The New England Patriots offensive line must be perfect in this week’s match up against a strong and fast Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Don’t be fooled by this Tampa Bay team just because they are trailing 0-2, because if we do, they have every chance to pull a win; considering they don’t become their own worst enemy when it comes to committing penalties.
With all the rumors and drama the Buccaneers have been facing lately, it’s easy to focus on the negativity, and a 0-2 record with both loss being such a devastation for this team, it’s easy to underrate what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense can do. Coach Bill Belichick gives an impressive view of the Buccaneers defense and its complexity which really makes me wonder – where’s the weakness in their defense and how can one outplay such a quick and strong defense with multiple mix up and rotation? One observation that comes to mind is applying a fast tempo offense and exploiting the Bucs deficiency in covering tight ends. But that’s two elements we’re lacking right now, unfortunately.
The Buccaneers defense is still a working-in-progress against the pass, but when it comes to its pass rush, they are absolutely explosive. So far, the Buccaneers have banked nine sacks with most pass rush coming from linebackers Lavonte David (2.5) and Mason Foster (2.0). Coach Belichick pointed out in yesterday’s conference call that a major part of their explosiveness not only relies on the combination of good players, but good coaching and good scheme with importance on the utilization of rotation of players.
“They’re very active up front. [Gerald] McCoy is a real hard guy to block. Really they rotate a lot of people in there; [Akeem] Spence has done a good job for them. They rotate in [Gary] Gibson and of course [Daniel] Te’o-Nesheim and [Da'Quan] Bowers and the ends; Trevor [Scott] is playing some for them in there too. They rotate those guys. They’re quick, they’re active, they really play with good technique, good pad level, they play low, they get a lot of plays from the backside because of their speed and pursuit. If you don’t do things just absolutely right against them with the offensive line or your tackles and tight ends or whatever combination blocks you’re trying to make – the whole team blocks or the zone blocks or whatever they are – they end up splitting those blocks or they eat up two guys and you can’t get one of your blockers off to their linebackers and then [Mason] Foster or [Lavonte] David or Dekoda Watson or whoever it is, one of those guys run through. They’re all very fast. Dekoda Watson is very fast and David is fast. It doesn’t really take much for them, if they get a half-step on the lineman or the fullback or a tight end who doesn’t quite have position on them then they just outrun them and track the ball carrier down. Their corners are good force players. [Leonard] Johnson is a good force player, [Darrelle] Revis is a good force player, obviously their safeties are dynamic, big hitters, explosive hitters. Even when teams do break the line of scrimmage and like you saw in the New Orleans game a couple times, they get through the line and they end up gaining six, seven yards because the safeties are right there to nail them.”
And in today’s press conference, coach Belichick praised the Bucs defense again on their quickness, their pursue power, and their ability to close open space fast; giving the offense a gain of merely 2, 5 or 8 yards. It will be interesting to see if the Buccaneers will be applying more pressure than the Buffalo Bills or the New York Jets, but Nate Solder better get a good grip and protect Tom Brady at all costs because I haven’t forgot that scary moment during training camp.
All I have to say is, it will be a very tough game for a Patriots offense that is relying heavily on the running game. Time’s up for the rookies wide receivers to step up.