The focus going into games tends to lean towards the team you’re rooting for, but you can never forget about the opposition. Statistics and expectations and wonderful, but the equation is never that simple. This is the first of many articles where I’ll go Behind Enemy Lines to look at what opposing teams are bringing to the table against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Weapons of Mass Destruction: Marcus Mariota, Harry Douglas, Dexter McCluster
The benefits of Marcus Mariota are more than a little overstated at this point, but that doesn’t change how good he is. Everyone’s tired of hearing about how good Tom Brady is, but that doesn’t make him any less of a quarterback.
Tennessee has been without playmakers in the past, but the Bucs will have flashbacks with former Falcon Harry Douglas in at wideout. Meanwhile, Dexter McCluster has the potential to be a playmaker in both special teams and on offense. Much of the run game will hinge on Bishop Sankey, but McCluster can’t be overlooked as a weapon.
It might just be me, but Tennessee tends to remain the most vanilla team in the league in recent years. They’re trying to change that, but the pieces aren’t there yet. Don’t underestimate the Titans, but don’t mistake them for a playoff-ready anything.
Bastions of Defense: Jurrell Casey, Brian Orakbo, Perrish Cox
The Titans have the potential to be shockingly strong on defense, but it would likely hinge on names you don’t know. The real strength of the defense could be the architect that is Dick Lebeau, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely devoid of talent.
Jurrell Casey, not unlike Gerald McCoy, is a dominant defensive tackle who tends to be overlooked because of how his team performs. I don’t believe Casey is better, but he’s still a significant threat. He’ll anchor a line that also boasts the often underrated DaQuan Jones, but they’ll be hurting with Sammie Hill out due to a knee injury.
Tennessee has a significant weakness at linebacker, but the addition of Brian Orakbo could be key in shoring that up. Perrish Cox will work to shore up what was a weak secondary in 2014, but he’s listed as questionable due to a hip injury. Lebeau may not have all of his pieces, but his gameplan could still wreak havoc.
In this league, it’s all about match-ups. The best team on paper is not always the team that walks out victorious. Quality players still get beat out by well-placed opposition. Never go into a game without understanding your enemy, and you can bet that Lovie, Leslie, and Dirk know theirs quite well. Football is a day away, my friends. Prepare yourselves.