Bucs versus Jags (Remember…No Show Tonight!)
Well folks, this week we get to see if our offensive line can actually perform 1’s on 1’s. The Jags bring a heavy defense with a penchant for gobbling up scared running backs and nervous quarterbacks. The pass defense from last year was stout, checking in at 5th in the league. Opportunistic and quick while maintaining the hard edge that is personified by their coach the Jags have always played the Buc tough. it is hard to forget the last matchup in RayJay with the Jags when the Bucs defense held the skittish FAMU Alum, Quinn Gray to 100 yards passing. Despite this effort, the Jags managed to hand the Bucs their first loss at home.
This week has pretty much sucked in Bucland. Tanard Jackson hits the pine on suspension (4 weeks) for a banned substance and most recently, Aqib Talib’s run in with the law in Tampa. This leaves an already depleted group in serious need of help. Will Allen will step up to try and fill the shoes of Jackson while the Bucs are getting Jermaine Phillips back up to speed on playing safety in the new Bates system. At corner, the story is just as bleak. Serious questions swirl about Ronde Barber’s ability to play as the #2 CB in this defense. He is the most experienced of the lot, but with the focus on bump and press coverage, Ronde’s physical skills may not allow him to remain in this position. Elbert Mack has stepped up nicely sliding Ronde to the nickle corner position, but with Talib out, we are left with a pile of ‘less than ideal’ replacements. Torrie Cox would seem a logical choice, but his poor play in week 1 has opened up the door to draft pick E.J. Biggers and the rest of the CB crew.
If I were Jacksonville I would be excited about throwing the ball this week. If they are not throwing the ball (off the arm of David Garrard or newly hot Todd Bouman), there is the always hot MJD (Maurice Jones-Drew) to contend with. This running game only amassed 66 yards total against the Dolphins, but has historically been very stout. The astute fan may notice the hand of Mike Shula in this offense which may be an explanation of the ineptitude in the passing game.
Jack Del Rio has run a tight ship and put good defenses on the field. Though they did not look stellar against the Dolphins, the Jags are a formidable foe. This game should provide us answers to:
- The quarterback depth chart
- The DLine rotation and depth
- Linebacker stack rank (Flip going to slip back to safety with the T.Jack issue?)
- Left guard concerns (Was Zuttah’s bad game an aberration? Do we have anyone better? Um…No)
From a WTB? perspective, we need to see something…anything out of the offense showing a spark. We also need to see more splash from the defense and above all else, we need a lawyer on staff for the Bucs. If not for contract negotiation (yuk yuk) then for the various transgressions we may face this year. How Coach Morris handles this will weigh in heavily on the rest of the year.
Matchups to Watch
- Bucs battered and legally challenged secondary vs. the Jaguars passing game
- We call out E.Mack below, but will need at least one other player to step up. Will it be Biggers or Arrington?
- Bucs defensive line vs. the Jags pass blocking
- Can Stylez G. make it two weeks in a row or will Gaines step up and avoid the “Bust” tag people are shouldering him with?
- Bucs QB’s vs. Jags Defense
- Luke has one last shot to prove that what he shows in practice he can duplicate under the lights. If he fails here, he may need a ticket out of town.
- Offense: D. Ward
- Defense: E. Mack
- Offense: Byron Leftwich
- To stick it to the ‘man,’ who, in this case, is his old team.
- Defense: Tanard Jackson
- He will show the team what they will miss for four weeks.
Again, we always pick the Bucs to win in an attempt to avoid negative Karma on the team. In preseason, we are not really that interested in the score but more on how the team is coming together (or IF the team is coming together). This has been a rough week with one suspension confirmed and another waiting for legal action.
Bucs win, 20 -17
If the offense can get its crap together and the secondary can find someone to wear a uniform AND cover receivers AND tackle, I see it ending well. The QB battle will be clarified as Byron shines versus his former squad putting the final nail in Luke McCown’s starting spot hopes. The team will face a serious debate about which three quarterbacks to keep after another strong outing by Josh Johnson.
Bucs win 30 – 13