With a new Coach that is already making waves in the NFL, Tampa Bay is ready to change the culture of the team and find a way to climb out of that NFC South Basement. This is an intriguing team. They have a young QB heading into his fourth year that has tasted success in this league and is not content. They have a dynamic Duo at wide receiver, a diverse group of running backs and a Defense that wants to wants to resemble the former Tamp Bay Defense of Old that had Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice and current Safety Ronde Barber. Their team took a huge step backward last year and perhaps was not ready for the expectations that they brought upon themselves. Maturity was a huge question with Raheem Morris. Consistency and preparation are needed along with talent and execution to be a good team. With a new coach and focus, the Buccaneers are hungry to make a name for themselves. They seem to have the formula to do just that.
They have several weapons at Freeman’s disposal. Free Agent acquisition Vincent Jackson has already made an impact on their offense. Just being on the field helps out the other receivers, but with Sammie Stroughter being on injured reserve, Jackson and Mike Williams will have to increase their production in a passing attack that is already ranked twenty-ninth. Dallas Clark and Luke Stocker will also be depended on to help this passing offense. Many are looking to see if Josh Freeman is going to take that next step in his growth as a quarterback or will he fall back. Rookie Running back Doug Martin will be looking to get going and start to experience more success running the football than what he has had. So far, he has rushed for 161 yards at an average of 3.7 yards per attempt. DJ Ware has seen playing time with the sidelining of LeGarrette Blount. This will be an interesting thing to watch unfold. Blount was a bruising back who could break tackles and get out in the open field. Injuries has slowed him down, but now he looks to be healthy.
On Defense, the Buccaneers have benefited from good drafts. Players like Mason Foster (leads team in Tackles and Interceptions), Gerald McCoy and Aqib Talib are becoming play-makers and rookies Mark Barron and Lavonte Davis are off to good starts. This Defense is slowly developing and Shiano is only going to make them better. They have become a nice run-stopping team, but they have been getting torched in the air. (52 rushing yards per game; 400 Passing yards per game.) This was one of the reasons why the Giants came back and won last week. As good as they were against the run, they were that bad against the pass. Eli Manning was able to do anything he wanted out there. The Buccaneers have to get a consistent pass rush. They have an opportunistic defense that just needs more from their line. I thought the Cowboys did a better job of protecting Tony, but the Receivers left plays on the field. How many of those drops and miscues will result in Touchdowns this game?
The Offense had success off of turnovers, but when they did not have great field position, they found it hard to get into the end zone. Last week, not including the drives that was started due to Eli Manning throwing interceptions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers only scored one touchdown. They have to sustain drives, and connect plays together to move down the field and get into the end zone. Thy have averaged fifteen first downs a game, but they have not gotten the success that they have wanted from their offense. One thing to look for is their big plays. Their longest pass was 41 yards and 15 yards rushing. Vincent Jackson is one player that can help this offense, but he has not performed so well against Brandon Carr. He has played 5 games where he was playing against Carr and has only mustered up 310 yards on 17 receptions, reaching the end zone one time. Brandon Carr provides a physical presence versus Jackson and makes the QB gamble with the Long Ball. Safeties could potentially have an opportunity to intercept one of Freeman’s throws if they try to throw their way back into this game. The question is rather the Safeties will be in position to do so. Every time there is a game-changing play made in the Secondary Gerald Sensabaugh seems to be off the field. It will be crucial that this Secondary makes plays with out him.
Special Teams will play a part in the game as well. Arrelious Benn has already racked up 180 yards on kick-off returns. Kicker Connor Barth have nailed all of his kicks, three being over 40 and one of 52 yards. How much will the kicking game come into play in Sunday? Corner back Aqib Talib has recorded a block this year for them. No one is going to want to leave points on the field.
If Tampa Bay is going to win this game, they will have to stop the run attack of DeMarco Murray and pressure Tony Romo into making mistakes. If Tony Romo stays upright the entire day, Tampa will be in trouble. Another emphasis for Tampa Bay is staying on the field and extending their drives. Try to get into a rhythm and stay balanced.