O-Line Starting To Reach Its Potential
ANWAR S. RICHARDSONTAMPA - Tampa Bay's offensive line seemingly had failed to live up to its lofty expectations after giving up four sacks in the first two games.
Published: September 30, 2008
Published: September 30, 2008
Two games later, Tampa Bay's offensive line is starting to reach its potential.
Bucs QB Brian Griese has dropped back 97 consecutive times during the past two games and not been sacked as Tampa Bay approaches a team record.
Brad Johnson was not sacked in 160 pass attempts in 2003, the team record. Doug Williams was protected 111 consecutive times in 1979. The Bucs' current streak is next on the list.
"Brian is doing a good job of hitting open receivers and getting rid of the ball," RT Jeremy Trueblood said. "We've been busting our butt as well. Hopefully things can continue."
Tampa Bay has succeeded without G Davin Joseph, who has not played this season because of a broken foot. Rookie Jeremy Zuttah has excelled in Joseph's absence.
While Tampa Bay has done an excellent job of pass protection, the offensive line can run block, too. RB Earnest Graham has rushed for more than 100 yards in two games, while the ground game has produced at least 140 yards in three games.
Even though Tampa Bay's offensive line has jelled, players are hesitant to take full credit for the current streak.
"I think that stat is a little overrated for an offensive line," C Jeff Faine said. "I think it's more of a team stat. I think it's more about running backs, offensive line, quarterbacks and wide receivers getting open.
"It's always good for us to be able to protect the quarterback as well as we are. I think it's very important to us. We do take a lot of pride in it. I don't want to minimize it and say it's our stat, but we take a lot of pride in it."
WHEN D TURNS TO O: The Bucs have scored three defensive touchdowns, which is tied with Green Bay for the most in the league.
Tampa Bay, however, is the only team to score on both an interception and a fumble return. The Bucs have interceptions returns by CB Phillip Buchanon and DE Gaines Adams, and a fumble return by S Jermaine Phillips.
Also, their eight interceptions are tied for first with Green Bay and Tennessee.
"You can tell they're trying to score. Every time we get a turnover they're lateraling it. It looks like a volleyball game," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "They're taking it to heart. I get nervous. But I think the great defenses today, everybody judges an offense or a defense by total yards allowed or by total yards gained and that to me is hogwash.
"I think the great defenses don't give up touchdowns in the red zone. They get off the field on third down, they create impact plays, whether it be sacks or turnover, and I think the great defenses, they score themselves."
THE RUN STOPS HERE: Reggie Bush (New Orleans), Michael Turner (Atlanta), Matt Forte (Chicago) and Ryan Grant (Green Bay) have one thing in common.
None was able to rush for more than 100 yards against Tampa Bay.
After four games, Tampa Bay's defense not only has limited the production of opposing running backs, but also no team has scored a rushing touchdown.
"We have given up 100 yards rushing overall, but it's very misleading," DT Jovan Haye said. "When you look at it, it took three backs or four backs to rush for more than 100 yards.
"Our source of pride is we've seen great backs all year and to not give up 100 yards against them. You watch them the week before, and they get 150 or 200, but not against us. When Atlanta came in here, they had been doing a great job, and we knew we just could not allow that. We always try to stop the run."
INJURY REPORT: Gruden said S Sabby Piscitelli hurt his elbow in Sunday's victory and was unsure of his availability for practice and this week's game at Denver.
Tampa Bay WR Joey Galloway did not appear any closer to making a return from his hamstring injury, which has caused him to miss the past two games.
"I haven't seen him on the field practicing and he's missed an inordinate amount of snaps," Gruden said. "I am concerned about it but I'm also confident based on what he's told me that he'll be back soon."
Anwar S. Richardson