The Buccaneers will play host to the Miami Dolphins on Monday night in front of an already announced sellout crowd. This is a game in which the outcome can sway in either direction depending on who makes the most mistakes.
The following keys to victory can help Tampa Bay avoid embarrassment in front of a nationally televised audience and in front of a sold out home crowd.
1. Continue The Vet-Like Play
Since Mike Glennon’s first start, he has thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception in the last four contests, while posting a 94.6 quarterback rating. Last week at Seattle, Glennon almost led the Bucs to an upset victory and again showed signs of maturing as a quarterback.
Glennon has showed good awareness of when to throw the football, and at times he has even shown great awareness in the pocket by feeling the pressure and scramble out of trouble and make something out of nothing. Against the Dolphins’ 22nd ranked pass defense, Glennon should be able to exploit lapses in Miami’s pass coverage – which is the lowest ranked pass defense he has faced since his first start in Week 4 when Arizona was then ranked 26th.
2. Get To Tannehill
Pressure from the Buccaneers pass rush has declined since coming back from the bye week. Overall, Tampa Bay has failed to get to the quarterback consistently. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy leads NFL defensive tackles in quarterback hits with nine but has only recorded two sacks which came before the bye week.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill has hit the ground quite a few times this season. The Dolphins’ offensive line has given up 35 sacks this season which is worst in the league. The line is also heading into Monday night with lots of story lines surrounding it due to the Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin fallout. This could be the game where not only McCoy but the rest of the Bucs’ defensive line finally gets to the quarterback several times.
3. Jackson Has To Get Going
The Bucs’ top receiver Vincent Jackson leads the team in receptions and in receiving yards, and is on pace for a 1,000-yard season. The problem is he has been unable to haul in some receptions on crucial plays for first downs. In other words, he has been inconsistent.
Defenses have been playing him differently as of late. Jackson has seen more double teams and defensive backs alter his routes as well leading to Glennon going elsewhere. Jackson could have a big game as he has the height advantage over Miami’s Brent Grimes, who will likely be covering Jackson throughout the night.
4. Secondary Needs To Be Defensive
Tampa Bay has been able keep team’s top receivers locked down for the most part of the season as far as yard production is concerned. Part of that reason is due to the presence of Darrelle Revis but the likes of Doug Baldwin, Ted Ginn, and Harry Douglas have all had their ways with the Bucs’ defensive backfield.
The Buccaneers need to be able to prevent a potential passing attack from Miami and remember that Mike Wallace’s only game against the Bucs (2010) he had 3 catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. While it may be unlikely history repeats itself, the Dolphins’ have other receivers like Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson that can take advantage of the attention given to Wallace – and as stated previously, it’s the other options the Bucs have struggled covering.
5. Don’t Get Away From What Has Worked
It happened last week against the Seattle Seahawks. The Buccaneers played exceptional football in the first half but was noticeably different in the second half. The running game and defensive pressure they succeeded with was no longer there to close the game out and leave with a victory. This game against the Dolphins can turn into something quite similar.
If running the football is working, keep doing it. If blitzing linebackers and defensive ends are causing disruption is working, keep doing it. Whatever it may be that is called for the players to run on the field is working, the coaching staff can not get away from it. The players were put in position to win the game last week but fell short due to a change in the second half. The Bucs’ coaches should see what worked in Seattle and carry it over into the week. The question is, will the staff apply it.
Gil Arcia (3-5): Dolphins 23, Buccaneers 17
Mark Cook (3-5): Buccaneers 23, Dolphins 20
Scott Reynolds (6-2): Buccaneers 24, Dolphins 20