David continues to perform like one of the league's best. Punter Jake Camarda has made a huge difference in field position in both contests.
The Buccaneers will need that sort of roster-wide contribution to upend the talented Eagles, keep their 2023 record unblemished and serve notice that they are once again playoff contenders.
"[It is a] very talented team, very well-coached," said Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles. "Like you said, they were in the Super Bowl last year. We've been in that situation. They've got talent at every level on both sides of the ball. We're going to have to use everybody to try and win this ballgame. It's not going to come from one or two groups, it's going to have to be individual play, it's going to have to be group play. We're going to have to be very sound."
The Eagles do indeed present multiple threats on both offense and defense. Jalen Hurts, one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league, finished second in the NFL MVP balloting last season and has already both run for and thrown a pair of touchdowns. He has one of the league's most dangerous wide receiver duos in DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown and Smith has already racked up 178 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Philadelphia's offensive line sent three starters to the Pro Bowl last year, and Dallas Goedert is a standout two-way tight end.
On defense, the Eagles continue to field one of the deepest and most dangerous defensive fronts, now powered by their top picks in the last two drafts, defensive tackles Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter. Those two have already combined for 2.5 sacks and are also integral to the league's top-ranked run defense. Savvy veteran cornerback Darius Slay already has an interception and four passes defensed, good for second in the NFL. Slot corner Avonte Maddox is also off to a good start with eight tackles, a tackle for loss, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.
The Buccaneers have won their last four games against the Eagles, including a meeting in the Wild Card round of the 2021 playoffs. That Eagles team, and Hurts specifically, was just starting to find its footing as a title contender, and it blossomed fully into one of the league's best teams in 2022. The goals for the Eagles in 2023 is to take it one step further and bring home the second Super Bowl title in franchise history. The Buccaneers already have two Lombardi Trophies, and they maintain a good amount of the core from their most recent championship in 2020. They hope to use the prime-time spotlight on Monday night to prove they still have the talent to be contenders as well in 2023.
GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS
Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
Monday, September 25, 7:15 p.m. ET
Raymond James Stadium (capacity: 65,844)
Television: ABC/ESPN+ (Local WFTS Channel 28)
TV Broadcast Team: Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst), Lisa Salters (reporter), John Parry (officiating analyst)
Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station
Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (sideline)
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ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES
The Eagles occupy a prominent spot in Buccaneers franchise history. Tampa Bay has met Philadelphia five times in the postseason, their most against any opponent, and that includes the first playoff game in Bucs history and the first conference championship game in team annals, as well.
The most recent such encounter is also the last time these two teams shared a field, as the Buccaneers defeated the Eagles, 31-15, at Raymond James Stadium, in the Wild Card round of the 2021 playoffs. Tampa Bay actually built a 31-0 lead in that game on the strength of Tom Brady touchdown passes to Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski, and the Bucs' defense held quarterback Jalen Hurts to 38 rushing yards and one touchdown pass while intercepting him twice.
That victory broke an all-time tie, at least temporarily, between the two teams, as they had previously split 16 regular-season meetings and four playoff contests straight down the middle. The Bucs actually tied up the regular-season series earlier that season with a 28-22 win at Philadelphia in Week Six evened up the all-time record between these two teams at 8-8. Leonard Fournette ran for two touchdowns in that game at Lincoln Financial Field, balancing out the two times Hurts ran it in, as the Bucs went up 28-7 before hanging on for the victory.
Two weeks into that 2018 season, the Eagles came to Raymond James Stadium after beating Tom Brady's Patriots, 41-33, in a thrilling Super Bowl LII shootout the previous February. The Buccaneers had finished that same 2017 season with a 5-11 record, though they had looked impressive in a 2018 opening-week, 48-40 win in New Orleans. The Buccaneers beat the Eagles, 27-21, with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing four touchdown passes, including a 75-yarder to former Eagle DeSean Jackson on the first play of the game. It would be the Eagles that went back to the playoffs that season, though, earning a Wild Card berth while the Bucs slumped to 5-11 and initiated a coaching change.
