The New England Patriots have their hands full in preparing to outplay the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense this week. The Bucs defense has been making their presence noted, but penalties on the both sides of the ball have been overshadowing this defense talent and scheme; otherwise, the Bucs would’ve been 2-0.
The Buccaneers defense plays very well against the run, primarily at the red zone as they created numerous negative plays for the New Orleans Saints offense. They also have reinforced their secondary with the addition of Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson; therefore it won’t be an easy game for a Patriots “novice” offense. Regardless, the Patriots must find a way to create opportunities to score or it will be a long 60 minutes. And that’s what offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has emphasized when asked during his conference call about in terms of the Buccaneers defense being productive with their red zone defense and how Patriots can get better with their red zone production.
“There is no question that this a difficult defense to do a lot of things against. They stop the run well, they pressure the quarterback, they create a lot of negative plays and long yardage situations and they do a great job in the red zone. We have to do, I think any time that you look at a small sample size of a situational football aspect of a game, you have to understand that it is a couple games, and those areas are always affected most by our overall execution when we get the opportunity. Just our attention to detail, the practice time that we put in working to improve those situations, which we do every week, we’re going to continue to do that. When we have our chances and our opportunities, we need to make the most of them. We’ve missed some great opportunities in the first couple of games, but [we're] certainly not dejected about, one, getting down there four times a game or whatever it may be, and then having the chances to score. We just have to do a better job of converting when we get our opportunities, and there is no shortcut to that. We’ve got to do the work in practice, we’ve got to get better during the week, and then we’ve got to go out there and execute when we get our opportunities on Sunday.”
It’s not only grabbing the opportunities at the red zone, but also focusing on maximizing total first downs (Patriots 35, opponents 30) and third down conversions (Patriots 15/38, opponents 10/31). However, it not only depends on the players executing the plays, but on the coaches making the right call to increase the chances of execution. One play that comes to mind is the 3rd and 1 with 2:12 remaining on the second quarter of the Jets game in which the play was called for Tom Brady to pass to Aaron Dobson. The ball went deep out of the bounce. In my opinion, there was no need to pass on a 3rd and 1 when it’s known that the rookies are having a hard time making the plays. The way I see it, if you can’t get it a first down with only 1-yard to go, then there’s some serious issues going on.
The Bucs defense will put pressure and they will create a wall. The Patriots will need to move the ball forward and they need to grab every opportunity they can get.