Keys To Beating The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Posted Nov 10, 2013

Finsiders analyst John Congemi provides his keys to Monday night's game against the Buccaneers.

I'm quite sure that every member of the Miami Dolphins football team has been waiting for Monday Night Football to arrive so that they can get back and focus on what they're being paid to do on the field. It's been a difficult extended game week. First, winning in dramatic fashion last Thursday night over the Bengals, and then turning around to deal with the off-the-field issues surrounding this organization. For now the players will play, the coaches will coach, and hopefully the Dolphins in the end will put together back-to-back wins to keep pace in the AFC East.

Here are some of the things I'll be looking for when the Dolphins travel to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers.

1) Focus And Execution: Success on Monday night will be more about how the Dolphins go about taking care of their individual execution and play error-free football. I do believe the players have had a great week of practice, concentrating on just their own task at hand. A lot of things can happen to a football team when adversity strikes, especially when it comes from within. The feeling from this group is “all of us against everybody else” and that can bring a team together very quickly. That's what I expect to see on Monday night when this team takes the field. I hope that it's enough to carry them through.

2) O-Line: It's never a positive when you lose two starters at any position for an extended period of time. That is exactly what this unit is facing for what looks like could be the remainder of the season. Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin are gone and others must fill the void, just as they did against the Bengals last Thursday night. Six year pro Nate Garner stepped in at left guard and played very well in the absence of Incognito. He will need to continue at that level for the remainder of the year. The extra preparation time this week will help the communication between Garner and veteran Bryant McKinnie on the left side. Tyson Clabo returned to the starting line-up at right tackle, replacing Martin last week, and looked like the week off may have helped his performance. I sure that we will see lineman Will Yeatman in multiple positions depending on the formation and personal groupings. This group will need to perform at its highest level of execution for the remainder of the season, not only to keep the newly found running game going, but to limit the hits on quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

3) Get After Glennon: If the pressure applied by the front seven of the Dolphins defense can make rookie quarterback Mike Glennon feel as uncomfortable as Andy Dalton then they will dominate the Buccaneers offensive passing game. Glennon is 6-6 and doesn't appear to have the ability to set and then re-set his feet to deliver the football accurately when under duress. The rookie quarterback is coming off of his season-best QB rating of 123.1 against the second ranked defense in the league. He is probably feeling pretty confident in his ability to build off of that performance in his first start on Monday Night Football. The big question will be can Cameron Wake and company take advantage of an offensive line that has had a different starting five in six of their eight games this season.

4) Better Defensive Tackling: This is one area of the defense that has been a problem at times for everyone. Last week's assignment was a difficult target to hit in Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, and this week it's another young runner in Mike James. James is coming off of a 158-yard performance against a Seattle defense that is usually very stout verses the run. As a team, the Bucs rushed for 205 yards in that game. Miami's task will be to surround Tampa Bay's running attack at the line of scrimmage, or behind it! Defensive tackle Jared Odrick has been a beast against the run all season long and his play, along with others, have set up linebackers Koa Misi, Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler to make plays on the ball carrier. Also, safeties Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons have done a nice job coming down from the secondary to pressure the run.

5) Continue To Mix It Up: The first half against New England and the way this offense played verses Cincinnati is the way I envisioned this unit to look like for the majority of the year with a quick passing game making Ryan Tannehill efficient and getting the ball out on time, with a little movement making his launch point a little less predictable. The key to this is running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas pacing the attack on the ground and setting up the play-action passing game while providing some explosive plays of their own. This offense has the talent to score in the high 20s each time they take the field. If they are going to string more victories together, they will need to re-create the balance and rhythm they established over the last couple of games.
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