Many of Tampa Bay's best moments in their head-to-head history with the Eagles have occurred in Philadelphia. There's the 2002 NFC Championship Game, of course, but the 2003 Monday Night Football season opener was a particularly satisfying win, as well. The Buccaneers were there in Philadelphia in 1999 when Donovan McNabb made his NFL debut, and they didn't exactly treat him well. Tampa Bay started its 1995 campaign by sacking Randall Cunningham five times and winning handily at Philadelphia; that was Warren Sapp's NFL debut and he had one of those five sacks. Even the Bucs' most recent trip to Philly, in 2015, was notable: At the time, the Bucs' 45-17 win over the Eagles was their highest-scoring road game ever.
The Bucs' biggest highlight in their series with the Eagles is unquestionably that aforementioned 2002 NFCC Game. The Buccaneers had seen their playoff dreams die at Veterans Stadium each of the previous two winters and had even lost in their personal house of horrors earlier in that '02 campaign. But the Bucs showed up ready to battle and overcome a long game-opening kickoff and a Philly touchdown just a minute into the game. Joe Jurevicius's unforgettable 71-yard catch-and-run began the turnaround, and the Bucs stymied McNabb for most of the night with two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception off the prolific quarterback. Down 20-10, the Eagles mounted a late rally behind McNabb's improvisational big plays and were closing in on the end zone with five minutes left. That's when Ronde Barber made perhaps the single greatest play in team annals, intercepting a short pass and returning it 92 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
Four seasons later, Barber terrorized McNabb again with a pair of pick-sixes in a 23-21 win at Raymond James Stadium in 2006, the game that famously ended on Matt Bryant's 62-yard field goal. Until Mike Edwards pulled off the feat in Week Two of this season against Atlanta, Barber had been the only player in team history to have two interception-return touchdowns in the same game.
Tampa Bay's very first playoff game also featured the Eagles. After winning the NFC Central in 1979, just the franchise's fourth season of existence, the Bucs got a home game to start the playoffs and beat Philadelphia, 24-17. Ricky Bell set still-standing team records for carries (38) and rushing yards (142) in a playoff game.
NOTABLE CONNECTIONS Tampa Bay General Manager Jason Licht had a five-year run in the Eagles' personnel department from 2003-07. He started out as the team's assistant director of player personnel but was promoted to vice president of player personnel for his final two seasons with the team. Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles had a short stint as the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia. After finishing the 2011 season as the Miami Dolphins' interim head coach following the in-season dismissal of Tony Sparano, Bowles joined the Eagles' staff in 2012 as the team's secondary coach. Another dismissal, this time of Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo in October, once again bumped Bowles' title up as he took over that job for the remainder of the season. Buccaneers cornerback Zyon McCollum and Eagles practice squad defensive back Tristin McCollum are twin brothers. They both played their college ball at Sam Houston State. The Buccaneers drafted McCollum in the fifth round of the 2022 draft, while Tristin signed with the Houston Texas as an undrafted free agent. Tristin spent his rookie season on Houston's practice squad before signing with the Eagles in January. Alex Tanney, the Eagles' quarterbacks coach saw time with eight different NFL teams as a quarterback. One of his stops was in Tampa, where he signed with the Bucs in May of 2014 but was released later that August. Thaddeus Lewis, who is in his first year as the Buccaneers' quarterbacks coach spent parts of eight seasons in the NFL as a quarterback with eight different teams, appearing in seven games with six starts. One of his stops was in Philadelphia, where he spent the entire 2015 season without appearing in a game. Eagles safety Justin Evans began his NFL career in Tampa as a second-round draft pick in 2017. He appeared in 24 games with 21 starts for the Buccaneers during the 2017-18 seasons, recording four interceptions, but was then sidelined for multiple seasons by a foot injury. Evans made his return to the field last season with the Saints and then signed with Philadelphia during the offseason. Philadelphia offensive tackle Fred Johnson spent half of last season with the Buccaneers. He signed in Tampa in April of 2022 and saw action in five games as a reserve before being waived at the beginning of November. Eagles-Buccaneers: Top Storylines & Key Matchups in Week Three Jake Camarda Wins Second NFC Player of the Week Award Scouting Report: Eagles’ Top Game Wreckers | Week 3 SENIOR COACHING STAFFS
