The Bucs face the 49ers this week and quite a bit has been made about Frank Gore’s rushing ability and the Bucs inability to stop the run. Although they have actually started to look better in this department, the harsh truth is that they are going to stuggle with this part of the game. What the Bucs can do, is control some of the other aspects which will help them win the game.
First, the Bucs need to maintain the balance of running and passing plays this week. Last week, they had a great offensive output (granted it was against the Panthers), and this can be attributed to offensive balance. By keeping the opposing defense honest and unable to focus on just defending just the pass or the run, big plays become possible. Establishing a balance also allows for sustained drives and if the Bucs can get ahead, the 49ers will be forced to pass.
Second, limit the penalties. It was painful to endure all of the unforced errors of the past few weeks. I realize that anytime you play numerous rookies on offense you are bound to have proceedural penalties. The Bucs are just having too many of these. Some officiating crews are more strict than others on this, but the players are in the NFL, and they need to understand the rules and how to prevent the flags.
Third, find the special teams magic again. The Bucs special teams was of the ten best in the leause in most categories going into the Panthers game, but then looked horrible. Establishing field position with making good decisions on returns, no turnovers on special teams, and creating big plays will go a long way to ensure a victory. Rich Bisaccia is an excellent special teams coach, and I expect him to have the unit back up to speed this week.