Some cracks started to show in the foundation this week. Though there seems to be plenty of respect among Tampa Bay Buccaneers players for their coaches, some players do not appear to be big fans of their coaches’ schemes, particularly on defense. The Bucs have frequently used stunts with their defensive linemen, and DT Gerald McCoy has never been a big fan of taking the indirect route to the quarterback.
His claim this week that he can only run the plays he’s told to run is a sign the players might be questioning the systems they’re working. It also might be the reason coach Greg Schiano has suddenly started talking about playing more to his players’ strengths. The last thing the Bucs need now is players questioning their coach’s methods, but at 0-7, it might have already started.
3 Keys to victory
TURN UP THE HEAT
If the Seahawks have a weakness, it’s the offensive line. Injuries have forced Seattle to start backups at both tackle spots, and the results have not been good. The Seahawks have allowed 27 sacks, fourth-most in the league, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. According to ProFootballFocus, QB Russell Wilson has been pressured on 47 percent of his drop-backs, the highest percentage in the league. That has forced Wilson to extend or create plays on 25 percent of the snaps he’s taken. The Bucs pass rush has run hot and cold, but it can keep Wilson in check by taking advantage of the Seahawks’ protection issues.
LOAD UP THE BOX
It might not seem like it, but the Seahawks are a lot like the Bucs in one key aspect: They want to run the ball. Their offense is designed to take advantage of the running skills of RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Russell Wilson. As Bucs fans know all too well, the best way to stop such an attack is to load up the box. By putting eight and sometimes nine players near the line of scrimmage and wisely disguising their intentions, the Bucs could keep Lynch and Wilson from gaining big yards on early downs. That could make the Seahawks more predictable on third downs, especially third-and-long situations.
HELP GLENNON SUCCEED
A Seahawks pass rush that includes 2012 Buccaneers sack leader Michael Bennett ranks third in the league with 26 sacks. That will make it hard for Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon to make plays in the passing game, so Tampa Bay needs to give him some help. Keeping a tight end and a back in as pass protectors is one way, but good play design will do even more for Glennon. Glennon has proved to be an accurate passer, and the Bucs need to take advantage of that. By incorporating more quick slants, hitches and quick outs and making more use of three- and five-step drops, the Bucs could neutralize the Seahawks’ rush and keep the chains moving.
Bucs RG Davin Joseph vs. Seahawks DL Red Bryant
The Bucs have become a very unbalanced offense in recent weeks. They have thrown the ball almost twice as often as they’ve run it their past four games, but they hope to have a more balanced approach today. That’s why this matchup is so critical. Bryant, among the league top run stoppers, will spend a lot of early downs lined up across from Joseph. Joseph is still trying to regain his two-time Pro Bowl form after missing all of last season with a knee injury, and he’ll need to be at that level to keep Bryant from blowing up the Bucs’ running plans. With rookie RB Mike James slated to get most of the work, the Bucs will need a good push up front to maintain a balanced and successful attack. Any hope of doing that starts with the Bucs’ best lineman, and that is Joseph.
5 Questions with DE Steven Means
Q: What kind of student were you in high school?
A: I was a real good student, good grades. Math was a little tough. I’d say my favorite subject was gym.
Q: Who is your roommate on the road, and how do you two get along?
A: I room with (DE) Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and he’s a character. Funny dude, cool guy. We talk a lot about TV shows that are coming on. A majority of the time, he’s on his laptop.
Q: Talk about the difference in climate, going from Buffalo to Tampa.
A: Actually, it was a good transition for me as far as being on the field. I still haven’t gotten used to it off the field. That’s where I’m trying to figure things out, because I’m still hot off the field.
Q: I’m giving you one last meal. What’ll it be?
A: Shrimp Alfredo. If I can’t have that, I’m going for some cereal.
Q: What will you do after you’re retired from football?
A: I want to be a firefighter, following in my dad’s footsteps. He had 26 years in the fire department. It’s a dangerous job, but I like that about it. You’re running into something everyone else is running away from.
Seahawks just too good at home for beat-up, struggling Bucs.
Bucs keep it close in one of the NFL’s most challenging venues.