Head Coach Todd Bowles Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong
Head Coach Nick Sirianni Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai Special Teams Coordinator Michael Clay KEY 2023 ROSTER ADDITIONS
LB SirVocea Dennis (fifth-round draft pick) OLB Yaya Diaby (third-round draft pick) TE Payne Durham (fifth-round draft pick) RB Chase Edmonds (FA)...currently on injured reserve G Matt Feiler (FA) DL Greg Gaines (UFA) CB Josh Hayes (sixth-round draft pick) S Christian Izien (UDFA) WR Rakim Jarrett (UDFA) DL Calijah Kancey (first-round draft pick) G Cody Mauch (second-round draft pick) QB Baker Mayfield (UFA) K Chase McLaughlin (UFA) S Ryan Neal (FA) WR Trey Palmer (sixth-round draft pick) RB Sean Tucker (UDFA)
S Sydney Brown (third-round draft pick) DT Jalen Carter (first-round draft pick) LB Zach Cunningham (FA) S Terrell Edmunds (UFA) S Justin Evans (UFA) QB Marcus Mariota (FA) QB Tanner McKee (sixth-round draft pick) LB Nicholas Morrow (FA) TE Albert Okwuegbunam (Trade - Denver) RB Rashaad Penny (UFA) CB Kelee Ringo (fourth-round draft pick) LB Nolan Smith (first-round draft pick) T Tyler Steen (third-round draft pick) RB D'Andre Swift (Trade - Detroit) DL Kentavius Street (UFA) WR Olamide Zaccheaus (UFA) ADDITIONAL 2023 CHANGES/DEVELOPMENTS OF NOTE
Todd Bowles enters his second season as the Bucs' head coach with a new offensive coordinator on his staff. Former Seahawks Quarterbacks Coach Dave Canales takes over for Byron Leftwich, who spent four seasons in that role, the first three under Head Coach Bruce Arians. Canales helped quarterback Geno Smith go from journeyman to the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2022 and has roots in the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay systems. The Buccaneers made a number of other changes to Bowles' staff after the 2022 season, bringing in George Edwards (a former Vikings defensive coordinator) to coach outside linebackers, Brad Idzik to tutor wide receivers, and Skip Peete to take over the running backs room. David Raih and Jordan Somerville also joined the team as senior offensive analyst and assistant quarterbacks coach, respectively. With the arrival of Edwards, defensive Pass Game Coordinator Larry Foote switched from the outside linebacker room to the inside linebacker group. Thaddeus Lewis, who spent the previous two seasons as an assistant wide receivers coach, was promoted to quarterbacks coach. After winning a Super Bowl and two division titles over the past three years, the Buccaneers saw an era come to an end when quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement in late January. To move on at the game's most critical position, the Buccaneers brought in former number-one overall draft pick Baker Mayfield to compete with 2021 second-round selection Kyle Trask. Former Ram John Wolford was also added for experienced depth in the quarterback room. Mayfield was named the opening-day starter by Bowles between the second and third preseason games in August. After largely "keeping the band together" for the 2021-22 seasons after their Super Bowl LV victory, the Buccaneers parted ways with a number of prominent players in 2023. Donovan Smith, who occupied the Bucs' starting left tackle spot for eight seasons, was released in March, as were tight end Cameron Brate, running back Leonard Fournette and kicker Ryan Succop. Safety Mike Edwards, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, safety Keanu Neal, defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tackle Josh Wells all found new homes in free agency while defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, wide receiver Julio Jones, outside linebacker Carl Nassib, tight end Kyle Rudolph and safety Logan Ryan were not re-signed.
