Let’s not kid ourselves. This years Bucs squad is not rife with talent. Sure, there are some bright spots, but most importantly, the team has gotten younger and seem to be committed to getting the young investments game time. Today against the Eagles is no different than any other game this season. The talent Philly brings to the game is immaterial. In some ways, scheming against it is a waste of time. The Bucs, at this crossroad, must focus internally rather than externally. The staff has to evaluate the talent here and determine where the most glaring holes are and then try to go and fill them. In order to accomplish this task, the coaching staff must be able to drive the roster to perform at their highest possible level.
Against Philly, on the surface we are over matched to a level we have not seen since the Giants walked into Ray Jay and kicked sand in our team’s face. The Eagles, coming into the year (as usual), were considered a favorite in the NFC. “Always the bridesmaid,” rings in my ears as the boys in green normally find a way to screw up a pile of talent, but this year, even with an injury to underrated (though oft injured) Donovan McNabb, the Eagles train has continued to roll. Coach Andy Reid has added some new wrinkles to the offense with a hybrid Wildcat package and new defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott has continued the aggressive development of the recently departed Jim Johnson’s defensive scheme. Talent. Good coaching. Oh yea, one other thing.
A soft schedule so far.
We don’t know how good the Eagles are folks. They beat the sense out of a Carolina squad who is every bit as bad as we are. Their much maligned (and rightfully so) QB was sacked 5 times and threw 5 interceptions on that day leading to a 38-10 Eagles victory. They got a chance to prove their muster against the other darling of the NFL, the New Orleans Saints. This was not pretty. The New Orleans Drew Breeses (yea, I am tired) hung 48 on the Eagles defense while limiting the McNabb-less offense to 22 points. Turnovers were key as reserve Kevin Kolb put up big numbers in every category, including the bad ones. Well, no better cure for a bruised ego than a game with Kansas City. The men in green trounced the hapless Chiefs and their overpaid, over-hyped new QB 34 – 14. So, in review, they beat the Panthers and the Chiefs and were soundly thumped by the Saints.
Yes. I know I am digging. Yes, I know that the Eagles have more talent in almost every skill position than we do. Yes, I know that their coaching staff is performing at a level FAR in excess of ours (that was kind). But, that all being said, I believe every time we step on the field there is a chance. Today, that chance relies on the following keys:
- 4 Quarters of effort – This team has yet to put together a full game of consistent effort. Call me crazy, but it must start here and this is on the coaching staff.
- Discipline (particularly on defense)– With the Eagles, the discipline on gaps and run fits is even more critical than normal. The looks they will give on defense are equally confusing. S. Mahan will have to have a great game to hope to provide Josh Johnson some time to get rid of the football.
- Aggression (particularly on offense)– We have NOTHING to lose. Like Jimmy McGinty said in the Replacements, “There is no tomorrow for you, and that makes you all very dangerous people!”
The Eagles weapons are mostly well known. One weapon that some have overlooked is Brent Celek. He leads the squad in catches and has two touchdowns to go with his 245 yards receiving. With our young LB crew, the TE position has been a problem for us. Add to that the speed of DeSean Jackson who currently averages 21.6 yards per reception and over 19 yards every time he touches the ball. That is sick and does not even touch on the threat of the players Philly lines up at TB. This list includes Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson. This offense will take shots and make your defense wonder where the hell the ball is going.
How do we combat that? Discipline. Misdirection works against over-aggression. Our young defenders must have listened to the staff about their keys and they must read them and react. They cannot try to out think this offense. When a team is aggressive as teh Eagles are, there are opportunities for big plays across the line of scrimmage. On defense for us, that means we should be able to, schematically, bait McNabb and crew into a read and then jump the play. Ronde practically made a career out of this against Donovan. I think our safeties can come up big today using this process. The Eagles like to press the ball downfield. This will open their receivers up to some big hits and the team up to turnovers.
On offense, Josh Johnson must make the blitz reads and get rid of the ball. They will bring EVERYTHING at the young signal caller. He must keep a level head and realize that a 1:1 in the NFL should be advantage OFFENSE. The receivers and backs must beat their singles and convert on those opportunities.
I hope to see a big day from the big hearted Cadillac Williams. This guy has impressed me with his comebacks, determination and hard running style. Coach Olsen claimed this week that he would get more touches and I think that can only mean good things for the team. I hope his body can hold up to the pounding. On defense, I like Will Allen to step up. Even with Tanard Jackson coming back from his four game suspension, Will has quietly been playing very well. He has some experience back there and could find himself in position to be a game changer today.
Paizan comes through again
In preparartion for this week, our resident parody writer has done it once again. Check out the most recent song by Paizan, “Fly By the Eagles”