TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) vs. New England Patriots (1-1)
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Nat’l TV: N/A
Local TV: BLACKOUT
Away TV: WBZ 4 (CBS)
Live Stream: NFL.com Preseason Live
Radio: WDAE 620AM (Tampa), 98.5FM (New England/Boston)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 128 (Bucs Feed), Sirius 85 (Patriots Feed)
Weather: 90°F, Sunny
Line: Patriots by 7
Key Matchup: Jeremy Trueblood vs. Demar Dotson
This is a battle that has arisen in the last week and it’s one that could shape the offensive line. Trueblood was the guy Davin Joseph wouldn’t re-sign without, but Schiano’s regime isn’t going to take the word of their star offensive lineman over actual production. Trueblood’s not horrible, but now that he’s not going to be simply handed the job, we may see a spike in his motivation. If not, we will see what Dotson has and either way it seems the right side of the line will be even more solid after this battle sees a victor.
Last Game: Buccaneers lost to Titans 30-7, Patriots lost to Eagles 27-17
Last Meeting: October 25, 2009 — Buccaneers 7, Patriots 35
Series History (Since 2001): Patriots lead series 2-0
Key Bucs Storyline: Can Doug Martin capitalize on Blount’s injury; Jordan Shipley makes his Bucs debut.
Opposing View: Can Jeff Demps make the team; Patriots wide receiver mess
Last Minute Preview: Well we’ve seen one good, solid game from this Bucs team and one nasty, awful game from this Bucs team that harkened back memories of the 2011 season.
Bill Belichick has already raved about Greg Schiano, which is all fine and dandy, but hearing good things from another coach and seeing actual results are two drastically different things. The Buccaneers may have a head coach that a legend loves, but they have issues they still need to attend to.
Namely, what’s going to happen on defense. After a solid first game, the Bucs defense was shredded by Tennessee — something that the 2011 team had done to them. That little flashback was unpleasant to say the least but things need to be fixed if this team doesn’t want to be embarrassed in the regular season.
There are some bright spots that can ease the pain if they continue to make improvements. Lavonte David at linebacker has been a nice surprise the way he’s been so impressive so fast. But David could get burned as he may be tasked with covering Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez. With the Patriots love of their tight ends, David is either going to get a slap of reality or he’ll shine even more so than he has already.
This could also be a great test for Gerald McCoy who is in a position where he needs to succeed this year. The Patriots are likely to run their up-tempo offense tonight and that means coming right at the former third overall pick. McCoy has been so-so thus far as a run stopping defensive tackle and seeing as taht’s what he’s supposed to do, that needs to improve.
As for the offense, they only mustered up six first downs in all last Friday, something that would put the Rah-Rah Raheem offense of 2011 to shame. Josh Freeman and the starters might play further into the second quarter tonight, and we will definitely see more of Doug Martin with LeGarrette Blount still hobbled by his groin. Blount is cleared to play, but the Bucs would be foolish to play him given the rash of meaningful injuries in meaningless preseason games as of late.
The Bucs can also generally and overall learn from the Patriots tonight. They’re not a team of individual stars, but rather a team. Just look at their running back. Not only do not a lot of people know who exactly New England’s running back is from week-to-week, they don’t even know who’s in the running. New England functions as a unit and that’s what the Bucs need to do to succeed. They already have the individual talent, but the key is to getting it to all gel.
Tonight is the first step towards achieving that — hopefully anyways.