Weekly Offensive Match Up: Tampa Bay

As previously noted, time and schedule permitting, I will try to post a weekly match-up from an offensive and defensive perspective addressing the various position battles for the week's upcoming game.  Obviously, i did not have time to post a match up of our D against the Falcons and I did not have time to post anything last week due to a very busy work schedule.    Sorry about that.  In any event, here is my take for this week. 

The Buccaneers, like our last two opponents, run a base 4-3 defense. A 4-3 defense is designed to play gap-control and it will shift to the side of the field that has either two WR's or the TE. So, if Heath is lined up on the right side and Wallace and Hines are on the left side of our formation, Atlanta's defense will call a "strong left" and shift to the left side with the LDE lined up over Heath, the SLB line up over Adams, the LDT lined up over the inside eye of Essex, the MLB is lined up in "A" gap between Pounce and Legursky, the RDT is lined up on the inside eye of Kemo, and the RDE is lined up over the outside eye of Starks. The WLB lines up on the inside leg of the RDE. Although he does not have a particular gap to fill, his job is to stop the cut-back and flow to the football in backside pursuit. Some teams use this defense in an attacking manner, where the DT's shoot the gap on the snap of the ball in an attempt to cause penetration and throw off the o-line's blocking schemes. This is usually designed to overcome a d-line's limited size and utilize speed over power. The LB's and CB's are not always on the same side of the field. The LB's will line up based on the "strength" call that is made by the MLB. The strong side LB (the SLB) will go to either the TE side when there is TE or the two WR side when we don't have a TE on the field. The CB's usually line up either based on a particular person they are covering for the game or on either field or boundary. The field corner goes to the wide side of the field and the boundary corner will play the short side of the field. The LB's responsibilities are as follows: the SLB almost always have a "C" gap, the space between the TE and the OT. The MLB is usually responsible for the strong-side "A" gap (space between the C and OG) and weak-side B gap (space between the OG and OT). As stated above, the WLB (weak-side LB) does not have gap responsibility in the base defense.

Here is Tampa Bay's depth chart:






Kyle Moore (Tim Crowder on passing downs)



Gerald McCoy



Brian Price



Stylez White (Michael Bennett on passing downs)



Geno Hayes



Barrett Ruud



Quincy Black



Aqib Talib



Ronde Barber



Sean Jones



Cody Grimm




Adams v. Moore:  Normally, I would expect Adams to drive block Moore off the line all day. In light of how our running game has not been very good in the last couple of weeks, I am hesitant to project anything other than a couple of yards per play. On passing downs, I am still concerned that a speed rusher like Crowder (6'4/260, 2 sacks this year) will pose problems for Adams. With Batch starting this week, his propensity to get rid of the ball quickly should help Adams, but this could be a real concern for us.

Legursky vs. McCoy:  McCoy is a beast.  Projected in the draft to be the next Warren Sapp, the kid can flat out play football. There is no question that Pouncey will have to help Legursky block McCoy all day in both running and passing situations. I'm sure Legursky will give 100% effort, I just think McCoy is the better athlete and football player. 

Pouncey vs. Rudd:  On almost every running play, (assuming we don't use a FB), Pounce will be expected to first throw a forearm between the hip and rib of the play-side DT and then step off to block the MLB. Pounce has this ability and should have no issues dominating Rudd. That said, Rudd is no slouch and the book on this guy is that he plays with instincts, toughness and technique and has been extremely durable during his five years in the league. I'm more concerned about Kemo and Legursky needing too much help.

Kemo vs. Price:  Price, a former 2nd round pick, is a tough and strong at the point of attack. At 6'1, 303, he is powerfully built and is known for having a very fast first step and a strong rip move that sends o-linemen flying. Kemo should not have a problem from a strength perspective, but Price's speed could disrupt our running game. We typically like to have our LG pull out and come down the line to "trap" block to open up a hole on the right side. Our trap plays have not worked in the last two weeks because the opposing defenses have penetrated too quickly and the backside DT were too quick in following Kemo when he pulled out. Expect more of the same this week if BA continues to call trap plays rather than straight-line blocking plays where our o-linemen simply take an initial "power step" and maul the 1st opposing color jersey they see.

Starks vs. White/Bennett:  At 6'3, White may cause problems for Starks in that he can "dip and rip" underneath Starks as we saw John Abraham do when we played Atlanta. White is known for his quickness and upfield acceleration, which Starks can sometimes have trouble with. Bennett (6'4/247) is also a fast-twitch type that relies on speed to turn the corner and get to the QB. Assuming Starks in 100% healthy, he should be able to shut these guys down. I know Starks gave up a sack to Abraham, but neither of these guys are Abraham's level as a pass-rusher.

Redman/Johnson vs. Atlanta's LB's:  On running plays when we have FB on the field (I know this won't be too often), our FB, be it Redman or Johnson, will have to block a LB at the point of attack. I have yet to see Redman take on a LB directly at the point of attack in this type of situation, but Johnson has been kicking butt and taking names, so my hope is that we use Redman to spell Mendy in the TB position from time to time and use Johnson as our lead blocker. Overall, Tampa Bay's LBs are nothing special, so I could see us moving well against them if we get past their DL.

Our WR's vs. Tampa Bay's DBs:  This is the strength of Tampa Bay's defense. Barber is the modern-day version of Darrell Green in that he defies his age, plays at a high level, and always seems to make a great play for the Bucs when needed. Talib is a very good young corner with great size and speed. On running plays, Jones is like another LB in the field and he is very good against the run. Finally, Tampa will have a rookie, the son of Russ Grimm, playing FS, so I can see us trying to go deep on more than one occasion. I think we have to be very careful in how we attack Tampa's Cbs because they can hurt us, particularly, Barber. That said, our WR’s are a savvy, talented group. Wallace can run past anyone and Ward is, well, Ward. In all candor, our WRs could have hurt us last week, particularly Wallace’s drop in the end-zone. ARE has been a non-factor, but the coaches seem to love him, so I expect him to get a hat, especially since he is our emergency back-up QB. I’m curious to see if we go with Brown over Sanders again this week. Did anyone see Brown on the filed as a WR rather than a kick returner?

Miller/Johnson v. Tampa's LBs:  This could be where we make a lot of our 1st downs. Miller should own Tampa's LBs on passing plays, particularly on play-action plays that freeze the LBs.  Moreover, I think Batch likes to go to the TE, but that is more of a feeling and is not based upon any research or stats. 

Overall expectation:  Odds are our running game will not be very effective moving the ball, but I have faith that we should at least be able to score some points. If BA calls a game that plays to our strength (big strong o-linemen that can move people when simply firing off the ball) rather than call traps and other plays based upon speed, we might find some big plays similar to Mendy’s game-winning run in week 1. I also expect to see Miller and our slot receiver open on crossing routes and play action. We also know our D should have another day of high intensity violence aimed at causing pain and disruption. Consequently, I see a low scoring game with the Black and Gold leaving the field victorious. I think we win 17 -6.

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