BUCS: THREE KEYS TO VICTORY
Pound the rock: It took half the season, but the Bucs’ offensive line finally appears to have found its rhythm as a run blocking unit. Not that Mike James’ success in gaining 158 yards on 28 carries against Seattle last week was all the result of good line play. James did an exceptional job of making extra yards after contact, falling forward and muscling his way for the hidden yards that made his afternoon so successful. He is clearly a hot back brimming with confidence and the Bucs need to feed off that. They vowed a week ago to be more balanced offensively, and if they keep their vow, the offense should be more effective.
Go West, young man: With Brent Grimes and Dmitri Patterson manning the outside corners, the Dolphins have done a good job of taking away deep passes and quick outs this year. They’ve allowed opponents to complete only about one third of their deep throws and about half of their quick outs. Each has three interceptions. Where the Dolphins have so far proved vulnerable against the pass is in the short and intermediate areas, and that’s good news for the Bucs. Rookie QB Mike Glennon has been very accurate. By utilizing more of a West Coast-type scheme that features quick slants and hitches, the Bucs should keep the chains moving. Glennon has quickly developed into a solid NFL starter and this approach should allow his growth to continue.
Choke them out: Bucs coach Greg Schiano swears the Bucs did not get conservative in their play calling after taking a 21-0 lead against Seattle. The bottom line is the Bucs added nothing more than a field goal in the second half and that wasn’t enough to hold off the Seahawks. The Dolphins also have had issues holding leads. They blew a 14-point lead in each of their past two games, though they did bounce back to beat Cincinnati in overtime last week. In a game between teams struggling to hold and build on sizable leads, the winner might be the team that plays more aggressively with a lead and down the stretch. With nothing to lose but their ninth straight game, the Bucs have to be that team.
- Roy Cummings
Bucs CB Darrelle Revis vs. Dolphins WR Mike Wallace
Lost amid all the noise about CB Darrelle Revis playing so much zone coverage is the fact he’s having a typically sensational Revis-like season. According to ProFootballFocus, Revis has limited opposing pass catchers to 116 yards on 16 receptions, an average of 7.3 yards per catch. That’s tops in the league for a player who admits he is just now starting to feel like his old self again a year after knee surgery. Good thing, too, because Revis will certainly need to be at top form today, when he likely cover the mercurial Mike Wallace. Wallace is a game changer who is at his best running deep downfield. He’s not much of a factor between the numbers, but he will test Revis’ strength and stamina, the two things Revis said have prohibited him from playing man coverages. Fans might not like it, but the Bucs could employ a lot of zone coverage to keep Wallace from burning them deep.
- Roy Cummings
QUESTIONS WITH KICKER RIAN LINDELL
Q: How good of a defensive end were you in high school?
A: I played in the All-State game as a defensive end and a tight end. I was OK. For that level, I was all right. If I would have taken it to the next step, I would have dropped off. Just being honest.
Q: How proud are you of your biology major?
A: I suppose I’d be more proud if it equaled something. Maybe in my next career. There were some classes that were fairly challenging. The only time I apply it is probably when I scratch off a scab. Maybe when I want to sound smart or something.
Q: Where and how did you propose?
A: It was on the waterfront in downtown Seattle, a place called Anthony’s. She put two and two together pretty quickly. She’s a bio major, too, and going to a nice restaurant coming out of college ... she knew something was up. She opened up a package with a white T-shirt in it that said “Will You Marry Me?’’ It worked, I’m one-for-one.
Q: You’ve missed one extra point in your NFL career. What happened in 2010?
A: It’s somebody else’s fault. It was blocked. I suppose I might have been a little slow. Some big bully from the Bears got a hand on it.
Q: You were with the Cowboys briefly in 2000. Why didn’t you stick in Big D?
A: I wasn’t good enough. I just plain got beat. I didn’t kick very well coming out of college and Tim Seder got me. I have no one to blame. I wish I did, because it wouldn’t have been as frustrating at the time. But it all worked out. I definitely had a shot and I had a Cowboys hat on, at least for a while. I had no idea 14 years later that I’d still be wearing an NFL jersey.
- Ira Kaufman
You could almost sense a sigh of relief coming from the Bucs locker room this week as the intense media spotlight shifted away from them and their problems and onto the Dolphins. For the first time in a long time, the focus of almost every conversation Bucs players and coaches had was on football and not some outside issue or distraction. It was a much-needed and welcome change for the Bucs, who actually got a bit of a confidence boost from their 27-24 overtime loss at Seattle last week. Though they were clearly unhappy with the outcome, the Bucs believe they played well enough to win in some key areas. Their feeling now is that with a minor tweak or two, they could finally get on the winning track and prove they really are a better team than their record indicates.
- Roy Cummings
Roy Cummings: Bucs, 23-13. Bucs get off to a good start in second half of season.
Ira Kaufman: Bucs, 23-17. With Warren Sapp in the house, Bucs defense leads the way.