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October 24, 2013 @ 7:29 am
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

SR's Pick 6: Panthers at Bucs

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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What are the six things PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds will be looking for in Tampa Bay’s home game with the Panthers coming to town Thursday night? Find out in SR’s Pick 6.
The Buccaneers (0-6) host the Carolina Panthers in a prime-time contest Thursday night desperately needing to find a way to win. Panthers QB Cam Newton has rebounded nicely from his disappointing second season in the NFL and has shown maturity and development as a quarterback. What are the six things are PewterReport.com publisher Scott Reynolds is looking for in Tampa Bay’s Week 7 game?

1. GET WELL SOON
Up until last week’s game against the Falcons, the Buccaneers had been pretty fortunate with injuries this season, with only Carl Nicks’ MRSA recurrence taking a starter out of the lineup for any significant amount of time. Sunday’s loss to the Falcons stung not only based on the final score, but also because the injury bug got both running back Doug Martin (shoulder) and safety Dashon Goldson (knee). Losing two Pro Bowl talents in the same game hurt Tampa Bay’s chances to beat the Falcons, and will also make it more difficult to defeat the Panthers on Thursday night. Tampa Bay also saw rookie nose tackle Akeem Spence go down with an injury that required a soft cast for his injured left wrist.

The Buccaneers will turn to rookie Mike James, a sixth-round selection from Miami to try and fill Martin's role as Tampa Bay's primary ball carrier. James played well considering the circumstances last week in Atlanta, but there is unquestionably a drop off in talent from Martin to James. Tampa Bay is hoping James can effectively get yards on the ground, and while no one is expecting a 100-yard effort, that isn’t a necessity to beat the Panthers. James just needs to gain positive yards, be a weapon out of the backfield and continue to do a tremendous job of picking up the blitz on passing downs.

Goldson did return for some snaps in the Falcons game but has been limited all week in practice. With Keith Tandy nursing a concussion, and questionable for the game on Thursday, the Bucs may have to turn to Kelcie McCray who filled in for Goldson in Atlanta. With Martin ruled out for Thursday night’s game the Bucs are hopeful that Goldson and Spence at least will be in the starting lineup. Trying to win without your star running back is tough enough, but trying to do so without three starters in the lineup will pose an even more uphill challenge.

2. STOP THE GROUND GAME
Of all the complaints fired at defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan’s scheme this season, no one can question the Buccaneers play against the run. So far in 2013 Tampa Bay ranks fifth in the NFL at stopping the run, giving up just 88 yards on the ground per game. The Buccaneers limited Falcons rushers to just 18 yards on 18 carries last week and will need that momentum to continue in order to win Thursday night against the Panthers.


Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has totaled 434 yards so far this season on the ground. Running back Mike Tolbert has added 147 rushing yards and quarterback Cam Newton is second on the team with 179 yards, making the Panthers one of the better rushing teams in the NFC. The Buccaneers need linebackers Mason Foster and Lavonte David to continue to play well and limit any breakout runs. The Panthers haven’t had any runs longer than 27 yards this season and the Buccaneers need to make sure they don’t allow that to change that on Thursday night.

3. CONTAIN CAM NEWTON
Newton suffered through quite the sophomore slump in 2012, but appears to have overcome his shaky play from a year ago. So far in 2013, Newton has a QB rating of 95.0 and has thrown 10 touchdowns with just five interceptions while compiling 1,331 yards through the air.

Newton’s pocket presence is noticeably better in 2013 and his accuracy has also improved (63.5 percent). The Buccaneers will need to be disciplined with their eyes and technique as Newton will sometimes appear to take off running then stop and find an open receiver. That is a sign of maturity that the Panthers coaching staff has been waiting to develop since Newton was a rookie in 2011. Pressuring Newton will also be key, and even if the Bucs can’t bring him down, just affecting his launch point and mechanics can lead to interceptions, or at the very least third-down stops.

4. NEUTRALIZE LUKE KUECHLY
When Bucs fans come into Raymond James Stadium for home games they are there ultimately to see their team win. But hardcore fans love to see individual matchups, and this game features a great one, as the Panthers offer up last year’s defensive star rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly, while the Buccaneers counter with their own stud linebacker in David. Who is the better linebacker? Fans all across the country will be able to make up their own minds, as these two up-and-comers will be on display in this nationally-televised contest.

