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
Philadelphia when the team faces the Eagles? Find out in SR’s Pick 6.
The Buccaneers (0-4) host Philadelphia in search of their first win of the season and will face an injury-hit Eagles team (2-3) that will likely be playing without QB Michael Vick. What are the six things PewterReport.com publisher Scott Reynolds is looking for in Tampa Bay’s Week 6 game?1. MATCH THE EAGLES’ TEMPO ON DEFENSE
Under Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly, the Eagles offense gets off each play an average of 12 seconds after the previous play ends. This causes problems for opposing defenses when it comes to getting set and properly aligned, making substitutions, and audibling. Tampa Bay has struggled at times getting the right call in from the sidelines and getting the defense set – and that was against teams like New England and New Orleans that increase the tempo to a hurry-up style of play. But what Philadelphia does is take the tempo to a break-neck speed faster than any other offense in the league, and that makes the Eagles offense so tough to defend.
Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and head coach Greg Schiano have had five regular season game films on Kelly’s offense to watch, and two weeks to prepare for the Eagles due to the bye week. If the Bucs defense gets caught flat-footed with substitutions or a defensive call, that’s on the coaches at this point in time. Tampa Bay should be fully prepared for Philadelphia’s tempo coming off a bye week.2. DON’T FALL BEHIND PHILLY
The Eagles come into Sunday’s game with the second-most prolific offense in the NFL in terms of yards per game with 454.8, which is ahead of Green Bay (453.2) and just behind Denver (489.8). Philadelphia ranks sixth in total points with 135 through five games, an average of 27 points per game. The sad reality is that the Buccaneers haven’t scored more than 23 points in any contest in any of the past 11 games dating back to last year. In fact, it took overtime against Carolina in Tampa Bay’s 10th game of the year for the Bucs to score 27 points.
The Bucs will have to attack the Eagles with tremendous teamwork. That means the defense has to keep Philly about 10 points under their season average and the offense has to score at least 20 points to succeed. That could be a tall order for two reasons. The first of which is the fact that the Bucs are only averaging 8.2 points per game on offense. The second factor is rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, who only generated 10 points in his rookie debut against Arizona in Week 4. The Bucs can’t afford to fall behind early and get put into a situation where the team’s rookie quarterback has to rally Tampa Bay for a chance at victory.3. BUCS NEED MISTAKE-FREE MIKE
Glennon looked solid in his first three quarters of action in his first NFL start against Arizona. The North Carolina State product got the Buccaneers out to an early 10-0 lead thanks to a touchdown pass to Mike Williams. Tampa Bay had control of the game until the fourth quarter when a fumble by Doug Martin and two costly interceptions by Glennon allowed Arizona to rally for the win in the closing minutes of the Week 4 battle.
The Bucs need Glennon to play mistake-free football on Sunday, as Tampa Bay can’t afford to lose any critical possessions against an offensive juggernaut like Philadelphia. The first rule of football is don’t beat yourself, which is what the Bucs have done plenty of in losing their first four games of the season. It’s not that Glennon has to come out and throw four touchdowns to beat Philadelphia. He simply can’t throw any interceptions and give the Eagles’ deadly offense the ball back.4. TAMPA BAY’S DEFENSE MUST RISE TO THE OCCASION
There was a time when the legendary Bucs defense under Monte Kiffin would rise up and take on the challenge of stopping prolific offenses of the late 1990s and early 2000s, such as Brett Favre’s Packers, Daunte Culpepper’s Vikings and Kurt Warner’s Rams. Star players like linebacker Derrick Brooks, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, safety John Lynch and cornerbacks Donnie Abraham and Ronde Barber would all step up and make big plays in those big games.
Against Arizona, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy made a big sack and recovered a fumble to help set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown. Cornerback Johnthan Banks had his first NFL interception in the end zone against Carson Palmer, and fellow cornerback Darrelle Revis also had his first pick as a Buccaneer. Tampa Bay’s linebacker corps was noticeably quiet, however, and that has to change.
The Bucs need all their stars to come out and shine against the Eagles offense. That means free safety Dashon Goldson, defensive end Adrian Clayborn and linebackers Lavonte David, Mason Foster and Dekoda Watson, and the defensive stars from the Arizona game must all rise up and make splash plays against Philadelphia. Whether it is a sack, a forced fumble, an interception, a safety or a critical tackle or pass breakup on third down, Tampa Bay’s defense must pay homage to the legends that came before it and put on a show.5. GET DEMPS MORE INVOLVED TO HELP MARTIN
The Eagles are going to do everything they can to follow the Cardinals’ blueprint in Arizona’s 13-10 victory over Tampa Bay. The Bucs were unable to run the ball with Doug Martin against eight and sometimes nine defenders in the box. Martin carried the ball 27 times and averaged just 1.7 yards per carry. By stuffing the run and limiting Martin, the Cardinals forced Glennon into obvious throwing situations on third downs.
To help take some of the workload off Martin’s shoulders and present the Eagles defense with a change of pace, Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan needs to get running back Jeff Demps involved in the game plan and give him 10-12 touches on offense. Demps had a 14-yard run and an 8-yard reception against Arizona, and should be utilized on some toss plays, some screens and shovel passes against Philadelphia. Demps could also be deployed in the slot as a receiver and create a mismatch in the passing game against a linebacker or a safety. 6. TAMPA BAY MUST FINISH ON DEFENSE
The Buccaneers have had a notorious time losing close games. In fact, the Bucs are only 3-8 in the eight games decided by a touchdown or less under Greg Schiano, including a 0-3 mark this season. One of those losses was a 23-21 defeat at the hands of the Eagles on the last play of the game last year. Foles hit wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with the game-winning touchdown pass on the final play of the game and rally the Eagles from a 21-10 fourth quarter deficit.
As well as the Tampa Bay defense is playing this year, it has struggled in the final minutes of games. The Bucs held a slim fourth-quarter lead in losses at New York, against New Orleans and versus Arizona before a field goal by the Jets, Saints and Cardinals turned Tampa Bay victories into defeats. Sheridan must scrap the prevent defense and dial up some pressure in the closing minutes against Foles if the game is close and coming down to the final minutes. Without pressure, Foles has already proven that he can engineer a comeback against the Bucs.
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