As is often the case with a deeply talented Super Bowl roster, the Eagles took some hits in free agency in the offseason. The most notable loss was from their loaded defensive front, as star defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who had 11.0 sacks in 2022, landed a deal from San Francisco at the very top of the market. The Eagles also saw both of their starting off-ball linebackers depart, as T.J. Edwards signed with the Bears and Kyzir White left for the Cardinals. There were a pair of losses in the secondary, as well, with slot corner Gardner-Johnson left for Detroit after just one season in Philly and safety Marcus Epps, an every-game starter in 2022, moved to Las Vegas to join the Raiders. On offense, backup quarterback Gardner Minshew followed Shane Steichen to Indianapolis, guard Isaac Seumalo moved across the state to Pittsburgh and reserve tackle Andre Dillard got a starting gig in Tennessee. Running back Miles Sanders got a multi-year deal with the Panthers. As noted, Steichen left for the Colts, getting a promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach. Steichen wasn't the only Eagles coordinator to land a corner office in the offseason, as Jonathan Gannon was hired by the Cardinals as their new head coach. Brian Johnson, formerly the quarterbacks coach, got a promotion to take over Steichen's former job. They went outside the building for a new defensive coordinator, hiring Sean Desai, who most recently had been an associate head coach and defensive assistant under Pete Carroll in Seattle. The Eagles were one of a handful of teams to get their young star quarterbacks locked in with a contract extension before the start of the season. In late April, Hurts and the team agreed on a five-year extension that is worth up to $255 million and runs through the 2028 season. INJURY REPORT
DNP: Did not participate in practice
LP: Limited participation in practice
FP: Full participation in practice
NL: Not listed
* CB Carlton Davis (toe) - WEDS: LP
* LB SirVocea Dennis (hamstring) - WEDS: DNP
* DL Calijah Kancey (calf) - WEDS: DNP
* S Ryan Neal (ribs/knee) - WEDS: LP
* DL Vita Vea (pectoral) - WEDS: LP
* S Reed Blankenship (ribs) - WEDS: LP
* CB James Bradberry (concussion) - WEDS: LP
* DT Fletcher Cox (ribs) - WEDS: LP
* LB Zach Cunningham (ribs) - WEDS: LP
* DT Jordan Davis (ankle) - WEDS: LP
* S Terrell Edmunds (illness) - WEDS: LP
* RB Kenneth Gainwell (ribs) - WEDS: LP
* RB Boston Scott (concussion) - WEDS: DNP
* WR DeVonta Smith (hamstring/thigh) - WEDS: LP
* TE Jack Stoll (ankle) - WEDS: LP
* DE Josh Sweat (toe) - WEDS: LP
* WR Quez Watkins (hamstring) - WEDS: DNP
Generally clear conditions in the evening, daytime high of 90, evening low of 73, 24% chance of rain, 86% humidity, winds out of the E at 4 mph.
Head referee: Adrian Hill (14th season, fifth as referee)
* Favorite: Eagles (-5.0)
* Over/Under: 46.0
INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
Points Scored: K Chase McLaughlin 17
Touchdowns: WR Mike Evans, 2
Passing Yards: QB Baker Mayfield, 490
Passer Rating: QB Baker Mayfield, 104.4
Rushing Yards: RB Rachaad White, 112
Receptions: WR Mike Evans, 12
Receiving Yards: WR Mike Evans, 237
Interceptions: S Christian Izien, 2
Sacks: OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, 2.0
Tackles: S Ryan Neal/LB Devin White, 14
Points Scored: K Jake Elliott, 23
Touchdowns: QB Jalen Hurts/WR DeVonta Smith, 2
Passing Yards: QB Jalen Hurts, 363
Passer Rating: QB Jalen Hurts, 93.1
Rushing Yards: RB D'Andre Swift, 178
Receptions: WR DeVonta Smith/WR A.J. Brown, 11
Receiving Yards: WR DeVonta Smith, 178
Interceptions: CB Darius Slay, 1
Sacks: DE Josh Sweat/DT Jalen Carter, 1.5
Tackles: LB Zach Cunningham, 12
TEAM STAT RANKINGS (2022 end of season)
Scoring Offense: 16th (23.5 ppg)
Total Offense: 13th (339.5 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 19th (96.5 ypg)
Passing Offense: 9th (243.0 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: t-26th (17.5)
Third-Down Pct.: t-8th (43.8%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 5th (1.47%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 30th (33.3%)
Scoring Defense: 9th (17.0 ppg)
Total Defense: 9th (302.5 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 2nd (54.0 ypg)
Passing Defense: 24th (248.5 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: 5th (16.0)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 22nd (44.4%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 6th (10.96%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 12th (50.0%)
Turnover Margin: 2nd (+5)
Scoring Offense: 5th (29.5 ppg)
Total Offense: 11th (340.5 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 2nd (188.0 ypg)
Passing Offense: 29th (162.5 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: t-13th (20.5)
Third-Down Pct.: 18th (37.0%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 26th (12.50%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: t-7th (66.7%)
Scoring Defense: 16th (24.0 ppg)
Total Defense: 26th (378.0 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 1st (52.0 ypg)