The Panthers boast a terrific front four and they open things up for Kuechly to make big-time tackles and third-down stops. If the Buccaneers want to earn their first victory of the season it is crucial they limit Kuechly’s damage. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan must know where Kuechly is at all times and make sure Tampa Bay’s blockers get at least one hat on him on every play.

5. MAKE A DIFFERENCE ON SPECIAL TEAMS
So far in 2013 the Buccaneers special teams have been solid, but not spectacular. When a football team is mired in a six-game losing streak, creating a score, or at the very least a momentum boost, on special teams could go a long way in helping Tampa Bay secure its first win of the season.

Linebacker and special teams ace Dekoda Watson, who has two blocked punts in 2012, has been close a few times to getting to the punter so far this season, and is overdue for a game-changing play. Punt returner Eric Page, who has shown no fear while staring down oncoming tacklers racing at him full speed, has also, like Watson, been close a few times in breaking off a long punt return. If Watson, Page or any member of Tampa Bays special teams unit can come through with a “special” special teams play, the Buccaneers could very well finally achieve that so far elusive victory.

6. DON'T PLAY LIKE ROOKIES
Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and running back Mike James have proven they can play solid football so far in 2013, but now with the whole country watching, will the pressure of playing in the spotlight of a nationally-televised game be too much for the rookies? If the Buccaneers plan on walking off the field Thursday night with a win, they will need both to not only handle the expectations, but thrive in the moment.

Talking to Buccaneers players like offensive lineman Davin Joseph and Donald Penn, along with receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson in the locker room the last three weeks, all have raved about Glennon’s command of the huddle, and say he is light years ahead of where a rookie should be when comprehending the game plan put forth by Sullivan. Glennon is still a rookie, and prone to making silly mistakes, but played well enough last week in Atlanta last week for the Buccaneers to be in position to have won.

No one will confuse James with Martin, but coaches have raved about James ability to make the initial man miss and gain positive yards, leaving the Tampa Bay offense with manageable down and distances. Tough and smart, the organization hopes James can have the success that backup running Earnest Graham provided the Buccaneers at times during his career in Tampa Bay.
Last modified on Thursday, 24 October 2013 07:40
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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    seems like james is capable like d martin. making me wonder why we chose him with a freaking 1st rounder...
  • avatar


    Hey Schian Ofer6, I want something else. Show me something, anything different. I expect you to do the same predictable things you always do and get stopped at the line when you run the ball a million times into the stacked box and then try to pass on a 3rd and 8,9,10,11,15,20, then get a holding penalty, get pushed back 10 yards and try it again for an incompletion, or a 3 yard gain and then be forced to punt from the Buccaneer Deck. Then you will play zone defense (including Revis) who will be on the side with some armless rookie receiver that catches the ball with his butt cheeks and with Steve Smith matched up on our worst corner back, with no help over the top and surprise, surprise, we get a pass interference call and then an uneccessary roughness call against us, leading to Newton carving us up for over 300 yards passing and running for another 80. If you don't want to be Schian Ofer7, you need to change and change big!
  • avatar

    partly self-inflicted depth problem at safety that atlanta picked on without mercy when goldson left the field. our most capable backup safety will be watching the game at home with his buddies. the real shame of it is that as far as i can tell, Ahmad Black was not cut for reasons related to his on-field production. like talib, michael bennet, kellen winslow, he was replaced with a lesser player after the coach got tired of him
  • avatar

    @weezlemarine: good words. I would even say, the players are on a silent mutinity. They don´t complain about Shiano in public, but on the field. Falcons game: all the holds, just a few yards away from the endzone.. it just scream: WE DONT WANT TO WIN. loosing is the way to loose shiano.. The shianomik demon... a coach not worth anythning. His sheme is totally outdated, but still he acts like he wrote the holy bible of football - damn he is just..
  • avatar


    I swear I've never seen so many fairweather fans in my entire football-following life. What ever happened to supporting your team, win or lose. Many of you deserve exactly what you're getting - you don't support the team unless they're winning. Anyone can do that. I'll be damn if I go to the games and boo the team like a lot of you dilwads.
  • avatar

