Breaking Down The Buccaneers

Posted Nov 8, 2013

Examining the Dolphins opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

THE BUCCANEERS’ STRENGTH ON OFFENSE: Tampa Bay’s offense struggled with Josh Freeman early this season, but there have been signs of progress under new quarterback Mike Glennon. The third-round pick from North Carolina State has a big arm and can get the ball deep. The Buccaneers have one of the premier wide receiver in the league in Vincent Jackson, who is on pace for 86 catches and 1,268 receiving yards. He has given the Dolphins problems in the past, with 100-yard performances in his last two meetings against Miami while a member of the San Diego Chargers.

THE BUCCANEERS’ QUESTION MARK ON OFFENSE: Glennon’s progress notwithstanding, the Tampa Bay passing game still ranks among the worst in the NFL. The Bucs are 31st in the NFL in passing yards per game and last in passing yards per play. It doesn’t help that starting wide receiver Mike Williams was lost with a season-ending injury. With Williams gone, the biggest threat in the receiving corps outside of Jackson has become tight end Tim Wright. Running back Doug Martin hasn’t been nearly as effective in 2013 after a tremendous rookie season and he’s out with a shoulder injury, but former University of Miami back Mike James is coming off a 158-yard performance in the overtime loss at Seattle.

THE BUCCANEERS’ STRENGTH ON DEFENSE: The Buccaneers’ big move of the offseason was trading their first-round pick to the New York Jets to acquire perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, and the move has paid off to a certain degree. With Revis in the lineup, the Bucs have gone to having the 32nd-ranked pass defense in the league to one that’s ranked in the middle of the pack. Revis has the ability to shut down a receiver one-on-one and it will be interesting to see if the Buccaneers choose to match him up against a particular Dolphins player (likely Mike Wallace).

THE BUCCANEERS’ QUESTION MARK ON DEFENSE: Even with Revis, the Bucs have had some issues in pass defense. Opposing quarterbacks have been able to complete 65.7 percent of their passes and put together a 94.2 passer rating, which actually is higher than the 93.5 opponents compiled last season. The run defense ranks in the middle of the pack, which is a step back from the 2012 season when the Bucs led the league both in rushing yards allowed per game and per play. In essence, Tampa Bay hasn’t allowed as many yards passing this season because opponents have had better success running the ball.

THE BUCCANEERS’ STRENGTH ON SPECIAL TEAMS: The Buccaneers lost placekicker Connor Barth when he sustained a knee injury during a charity basketball game in the offseason, so they turned to veteran Rian Lindell. The former Buffalo Bills kicker has responded to the challenge, making 11 of 13 field goal attempts in the first half of the season. Lindell will enter the game Monday night having made his last nine attempts over the last five games. Eric Page has shown some explosiveness as the punt return, with a 40-yard return against the Philadelphia Eagles.

THE BUCCANEERS’ QUESTION MARK ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Punter Michael Koenen, a longtime member of the Atlanta Falcons, did not have a good first half of season. He’s averaging only 43.1 gross yards with a net of only 37.9. Hurting Koenen’s net average are his four touchbacks (against only nine punts inside the 20), as well as a 71-yard return against the Buccaneers.
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