Home opener with The Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
That alone says “must win” to me, but alas…we have issues of our own so lets get started. What do we need to do to win?
Offense: Okay, the horse is dead but lets give it another whack to be sure. Offensive Line has to get there act together. Okay, now lets assume they practiced really really hard on that so Matt can pass while on his feet and not his back. I can assure you that the Buccaneers rookies on that line want to make a statement right off the bat. (Why else do you think they drafted them?) If the Offensive Line cannot hold their ground and take some, then nothing else will really matter.
Also something to consider looking over last weeks game with the Cleveland Browns at Tampa. Was looking at the numbers, and funny thing… Delhomme threw two int’s yes, but there was not a lot of pressure put on him. No sacks and only two hurrys.
My other question is why, when Cleveland had the lead for most of the game, did they not run the ball more than they did? Again, it looks like the Cleveland Running backs (Harrison and Hillis, 9 carrys each) did have a respectable game. But Mangini stuck with the passing game for whatever reason. (37 attempts). This cost him in the end. In other words Deja-Vu!
So we have to run the ball simply because it is the way we are built and I am not convinced Tampa can stop it. But if the O-Line has not solved their problems, it will be a long day tommorow.
It also seems like Matt Moore will be our starter Sunday, so you can also be certain that Tampa will try to improve on the above by pressuring him more than they did Delhomme. Again, the Offensive line is also on the spot. See Previous paragraph. This will also apply to the Red Zone Offense. Some better play calling would help. Mangini does not have two premier Running Backs. John Fox Does!
Defense:Josh Freeman on the other hand did see more pressure and in spite of getting in the end zone, rememember that it was the Tampa Defense that set up that win. So this “Sack Commitee” will have to start session. And when they attack, they better be on cue. Freeman got 34 yards on two carries against the Cleveland defense.
And Carnell Williams is back as well. Remember, this is a team that is trying to build itself as a run first team, so again, defense will be charged with stopping the run. And I think we should do a better job than we did with New York Last week.
Which leaves us with Pass Defense. We are not playing an elite passing unit this week but still, Chris Gamble is listed as Questionable so that will probably put Robert McClain into the mix a bit more. I am compelled to say this is a bad thing, but after last week, this may not make a difference. Hopefully, Meeks’ gameplan has come a ways this week and we can get the pass game covered. This should not be as challenging as last weeks debacle.
Intangibles: I am just letting the first lines in this blog sit.
Now. This is Tampa Bay and if there was any question, yes there is still some angst from the good folks in pewter and red. Don’t forget that we have handed them three consecutive losses. In my mind Tampa Bay is our truest rivals in the NFC South. No matter whatr current records are, when these two teams play, there is just something different brought out on the feild. There is a little bit more push and shove than normal. If you don’t believe me, just Listen to Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football when the topic comes up. These games are still burned in his memory for a reason.
Tampa is hungry for this win for a lot of reasons. Revenge, rivalry, and momentum.
We better show some hunger tommorow afternoon because I am not going to know what to say if we drop the Home Opener against Tampa Bay.
But for right now I would say, Pound that Ball and Keep Pounding!