It’s that time once again, Panthers fans. This week Cat Crave circulated within the Fansided Network, and caught up with Patrick Nohe of the Pewter Plank, our Buccaneers blog. Actually, Nohe caught up with me, as I’ve been in a daze with classwork, homework, projects, and being a college mascot for the past couple of weeks!
This week, the Panthers travel to Tampa Bay for their fourth divisional matchup of the season. Carolina is a putrid 0-3 in division play so far this season. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that my and Patrick’s predictions are incorrect.
During their last meeting, things didn’t go so well for the Panthers, as the Buccaneers dispatched any thoughts in fans’ minds about whether or not the Bucs were still a form of what they were a year ago.
This time around, the landscape for Carolina has changed, in terms of player personnel. Matt Moore is out for the remainder of the season, Jon Beason will likely move back to his position of familiarity in the middle, and Dwayne Jarrett is a forgone figment of the imagination.
Cat Crave: How do you feel about the Bucs going into Sunday’s game at Carolina? Is there a feeling of confidence or uncertainty?
Patrick Nohe: I wouldn’t necessarily call it confidence yet, this Bucs team is still learning to win and sustain winning. But there is an air of optimism about this team right now that they’re heading the right direction and things are going to keep improving. I don’t think the Bucs will have a feeling of confidence until they prove they can beat a good team. They came close last weekend, but they’re not quite there yet.
CC: A year ago, the Bucs looked to be a franchise in disarray. One draft and an offseason later, and Tampa Bay is in the thick of things for the division race. Did you expect such a quick turnaround for the Bucs?
PN: Nope. I wasn’t even sure the Bucs had the right guys for the job, frankly. I won’t lie, the Bucs have made it back to relevance on the shoulders of some thrifty personnel moves, but more than that some luck. They’re starting two rookie receivers, a rookie left guard, rookie running back and rookie fullback with a second year QB. That is not the formula for success in the NFL. A lot of these guys aren’t even players the Bucs drafted, RB LeGarrette Blount and LG Ted Larsen were signed after being cut by other teams in training camp. Lorig, the FB was a 7th rounder the Bucs drafted at D-end. A lot of moves the Bucs made this year have really worked out better than anyone could have hoped.
CC: A week ago, coach Raheem Morris proclaimed that the Buccaneers were the best team in the NFC. While I find some faults in that statement, how about the most competitive team with a shot to win the division?
PN: I think a lot of people missed the point of Morris’ comments. He needed to put his team’s backs to the wall and he did just that. The Bucs could either stand up and defend that sentiment or they would face embarrassment. So far they’ve come out and swung back. They won in Arizona and nearly beat Atlanta. Raheem Morris is a great motivator, and he gets his players fired up and ready to go out and hit someone. But that’s a double-edged sword because they tend to become undisciplined and play reckless a lot of the time too. That comes from the coach. To me that proclamation was kind of a microcosm of his coaching style, it was a little bit reckless but it got his guys fired up.
CC: What must the Panthers do to try and pull out a win against the Bucs?
PN: The Bucs, as I mentioned, are not a disciplined team. They will give Carolina chances to hurt them, they’ll commit penalties (Jeremy Trueblood, the team’s most penalized player will be back Sunday), they’ll probably have a dumb turnover or a big sack at a bad time and you can count on at least a couple of defensive breakdowns. The Panthers absolutely have to get points out of those opportunities. The other thing is Carolina has to run the ball. The Buccaneers secondary is much better than it’s 12th-best-in-the-NFL statistical ranking. They are handcuffed every week by lack of a pass rush (6 sacks in 8 games) and the constant threat of the play-fake (because the front seven doesn’t stop the run) and yet the secondary still makes a lot of big plays. Don’t try to win the game by throwing against the Bucs secondary. If you have to throw, the linebackers can’t cover, go after Ruud. Control the clock, grind it out against the 30th ranked NFL run defense and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves and the Panthers could pull off an upset.
CC: What must the Bucs do to keep Carolina a one-win team? Your prediction?
PN: The Bucs need to maintain their composure and avoid the mental errors that have plagued this team. Offensively the team just needs to be effecient. No stupid penalties, keep it in third and manageable and run the ball with LeGarrette Blount. Defensively, they need to scheme to come after Clausen and fluster the rookie into sacks and bad decisions. The Bucs front seven has been awful this year but they played well in Carolina earlier this season, they need to have a big game stopping the run and getting after the rookie quarterback. Basically it just comes down to the Bucs need to handle their business and take care of their responsibilities. If everyone does their job, the Bucs should win. I don’t think it will be as lop-sided as you predicted though. I’m predicting 24-13, Buccaneers.
Thanks to Patrick for helping us out with this week’s edition of “Through the Enemy’s Eyes.” Please make sure to check out The Pewter Plank, and my responses to Patrick’s line of questions in regard to our Panthers!