The Indianapolis Colts (5-5) will welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6) to Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday as both teams continue to navigate challenging seasons. After winning their Week 10 matchup in Germany and then taking Week 11 off, the well-rested and well-traveled Colts are hoping to continue their momentum against the Bucs.
Tampa Bay, on the other hand, has lost five of their last six games, including last week's duel with San Francisco. However, the Buccaneers are better than their record suggests and are looking to turn their campaign around in the second half of the season. Indianapolis must have a response for Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Todd Bowles' defense if they want to successfully defend home turf. Here's what the Colts need to do to beat the Bucs and win their third game in a row.
3. Get the ball out of Gardner Minshew's hands quickly
One of the hallmarks of Tampa Bay's top-10 scoring defense is Bowles' aggressive and blitz-happy playcalling. The Bucs blitz at the fourth-highest rate in the league (35.1%) and Indianapolis needs to be prepared. With a front seven featuring Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, and the emerging Yaya Diaby, Tampa Bay definitely has the talent to disrupt the Colts' offense.
This is a particular area of concern for Indianapolis as quarterback Gardner Minshew has struggled with accuracy and turnovers when dealing with pressure. Minshew has thrown six interceptions so far this season, and his last four were all a result of being hurried by the opposing defense. On top of that, Minshew has been strip-sacked five times this year. Simply put, if the Bucs can make Minshew uncomfortable in the pocket, there's a good chance takeaways and defensive stops will follow.
Although the Colts' solid-as-ever offensive line will play a major role, head coach Shane Steichen can still do his part by scheming up plays to help Minshew get rid of the ball before the pass rush has a chance to reach him. With a number of big-bodied wideouts, a reliable slot receiver in Josh Downs, and an elite pass-catching running back in Jonathan Taylor, Steichen should have no problem dialing up plenty of quick, short routes to neutralize Tampa Bay's blitz-centric defense.