Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris insisted that his teams poor performance against the New England Patriots last week was due to his decision to not gameplan for Tom Brady and the Pats, but rather play vanilla base packages and let his young team show what they are capable of. What they got was an embarassing blowout, as Brady and the Patriots offense blasted the first team defense for four touchdowns in the first half while holding Josh Freeman off the scoreboard and on the turf.
There will be no excuses this week if the Bucs can not show something more as the Miami Dolphins will visit Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night for the pre-seasons third exhibition matchup. Morris has installed a basic gameplan for the Dolphins, waiting until the teams third matchup to do so, a routine that he says is typical for the pre-season under his regime.
Josh Freeman and the rest of the starters are also expected to play deep into the game, at least the entire first half and maybe some of the third quarter depending on the flow of the game.
However, the Bucs will need to improve in many areas, not just the classroom. Gameplans aside, New England just out-physicaled Tampa Bay for 60 minutes. Individual battles were consistently lost on both sides of the ball and the Buccaneers must improve their play if they are going to re-energize the fan base that has begun to question their young teams ability.
Some things too watch for, Saturday night:
- Can Freeman remain upright? Last week, the face of the franchise was battered and bruised by the Patriots pass-rush leading Freeman to a paltry 33-yards passing on 5 of 10 passing.
- LeGarrette Blount was held to 1 measly yard on 4 rushing attempts against New England. Blount will need to prove that he is the capable back everyone hopes he is and that he can avoid a sophomore slump in '11.
- Can the Buccaneers stop the run? The defensive line is talented, but very inexperienced, and stopping the run has been a challenge for Tampa Bay for the better part of a decade. Rookie DE Adrian Clayborn and DT Gerald McCoy will have their work cut out for them, facing the elusive Reggie Bush.
- Is there anyone healthy in the secondary? Elbert Mack and Aqib Talib have both been dealing with hamstring issues and then theres that whole suspension thing for Talib. The secondary has been a bright spot so far in the preseason despite the struggles but they will need to continue their strong play going forward.
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