What are the six things PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer
Scott Reynolds will be looking for in Tampa Bay’s home game against
Arizona when they face the Cardinals? Find out in SR’s Pick 6.
The Buccaneers (0-3) host Arizona in search of their first win of the season and will face a banged up Cardinals defense (1-2). What are the six things PewterReport.com publisher Scott Reynolds is looking for in Tampa Bay’s Week 4 game?1. FIGHT THROUGH THE PAIN
Although Arizona’s defense has been ravaged with injuries this week, losing linebackers Lorenzo Alexander, Sam Acho and Alex Okafor for the season and likely being without safety Rashad Johnson, the Bucs offense is also banged up with tight end Tom Crabtree missing the game due to re-aggravating his ankle injury and wide receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson being listed as questionable. Williams suffered a hamstring injury in last Sunday’s loss at New England, and Jackson hurt his ribs against the Patriots.
Ideally, the Bucs need both of those receivers to be able to fight through the pain and play on Sunday to serve as viable weapons for rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, who is making his first NFL start against the Cardinals on Sunday. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s offense is based around having two big wide receivers run vertical routes and out routes and win jump balls against receivers. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, only Jackson and Williams have the size and talent to do that. The Bucs can’t trot out Kevin Ogletree, Eric Page, Russell Shepherd and Nate Byham and expect a rookie like Glennon to lead them to victory on Sunday.2. PUT DEMPS TO GOOD USE
On Monday the Buccaneers officially activated running back and Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps. Demps has had nearly three weeks to prepare and practice in Tampa Bay and the coaches should have prepared him for at least a handful of plays on offense right now. Demps has been taking most of his reps as a running back, so incorporating him into Sunday’s game on a pitch or a screen pass would be ideal, and a nice change of pace to allow Doug Martin some time to rest.
Having a silver medalist, and what the Bucs believe is the fastest player in the NFL, stand on the sidelines is like having a Ferrari sit in the garage. The Bucs need to use him on offense to help generate big plays. Through three games, Tampa Bay is one of only three teams that has failed to generate a play of 40 yards or more. Demps could help change that.3. PAGE NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO IMPRESS
In the first three games of the 2013 season, Ogletree, the team’s new third wide receiver, who is making more than $1 million per year, has only three catches for 40 yards and one touchdown. To make matters worse he has two drops and disappears for long stretches in games.
First-year wide receiver Eric Page debuted as a wide receiver on Sunday in New England and caught three passes for 55 yards. Page has already made a nice impression on special teams, averaging 7.8 yards per punt return with a 28-yarder against the Jets in Week 1, and averaging 30 yards per kick return. Page is quick and shifty and always gives top effort. With injuries to Williams and Jackson putting their availability in question on Sunday, Page has to step up and play like a starting receiver in the NFL because he may be forced into the starting lineup.4. BUCS’ SECONDARY MUST STEP UP AGAINST FITZGERALD
The Buccaneers will be facing an elite wide receiver for the first time this season in Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. With Carson Palmer at quarterback this year, Fitzgerald is back to his dominating ways with 15 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis will be matched up with Fitzgerald on most downs, but he should be matched up with him on every down for the entire game.
Yet there will be instances when the Bucs want to switch up their coverage and put Leonard Johnson on Fitzgerald, but that would create an unfavorable mismatch. Tampa Bay should want Revis on Fitzgerald every down, but should that not happen, the Bucs need Johnson to step up and shut down the Pro Bowl receiver. Tampa Bay needs to give Johnson some safety help over the top against Fitzgerald, and that means Dashon Goldson and Ahmad Black need to step up in bracket coverage and come up with interceptions or pass breakups on Sunday. Through three games, only strong safety Mark Barron has an interception for Tampa Bay’s secondary, and that needs to change.5. SCHIANO, SULLIVAN MUST PRODUCE A WINNING GAME-PLAN
With Glennon seeing his first NFL action on Sunday, the Bucs offense needs to have more imagination than it has had over the first three weeks of the season. The predictability of running on first down and having the receivers work the sidelines will play right into defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ hands. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and Greg Schiano need to formulate a game plan that will break tendencies and help Glennon.
Throwing on first downs instead of running Martin, using the tight end in the middle of the field as a weapon, and running draws with Martin on third-and-short instead of trying to pick up the first down in a two-tight end set are some simple things that can be done to aid Glennon and not make Tampa Bay’s offense so predictable. It will be interesting to see what changes – if any – Sullivan and Schiano come up with now that Glennon is in the lineup, as opposed to when Josh Freeman was under center.6. DON’T MAKE GLENNON WIN THE GAME
To say that Tampa Bay’s defense has to play well with a rookie quarterback at the helm in his first NFL start would be an understatement. The defense has to do its part and continue its streak of creating turnovers and pressuring the quarterback. More importantly, it has to hold Arizona to 16 points or less, and a pick-six would certainly take less pressure off Glennon.
The Bucs offense has had its struggles, and players like right guard Davin Joseph and fullback Erik Lorig didn’t do a great job blocking for Martin last week. For the Bucs to have any chance of winning on Sunday, Martin needs to rush for at least 125 yards. The problem is that Arizona will be stacking the box with eight defenders in an attempt to shut down Martin and force Glennon to beat the Cardinals. The Bucs can’t let that happen, and need to get an early lead on offense to prevent a tight fourth quarter situation that would force Glennon to have to win the game.
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