Tonight’s game is a fairly even match up. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Indianapolis Colts at a sold out Raymond James Stadium. Both teams have struggled to get things going this season and have similar rankings and statistics in ever category. Another thing these teams share in common is the importance of getting a win in tonight’s game. The Bucs haven’t had a primetime game in quite some time, and need to prove to the nation that it’s worthy of some attention. The Colts find themselves playing multiple primetime games a season, but without Payton Manning have suffered a 0-3 start to the season. To make matters worse, their back up QB, Kerry Collins suffered a concussion late in their last game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although the Colts are winless, they appear to be getting closer to a win each game and could make things difficult for the Buccaneers.
The last time the Buccaneers hosted the Colts was in Oct. 6, 2003. The Bucs had a 21 point lead in the 4th quarter and were stunned by a miraculous comeback in the final3:37 minutes of the game. The Colts tied the game and forced it into overtime. A field goal secured a win for the Colts and left the Buccaneers embarrassed and disappointed.
The Colts still have many of their well known weapons on offense. They are known to have superb route running and burn defenses with deep passes. This, however, has been voided in the absence of Payton Manning. Yes, all the weapons are still there and are still running routes flawlessly. However, without Manning’s accurate and strong arm, connecting with the receivers has been an issue. If the play calling is friendly and forgiving to Curtis Painter, short passes and screens could give the Colts a greater chance in leaving with a victory. The weapons are still there. They just aren’t getting the ball.
As much as I’d like to point out that they have a rookie at left tackle in Anthony Castonzo, I feel he won’t that great of a weakness considering he will match up against another rookie, Adrian Clayborn. However, Castonzo was at fault for failing to protect Kerry Collins in the play that sidelined Collins. Of course this was against Steeler’s LB James Harrison, but the Bucs could find similar success in attacking his side of the line. .
One of the things the Colts are notorious for is the loud audibles called at the line. Manning was great at confusing defenses by blabbing random phrases that changed nothing with their offensive play calling, yet confused the defense enough to make incorrect adjustments. Manning also was excellent at making the proper adjustments at the line and taking advantage of defensive mistakes. Without Manning, the Colts are without one of the greatest quarterbacks, an offensive coordinator, and a leader. Curtis Painter did terrible in the preseason, which is why the Colts signed Kerry Collins. Collins wasn’t much of an upgrade in terms of skill, but his knowledge and experience gave him the edge. With Painter getting his first start of his career, the Buccaneers can take advantage of QB pressure and force the young signal calling to make mistakes.
I’m sure you’ve all heard what a monster Dwight Freeney is. Then you have Robert Mathis on the other side of the defensive line. The two defensive ends combined are a threat that should never be overlooked. Freeney already has 3 sacks this season, and has a total 34 yards loss on sacks. Mathis has 2 sacks with a total of 6 yards loss on sacks. I hope Freeman knows that this defense has a two-headed monster that is not easy to get by, and if he is going to scramble, make sure you are moving forward!
With Gary Brackett out for the season due to a shoulder injury, 24 year old Pat Angerer has taken over the leadership role for the defense. Traditionally, I would pick on the rookie that just took over for the proven veteran, but this guy is a freak of nature. He currently leads the entire NFL in tackles! He is like the Ndamukong Suh of middle linebackers. If you see number 51 anywhere near the ball, just count on it to be a sure tackle. The good news for the Buccaneers is that Blount is notorious for breaking tackles. This will be an exciting match up to watch!
Even though Pat Angerer has 42 tackles and Mathis and Freeney threaten any movement coming in their direction, the Colts still have managed to give up an average of 113 yards rushing per game, and have given up 4 TD’s on the ground. Those aren’t the worst statistics, but they could be a sign of hope for the Buccaneers, who have a bruising and powerful running back. Expect the Buccaneers to give Blount tons of carries to control the clock and take advantage of a poor rushing defense.
I swear I won’t mention Angerer’s name again after this, but he could be a weakness just as much a strength in this game. Gary Brackett has been the leader of the defense for the last several seasons and now he is out for the season. That’s like loosing Manning on two sides of the ball. Defensive audibles will play a huge part in this game and could go either way for the Colts. Mason Foster had a good game last week against the Falcons in his first defensive calling game. Angerer could see similar success, but it is a 50/50 chance.
- Run, run, and run! Run it until they can’t take it anymore. Once you see them show any signs of fatigue, bring in the play action and burn them deep.
- Take advantage of a rookie at left tackle. Clayborn may not be able to do it alone, but a linebacker blitz could generate some sacks or good pressure. Geno Hayes is good at that, so mix him in a couple of blitz packages.
- Get Preston Parker on the field more. Mike Williams has been often double teamed and rightly so. That has opened up some huge opportunities for the speedster out of FSU.
- Shut Joseph Addai down and force the offense to be one-sided. Addai was never amazing in my opinion, and is far removed from his better days. This doesn’t mean he’s worthless! Addai had a pretty good game against a tough Steelers defense, and is looking to follow up with another good game. However, the Bucs were able to shut down Michael Turner, and should not be as challenged to stop Addai.
- If the running game is unsuccessful, it will force Painter to have to throw more and therefore create more opportunities for mistakes and 3-outs.
- Get points on the board early. The Colts were built around Manning’s ability to generate a bunch of points and this defense is not used to playing from behind.