Passing Defense: 31st (326.0 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-20th (21.5)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 21st (44.0%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 28th (4.08%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: t-28th (75.0%)
Turnover Margin: 3rd (+4)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR Wide receiver Mike Evans recorded his second touchdown catch of the season in Week Two against Chicago, giving him 83 on his career to tie for 25th in NFL history in that category. One more and he would move up into the group tied for 21st, which consists of Mark Clayton, Tommy McDonald, Irving Fryar and Andre Rison. Wide receiver Chris Godwin could take over sole possession of 10th place on the Bucs' all-time scoring list with a score of any kind. He is currently tied for 10th with Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles with 204 points. If Godwin were to score via a touchdown - admittedly the most likely scenario by a long shot - he will also catch Giles in terms of total TDs scored and tie Cameron Brate for touchdown receptions. Godwin currently has 33 touchdowns on his resume (32 receiving and one rushing), while Giles has 34, all receiving, and Brate has 33, all receiving. Godwin has an active streak of 16 consecutive games with at least five receptions, which is the longest current one in the NFL. It's also the longest in Bucs history. Rookie safety Christian Izien is just the fourth undrafted player in NFL history to record an interception in each of his first two games. If he can make it three in a row, he would be the first undrafted player to accomplish that feat and just the fifth player overall to do so, joining John Anderson (1978), Terry Jackson (1978), Paul Krause (1970) and Carl Lockhart (1970). A victory for the Buccaneers would give the team its first 3-0 start to the season since 2005. NOTABLY QUOTABLE Head Coach Todd Bowles on if the Bucs' 2-0 start indicates a talented overall roster rather than a team centered around one star player: "Even when we had [Tom Brady], it was a team full of winners, so it's no different for us. We don't feel any differently in the building. We set our own expectations and that's what we go by. I think the minute you start performing to other people's expectations, you start letting yourself down and letting everybody else down. We have belief in this building, we have confidence in this building. We've had winners in this building the past few years - that has not changed. The people have changed but that has not changed. We're continuing to do that." Cornerback Zyon McCollum on stepping into the starting lineup when Carlton Davis was out: "I just had a really good week of preparation, met with a lot of our coaches, and got comfortable with the game plan. For me, it was a good week of preparation. The thing I've been doing in the past is thinking out there, and so if I go out there and think then what is the point of preparing. I went out there [and] wasn't think, just playing." Tight end Cade Otton on playing nearly every offensive snap through the first two games: "It's a great challenge. I try to take pride in never asking to come out of the game, so it's one of those things [where] you have to refocus every single play, just focus on that next rep and what you have to do to win it. That's really all I'm thinking about in the moment and then however many plays I play at the end of the game, it is what it is." Bowles on if quarterback Baker Mayfield is showing his experience in how well he has protected the football: "Yeah, exactly. He's been through a lot in five years - he's been through ups and downs. He knows it's not about him, it's about the team. He's been very smart with the football, obviously, for the most part - he got away with one early but he's been very good with the football. If you don't turn it over, you give yourself a chance - that's important. You have to take chances, but you can't turn it over as well and he's been doing a great job at that." Quarterback Baker Mayfield on playing against the Eagles' star-studded defensive front: "Their front seven - they're a special defense, they have been for the last few years for a reason. It's those guys. Obviously, it starts with the interior guys. They've got great edge rushers who had tremendous years last year. We're aware of that, we're going to be ready for it. They get paid, too. They're going to have good plays, we're going to have bad plays. You've just got to adjust and go off that. It's about handling the little bumps in the road throughout the game and making sure we get the last punch." Punter Jake Camarda on winning the Special Teams Player of the Week Award: "It's not a me thing - that's a team thing. I'm not able to punt the football if we don't have all of those guys blocking for me or if Zach [Triner] doesn't get me the ball. And we can't cover if we don't have those guys down there, those gunners getting down there. Those guys do a heck of a job. I love to see them play, honestly. My name might be attached to it, but that's not me that's really winning that award, it's a collective group kind of deal."