3 KEYS TO VICTORY
CATCH THE BALL
Bucs coach Greg Schiano says it all the time: Do your job. It’s one of his most oft-repeated phrases. Well, part of the job of a wide receiver, a running back and a tight end is to catch the ball, but the bulk of the Buccaneers playing those positions have struggled in that area. Tampa Bay is second in the league with 10 dropped passes, according to ProFootballFocus, and new QB Mike Glennon isn’t likely to fare any better than Josh Freeman if that trend doesn’t change. The problem isn’t that the Bucs aren’t making spectacular catches. It’s that they’re not making routine ones.
CAPITALIZE ON SCORING CHANCES
In their past two games, the Bucs moved the ball inside the opponent’s 30-yard line five times. All they have to show for it, though, is a touchdown and a field goal. Twice they missed field-goal attempts and once they turned it over on downs. The NFL makes a big deal out the red zone, the territory inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, but any team that moves the ball inside the 30 is within striking distance of the end zone and should come away with points. Even a field goal helps build momentum. Miss completely, though, and momentum shifts to the other sideline.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK
It hasn’t been all bad for the Bucs. They have the league’s second-leading rusher in RB Doug Martin (297 yards), are tied for third in sacks with 12 and are third in red-zone defense. The Cardinals have been less than adequate pass protectors so far, allowing nine sacks, and their offense has produced touchdowns on just one third of its trips inside the red zone. Getting Martin going could be a problem, though, as the one thing the Cardinals do well is stop the run. They’re third in the league.
The decision to change quarterbacks caught most players by surprise. But many seemed to agree a move of some sort had to be made to spark this team back to life, and most realize the quarterback often takes the hit. That said, many seem to think their jobs also could be on the line if a turnaround doesn’t come soon. From LT Donald Penn to CB Darrelle Revis, most players spoke as if they had a renewed focus on their individual jobs. If that is a residual effect of the decision to change quarterbacks, the Bucs might be on the brink of a turnaround.
Bucs tight ends vs. Cardinals linebackers
The Bucs tight ends haven’t done much, but this could be their day to break out. The Cardinals have struggled to stop opposing tight ends, allowing 19 catches for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Many of those yards and a couple of touchdowns came after the catch, because the Cardinals have matched LB Karlos Dansby against the tight end in their base defense and S Yeremiah Bell in dime packages. The Bucs like to use two-tight end schemes, which could open up some exploitable options in the middle of the field.
5 Questions with ... LB Jonathan Casillas
Q: According to the team media guide, your father’s name is Flash Gordon. What’s the real deal?
A: His name is Eric Gordon, but everybody calls him “Flash.’’ His ID says “Flash.’’ I don’t know when he changed it, but it’s changed. The only one who doesn’t call him “Flash’’ is my mom. She calls him “Big Eric’’ because my older brother is also named Eric.
Q: You grew up in Jersey City and New Brunswick, N.J., in the shadow of the Twin Towers. Where were you on the morning of 9/11?
A: I think it was the first day of high school in New Brunswick and I was a freshman. Everybody had the TV on as we were walking in the home room. I thought it was a joke, with the first tower smoking. I was confused, like why is everyone crying? You mean it’s for real? It was big shock for everybody. My dad used to walk through the towers to go to work, so that was a tough day for everyone.
Q: How difficult was the draft for you in 2009, coming out of Wisconsin undrafted?
A: Very difficult. I was thinking third, fourth or fifth round. My agent was saying the same thing. It was one of the toughest days of my life because my expectations were so high. It was a humbling experience because I didn’t get my first phone call until the sixth round. By the end of the day, I was able to pick between a few teams and I chose the Saints. It’s all worked out for me.
Q: How old is your daughter, Jade, and does she know what her dad does for a living?
A: She’s 2. I don’t know if she fully grasps the concept of football yet, but I think she knows the uniform and that daddy is doing something.
Q: You majored in agricultural business management. What does that mean?
A: It’s basically going to a school to learn the business of agriculture. You’re doing pigs and sows and cows.
An improved offensive effort and solid defense win the day for Tampa Bay.
A revived pass rush led by Gerald McCoy hounds Carson Palmer into mistakes.