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Saturday, Aug 23, 2014

Bucs-Patriots: Keys to the game

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Published:   |   Updated: September 22, 2013 at 12:14 AM

FINISH BETTER

Clearly the defense has to do a better job late in games. Say all you want about penalties and shaky quarterback play, the bottom line is the Bucs are 0-2 because they twice failed to protect a lead in the final minute of the game. That said, the leads were slim — two points and one point. So, the offense doesn’t get a pass. On their finals drives against the Jets and Saints, the Bucs got conservative and settled for field goal tries when a more aggressive approach might have produced a game-clinching touchdown or chance to run out the clock. Playing to win often results in a win, while playing not to lose often results in a loss.

STOP THE RUN

That’s right, stop the run. Everybody worries so much about stopping quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots’ passing attack they sometimes make stopping the run secondary. That can’t happen. Much of what New England does offensively is built around its running game. The Patriots ranked second in the league in rushing attempts last year and are seventh this year. With Brady seemingly struggling to develop a good working chemistry with his band of new and inexperienced receivers, there is a good chance they’ll lean on the running game. The Bucs have been very good against the run the past two years, and this is no time to let up.

PLAY WITH MORE DISCIPLINE

Only two games into the season, the Bucs have been penalized six times on defense for personal fouls and 10 times on offense for pre-snap mistakes. The personal fouls allowed opponents to extend drives and create points, while the pre-snap penalties not only derailed drives but literally took points off the board. When the Bucs hired coach Greg Schiano last year, it was largely because they needed someone to not only change the culture, but instill discipline. That’s supposed to be one of Schiano’s strengths, but the Bucs have not been a disciplined team this year. And it is costing them yards, points and games.

Key matchup

Bucs CB Darrelle Revis vs. Patriots QB Tom Brady

It’s not often a team can say it has an edge against Brady, but the Bucs might be able to this week. With a corps of mostly young and inexperienced receivers, Brady has not looked like his usual self. Now, here comes Revis, who seems to have regained his Pro Bowl form after knee surgery. Revis has allowed only .38 yards per cover snap, according to ProFootballFocus. Last week, he gave up just eight yards in allowing Drew Brees to connect on three of the five passes thrown Revis’ way. If the Bucs put Revis on Julian Edelman, it will all but force Brady to lean on the youngsters in his passing attack. On the other hand, Brady has done far more with far less in the past.

5 Questions with ... Bucs DT Derek Landri

Q: What was it like growing up in Huntington Beach, Calif?

A: I enjoyed it, getting into longboarding and being on the water, I used to get a bucket of chicken and hit the beach. I never got into football when I was younger. It was basketball, baseball and soccer.

 

Q: How often do you tweet?

A: I’ve got no Twitter account and no Facebook. I’m a history and computer major. I’m a simple man who can’t stand social media. I think it’s the downfall of our society.

 

Q: How often did you feel the tradition of Notre Dame football?

A: It was never far away when I was in South Bend. You knew what you represented when you went there. Lots of pictures on the wall and lots of tradition. But I was used to it. My high school, De La Salle, won 151 games in a row from 1992-2004. I was there from 1998-02.

 

Q: You started 16 games for the 2010 Panthers and played well. Then what happened?

A: I led the league in tackles for loss for defensive tackles that year, but the lockout came and 500 free agents hit the market. That hurt me, hurt a lot of guys. I got picked up by Philly, then cut. The Panthers paid a few guys, but they also let a lot of guys go.

 

Q: How old is your son and would you let him play football down the road?

A: My son is a year. I don’t know about football yet. We’ll see where the game is at that time. I’m not going to let him play when he’s younger. I’ll make sure he’s tough and what he needs to do about being a good person and a strong man, but most of the coaches in Pop Warner don’t know what they’re doing in the first place. In high school, once I feel he’s able to handle the stuff, I’d probably allow him to play.

 

The Picks

ROY CUMMINGS

Patriots, 28-13

The Patriots are suddenly vulnerable, but not as much as the Bucs.

IRA KAUFMAN

Patriots, 24-20

Tom Brady wills his injury-riddled team to another victory and a 3-0 start.

The Vibe

The first thing Bucs coach Greg Schiano said to his team when it gathered for its weekly team meeting on Monday was a word of caution: “Don’t let the Saints beat you twice in seven days.’’ That was his way of telling the players to put a tough loss behind them and they appeared to do so quickly. On what is normally a player’s day off, more than half the Bucs squad showed up for film study or personal workouts on Tuesday. By Wednesday the atmosphere in the locker room was extremely positive, according to QB Josh Freeman. By Friday, most of the players were concentrating on another Schiano message: “Do your job.’’ That mantra simplifies each player’s task and rids them of any feeling the outcome rests on their shoulders.

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