2. Challenge Tampa Bay's secondary early and often
To say the Bucs' defensive backs have been vulnerable in 2023 would be an understatement. Tampa Bay is allowing the second-most passing yards in the league at 270.7 per game. In recent weeks alone, 49ers QB Brock Purdy recorded a perfect passer rating against the Bucs, and Houston Texans rookie C.J. Stroud torched Bowles' defense to the tune of 470 yards and five touchdowns through the air.
Tampa Bay's starting corners — Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean — are struggling despite being two of the highest-paid players at their position. According to Pro Football Reference, opposing QBs are recording passer ratings of over 100 when throwing at either of them. The Tampa Bay secondary is also banged up as neither Davis nor Dean finished last Sunday's game and safety Ryan Neal was ruled out before kickoff. Those injuries forced rookies Josh Hayes and Kaevon Merriweather and second-year pro Zion McCollum into more action than expected (or desired).
Regardless of who suits up for the Bucs in Indianapolis, the Colts need to target these defensive backs frequently. Indianapolis can really take advantage of explosive plays down the field — across their last three games, Tampa Bay has allowed a pair of 75-yard-plus touchdown receptions. There are clearly big holes in the Bucs' secondary and the Colts should try to expose them as much as possible.