The Eagles head down to Tampa to play the Bucs on Sunday.
Or do they? Tampa is dealing with a bizarre health issue. They had to bring in a specialist to check out the MRSA situation they’re dealing with. 3 players now have it. The Bucs are working with the NFL, the NFLPA and medical people on how to deal with the situation. There was speculation that Sunday’s game might be postponed. Geoff Mosher reports that the league is planning for the game to be played as scheduled.
The Eagles don’t leave for Tampa until Saturday morning so the events haven’t affected the team to this point. This is a very odd situation. Hopefully it won’t impact the game or the Eagles.
* * * * *
Let’s talk about the Bucs in a general way.
They are 0-4, but 3 of the losses were tight games.
NYJ 18 , TB 17
NO 16 , TB 14
ARZ 13 , TB 10
The Bucs did lose 23-3 to the Pats.
They are 31st in the NFL in yards and points. They haven’t scored more than 17 points in a game.
The defense is good. They’re 8th in scoring D and 13th in yards allowed.
Anyone having flashbacks to the 1991 Eagles?
You can’t call the Bucs a good team. The 4 losses are close, but still losses. But focusing purely on results can give you a false result. Tampa had late leads in all 3 of the close games. They are a handful of plays from being 3-1.
Watching the tape leaves you scratching your head. There are some moments when you are really impressed. There are other times when they do look like an 0-4 team. There is something building in Tampa, but they don’t seem to have the right coach or QB. And the NFL is all about the coach and the QB.
The Bucs want to be a tough, physical team that runs the ball. And not in some fancy-pants spread look. They want to run the ball like teams did it 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Doug Martin is the very definition of a workhorse RB. He has 100 carries. There are 3 backup RBs. They each have a single carry. 100 carries for the starter. 3 for the backups. Even Andy Reid didn’t let things get that out of whack.
Martin was great last year. He’s averaging 3.4 yds per carry this year. He has one carry of 20 or more yards. They literally move the chains a few yards at a time. The offense is flat-out boring. I love a good run game, but the Bucs show no creativity and they don’t have the players to simply dominate the guys across from them.
The passing game isn’t much better. They have 12 plays of 20 yards or more. Zach Ertz and Brent Celek have combined for 9 by themselves. DeSean Jackson has 11 all on his own. You just can’t score points by methodically moving up and down the field. We’re mad at the Eagles for struggling in the Red Zone. The Bucs would love to have that problem. They struggle to get to the Red Zone. The Bucs have 4 offensive TDs this year. 4!!! Peyton Manning can fart and he’s got 2 TD passes.
Mike Glennon is the rookie QB who has taken over for Josh Freeman. Glennon has good size. He throws the ball well and has a strong arm. He made a couple of impressive throws in his debut. He is a classic pocket passer. He needs good protection. That is complicated by the fact he’s a rookie and it takes him longer to make his reads and get the ball out. He was 24-43-193 in his first start. There were a lot of short passes. I really wish he wasn’t coming off the bye. One week isn’t going to make a significant difference with him, but it should help. He’s had time to study tape and get more mentally prepared for the challenge of being a starting QB.
There is one pass catcher to fear, Vincent Jackson. He’s 17-292 for the season. Jackson is huge and talented. Mike Williams has been more of a possession guy this year, but does lead the team with 2 TD catches. They don’t use the TE much in the passing game.
The OL was hard for me to judge. I watched the Cardinals game. Arizona has a great run defense this year and they dominated the LOS. The Bucs got very little push. The Cards sold out to stop the run so that wasn’t a favorable situation. The Bucs weren’t great in pass pro, but Glennon generally had time to throw.
Tampa’s defense is interesting. They cock the NT so that he’s on the shoulder of the C and can fire upfield at the snap. That used to be common, but isn’t anymore. The Bucs do a ton of stunting and looping. They confuse the heck out of blockers with all that movement. However, it leaves them vulnerable. If they guess run, you can burn them.
DT Gerald McCoy is really good. He’s exceptionally quick and very disruptive. Sometimes all the movement neutralizes his ability since he’s moving laterally and not exploding upfield. I don’t think the Bucs are maximizing his ability at all. The DL plays the run well, but struggles to get pass rush. Tampa has 13 sacks this year, which sounds great. But 7 of the sacks are from LBs/DBs. Their DL does not get regular pressure with a 4-man rush. They must blitz.
The good news for them is that they have talented LBs who can make plays. Lavonte David leads the team with 3 sacks and 3 TFLs. MLB Mason Foster has 2 sacks. LB Dekoda Watson also has a sack. All 3 guys have INTs this year. They can cover and they can play the ball well. David is the star of this unit.
Last year Tampa had an awful pass defense. They traded for CB Darrelle Revis, drafted CB Johnthan Banks and signed S Dashon Goldson. That is a lot of firepower to add and it is paying off. The Bucs were 27th in opposing passer rating last year. They are 8th this season. You can no longer throw at will on them.
Fran Duffy, a must-follow on Twitter, wrote a great piece for PE.com on the Bucs defense and some of the different things they do schematically. You must check this out. Lots of good All-22 looks at how they use their DBs and LBs. The piece opens with some stuff from last week’s game, but I’m assuming reading about the Eagles beating the Giants is something you can suffer through one last time.
Jimmy Bama, who is a must un-follow on Twitter, wrote about QB Mike Glennon and how he struggled with the blitz in the Arizona game.
I’ll write a preview for Saturday, with some X’s and O’s thoughts.