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Buccaneers' Receiving Corps Will Test Young Rams Secondary

Vincent Jackson is half of a dynamic Buccaneers receiving duo that will surely challenge the Rams defense.

Al Messerschmidt

Eventually, the dust must settle.

The St. Louis Rams have been dismantled and embarrassed in nearly every way possible for such a short time frame.  One week, one game was all that it took to seemingly crush a team and a season.  Nonetheless, we as Rams fans have learned to cope with disappointment.

Last week's hangover has now all but subsided; it's time to start anew.

The Rams were abysmal in every facet against the Minnesota Vikings, but it was the defense that, arguably, disappointed most.  This unit, which was supposed to contend with and rank among the best in the league, appeared impeccably average, at best.  Already without starting corner back Trumaine Johnson and now defensive end Chris Long, rebounding defensively in week 2 could prove to be a tall order ... literally.

The Rams will face an entirely different monster this Sunday in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Unlike the Vikings, the Bucs will likely attempt to do the majority of their damage on offense through the air, because, well, they can.  At least, on paper.

Boasting what is unequivocally the league's tallest starting wide receiver duo, Tampa Bay will attack the Rams inexperienced and under-qualified secondary early and often.  To put it simply, veteran Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans -- both 6'5" and roughly 230 lbs. -- will tower over anyone in the St. Louis' defensive backfield.

Fans of the Rams are undoubtedly very familiar with both of these big-play threats.  Not all too long ago, we at Turf Show Times were quite enamored with Vincent Jackson as his then-impending departure from San Diego halted in limbo, while Mike Evans was frequently linked to the Rams during the pre-draft process last spring.  The two, along with a few others, now make Tampa Bay (in theory) more formidable on offense than they have been in quite some time.

In his last three seasons, VJax has averaged 1,238 yards and 8 touchdowns, while Mike Evans was a 2013 consensus All-American at Texas A&M, serving as Johnny Manziel's main money maker.

Not to be typecast as "red zone threats," Tampa Bay's one-two punch at wide receiver has shown time and again -- at the professional ranks or otherwise -- a willingness to make plays anywhere on the field.  Come Sunday, they will likely be utilized in every way possible, whether via bubble screen, deep across the middle, short crossing route and, yes, in the back of the end zone.

Unfortunately, until then, there is really no telling what to expect from the Buccaneers (For that, thank the Carolina Panthers for emphatically shutting them down). There is only speculation as to how the Rams will fare and combat what is thrown at them.

Like it or not, third-year pro Janoris Jenkins is the veteran of the Rams secondary.  It's time for him to make another statement in his young career.  Jenkins, who has fared surprisingly well against bigger and more physical wide receivers in the NFL (See: Larry Fitzgerald), will lead a group of corner backs who could very well resemble that deer who last stood wide-eyed and motionless in front of your speeding high beams.

Rookie sixth round pick E.J. Gaines is the most likely candidate to make his second start in the league opposite of Jenkins, likely tasking him with guarding fellow first-year pro Mike Evans.  All things considered, Gaines actually fared well after being thrust into the starting lineup against Minnesota; however, he has yet to come face-to-face with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  Ideally, the Rams secondary will be forced to do "just enough" to allow the Rams pass rush to disable the Buccaneers attack, which was proven quite possible last week.

Current Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown is quite accustomed to playing with bigger wide receivers.  Serving as the Chicago Bears backup in 2013, with Pro Bowlers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as his primary targets, he threw for 1,829 yards and 13 touchdowns with only 1 interception in 8 games. Still, like Shaun Hill and Austin Davis, he is far from a solution behind center.

Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans can do it all, and they can do it all even better while opposite of one another.  Although the two combined for a mere 73 yards on 9 total catches against Carolina, their numbers will only continue to rise.

Two weeks ago, a Rams victory over the Buccaneers would have seemed immanent.  Now, however, the Rams may need all of the luck to go their way to escape Tampa Bay with a win.

And a little bit of timeless comedy wouldn't hurt, either.