    @morgan...chirp
  • avatar


    WELL FOLKS WHAT A BIG MESS UP NOT TAKING LUKE KUECHLY WHEN WE HAD A CHANCE. IAM VERY SORRY GM AND THE HEAD COACH. THINGS ARE NOT WORKING OUT. LETS RESHAMPE THE ENTIRE TEAM PUT THE SPECIAL TEAMS COACH OVER THE DEFENSE AND PUT BUTCH DAVIS OVER THE OFFENSIVE AND THE INTERM HEAD COACH. LETS SEE WHAT THESE TWO COACHES CAN DO WITH ALL THE MESS IN TAMPA. IAM A DIE HARD BUC FAN FROM DAY ONE-I'VE BEEN THRU THE 0 & 26 MESS. COME ON GLAZERS MAKE THE MOVE, AND NEXT YEAR LOOK AT WHAT WE CAN DO WITH THE HIGH DRAFT CHOICE. I THINK TAMPA CAN BUILD THE OFFENSIVE AROUND TAMPA QB NOW. IN RD-1 ONE AND 2 IF WE CAN TRADE DOWN AND GET MORE DRAFT CHOICES DO IT. I THINK TAMPA IN RD-1 AND 2 COULD GET AT LEAST 4 MORE HIGH QTY PLAYERS FOR 2014. PLUS IF THE TEAM HAS A NEW COACH AND GM. MAYBE TAMPA CAN SHAKE OFF THOSE LOSING WAYS. WE NEED ANOTHER DUNGY TYPE COACH FROM THE NFL. LIKE THE FORMER BUC AND ARIZONA COACH,GO BUCS
  • avatar

    george, i'm not sure that mason foster or mark barron are a problem, so i'm not sweating the kuechly pick. i mean it's not like picking gaines adams over adrian peterson or anything. also, we can read your text just fine without the caps lock
  • avatar


    I honestly hope the Bucs lose until Schiano is fired. This has been my favorite team since I was a kid and I never miss a game, I likely won't miss a game, but I want to enjoy watching the games again and I believe that won't start happening until Schiano is gone and the needle starts pointing north again.
  • avatar


    @Morgan I am a Bucs fan and have been one for twenty years. I have seen bad but this is worse. Its worse because we have the talent but the talent is being wasted by an autocratic bully that only listens to the man in the mirror. I am not being a fair weather fan, I am being realistic. This team will be immediately better under an interim coach.
  • avatar


    you must have been in a coma during Raheem Morris's last ten games of the 2011 season.
  • avatar

    @Horse - nice one. Will be interesting to see how the coaches react to the storm around One Buc. This morning's article on NFL.com from Mike Silver was a scathing indictment towards our current coaching staff. Ugly stuff really. I wish the players the best and would love nothing more than a Bucs win. But at this point, hard to be an optimist given that each game we have gotten progressively worse.
  • avatar


    Horses Pick 6 to win the game: 1. Do not let the Coaches enter Raymond James Stadium; 2. Pass the ball and pass the ball some more. 3. Send the TE's ends for short passes and the WR's for medium length passes and put a OT back there to block for Glennon. 4. Rush six players and let the rest play man to man; 5. Go for it on 4th down anytime you are at the 50 yard line. 6. Every three series let Orlovsky play a series so Glennon can see what the defense is doing from the sidelines. Bonus; Don't give up and remember you are playing for a spot on the 2014 team.
  • avatar


    @Horse Good ones!
  • avatar


    Scott, Small favor. But at the end of you weekly Pick 6, could you give us PR's prediction?
  • avatar

    Mac our predictions are in the weekly Keys to Victory story but here they are.............PewterReport.com Predictions Gil Arcia (1-5): Panthers 33, Buccaneers 13 Mark Cook (2-4): Panthers 27, Buccaneers 21 Scott Reynolds (4-2): Panthers 34, Buccaneers 16
  • avatar


    Thanks for the reminder, Mark. After the bye I stopped reading that segment because it had the word "victory" in it. lol. I 'll be sure to look there next time!
  • avatar

    1) Disagree, BIG drop off between Martin and James? Let´s see. 2) your right, but isn´t it a passing league? i fully understand the importance and its nice to see the Bucs succeed in that area, but its more important to improve against the pass. 3) Yes and that may make it hard to play man-to-man, but with good pressure and tackling, Bucs have a chance 5) Yeah right, like Pinkstop said, maybe the coaches should pull off some unexpected stuff, trick plays etc. --- Something comes to mind: could it be, the bucs dont want to expose Revis, because they still fear the health concerns? Revis trade was.. but Bucs fans dont want to hear the truth.. forget about MRSA, the bucs are possesed by the Shianomik demon.. GoBucs!!
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