Buccaneers vs Texans: Week 3 NFL preseason preview

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ official defense of their Super Bowl title is almost here, as they travel to take on the Houston Texans and prepare to wrap up the formalities of the NFL preseason. Continue reading for key matchups in the upcoming Bucs-Texans clash, and predictions for how the game will play out.

See where the Bucs and Texans fall in our latest NFL power rankings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Houston Texans: What you need to know

Kyle Trask vs Davis Mills

Buccaneers vs Texans: Week 3 NFL preseason preview
Aug 21, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) on the field in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

According to head coach Bruce Arians, the Bucs’ starters will play for at least a half, so all eyes will be on Tom Brady and Tampa Bay’s offense for a while. We all know that’s a mismatch against Houston’s defense. It’ll be more interesting to see how Kyle Trask fares once TB12 exits.

Trask was the final pick in the second round of this year’s draft, and the Texans acquired Davis Mills early in Round 3 with its first selection, largely due to the uncertainty about Deshaun Watson’s future.

  • Terrible Trask: The Florida product has looked rough in the preseason thus far, completing just 13 of 26 passes for 131 yards and two interceptions last week. That said, the talent around him is lots of backups, and there’s still plenty of time for Trask to develop.
  • Davis In, Deshaun Out: Watson has, in all likelihood, played his final down in a Texans uniform. It speaks volumes about what Houston thought of Mills that it drafted him, especially without having a first- or second-round pick. Although his sample size at Stanford was small, Mills at least has the tools to be a franchise QB someday.

Advantage: Houston Texans

Texans offensive line vs Buccaneers pass rush

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Houston Texans: What you need to know
Jun 1, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Joe Tryon (9) during organized team activities at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus ranked the Texans offensive line 23rd in 2020, and that unit was often bailed out by Watson’s ability to escape and extend plays with his legs. While Tyrod Taylor is definitely a dual threat as a thrower and runner, he’s not anywhere near the arm talent or quick decision-making of Watson, so that could be a problem.

Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are already a formidable duo off the edge for Tampa Bay. Rookie first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka is absolutely lighting it up at Bucs camp, too. Just that trio alone is going to be a huge test for the Texans.

  • Latest on Laremy Tunsil: The only star on Houston’s o-line is left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Unfortunately, he’s been on the COVID-19 list since August 13, and as of this Wednesday, per Texans beat reporter Aaron Wilson, was still not back at practice. It’s unlikely he’ll play, which makes this overall matchup even more lopsided.
  • White-Hot Pursuit: Bucs linebacker Devin White is a heat-seeking missile on the gridiron, and is actually an extremely productive pass-rusher. White had nine sacks in 2020, so you can bet he’ll be deployed to help collapse Houston’s pocket.

Advantage: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Click here to see how the Bucs’ D stacks up with the league’s elite in our NFL defense rankings

Bruce Arians vs David Culley

Buccaneers vs Texans: Week 3 NFL preseason preview
Aug 14, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to establish a culture change in an organization filled with toxicity is no easy task. David Culley is a veteran assistant coach with decades of NFL experience. He finally got his shot at a leading gig with the Texans. It’s probably the most formidable challenge anyone could take on.

Meanwhile, Arians’ side has the clear talent advantage. In all areas. That’s what happens when you’re able to return every offensive and defensive starter from last season’s championship team.

  • BA Bringing It: The aforementioned strategy to play starters is a bold move, but it’s also good that Arians isn’t letting Tampa Bay get complacent after its Super Bowl triumph. There’s an idle week before the start of the regular season, so Arians’ decision to deploy his starters for a while in this one should pay dividends.
  • Culley Late to The Party: Easily the last coaching hire of the offseason, Culley seemed like a reach to fill Houston’s vacancy from the start. He has such an awful roster to work with and one of the worst QB rooms in the league, so it’s really unfair to expect much in his first year at the helm.

Advantage: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The bottom line: A Buccaneers vs Texans matchup in the regular season would be comically lopsided. We might see that at least for the first two quarters. Even though the Bucs are 0-2 and the Texans are 2-0 in the preseason, Tampa Bay’s decision to deploy starters is going to crush the hosts.

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