Keys to Victory
Eagles RB LeSean McCoy is the most explosive weapon in the most destructive rushing attack in the league. He has a rare blend of speed, power and balance, but his biggest asset might be his ability to gain extra yards by making tacklers miss. McCoy has touched the ball 111 times (98 rushes, 13 receptions) and, according to ProFootballFocus, has made a would-be tackler miss on 22 of those touches. That's the fourth highest total in the league. McCoy averages 2 yards for every miss, so it's imperative the Bucs do a good job of tackling and limits those extra yards. The Bucs spend a lot of time working on fundamentals such as tackling and this is a game where the fruits of their labor can make a big difference in the outcome of the game.
ATTACK PHILLY'S WEAKNESS
The Bucs are looking to put a renewed emphasis on their deep passing game and their timing couldn't be better. The Eagles have the league's 29th-ranked pass defense and poor play by the safeties has hurt them. Opponents have a passer rating of well over 100 when throwing deep against the Eagles and safeties Nate Allen and Patrick Chung. Rookie QB Mike Glennon has the arm strength and the accuracy necessary to extend that trend, and WRs Chris Owusu, Tiquan Underwood and Jeff Demps have the speed to help. Big gains, or what league insiders now call “chunk yards,'' on any play is a strength of the Eagles offense. And the Bucs have the ability to match that strength.
This is fast becoming a worn-out cliché, one the Bucs are no doubt tired of hearing. But the simple truth is the Bucs might be 3-1 had they been able to finish better. Tampa Bay has allowed a lead — and therefore a possible victory — to slip away in the waning minutes in three of their four losses. But not just the defense was at fault. Offense and special teams played a part, too. Two weeks ago, an interception and a 19-yard kick return from 9 yards deep in the end zone helped set up the tying and winning scores in a 13-10 loss to the Cardinals. The Bucs have lost three games by a total of six points. In each case, an extended offensive series or a defensive stand could have allowed for a different outcome.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly vs. Bucs coach Greg Schiano
Kelly has finally brought his high-powered, up-tempo, spread offense to the NFL — and it's making an impact many thought unlikely, if not impossible. Varied and versatile, Kelly's attack can best be described as fast-break football and his game plan consists of many plays some long-serving NFL types have never seen before. You can bet Schiano has seen them, though. Schiano is only a year removed from the college ranks, so he is not unaccustomed to devising defensive strategies to stop spread schemes. The key to stopping Kelly's attack, Schiano said, is to play disciplined, assignment-oriented football, but there's more to it than that. The Eagles play at a pace designed to make defensive personnel changes difficult, so the key to success for the Bucs is to slow the Eagles down.
The Bucs were just starting to regain a semblance of normalcy when another fire storm broke out at One Buc Place on Thursday. This time, it was news that LG Carl Nicks had a re-occurence of a MRSA infection, followed on Friday by the acknowledgement that a third player had been diagnosed, joining Nicks and K Lawrence Tynes. It has been one off-field issue after another for the Bucs this season, which appears to be the new normal for these guys. Even those on the inside are wondering what could happen next. That environment is not conducive to winning, but the Bucs have been forced to live and work in it. The trick is to put all the distractions behind them and find a way to play a winning brand of football. Given all the Bucs are dealing with, that figures to be a difficult task.
5 Questions with ... RB Jeff Demps
Q: Who's faster, you or Eagles WR DeSean Jackson?
A: Me. Period.
Q: Your track career has taken you to some exotic places. What's your favorite European city?
A: Monaco. It's gorgeous. Yachts, cars ... everything you can imagine.
Q: Were you always the fastest kid in the neighborhood?
A: Yes. I was always fast, even when I was growing up. As far back as I can remember, I was always the fastest in my age group.
Q: Favorite movie or TV show?
A: My favorite TV show is probably George Lopez. For movies, I'll go with the Transformers series and the Fast and the Furious series.
Q: What was it like growing up in Groveland?
A: It's different. It's country, man. Nothing but land and trees. I went back there last week and it's exactly the same. You can't get into any trouble in Groveland.
Amid all the distractions, the Bucs nail down their first victory of the season.
Tampa Bay's season of torment continues before a rare sellout crowd at RayJay.