If you’ve been reading the Pewter Plank for any period of time, you’ve surely seen my regular articles which use “The Good, the Bad, and the Likely” format to show all possible outcomes for the Buccaneers in a game or a season. For the regular season, I will have a Good, Bad, and Likely list for every game, which breaks down the offense and defense’s likely outcomes for the game ahead.
The first team on the schedule is the New York Jets, who present a unique set of challenges. Let’s take a look at how the Buccaneers might do against the team from New York.
The Good: The good scenario for the Buccaneers’ offense begins and ends with great offensive line play. The Jets don’t have a fantastic pass rush, so if the line can create time for Josh Freeman, he’ll have a much better chance for a great game.
The offensive line will also need to give Doug Martin room to work. We all saw what happened when Doug got into the second and third levels of the defense last season. That will happen again if the men in the trenches can give him room to work.
So with a good performance from the line, you could see a 300-yard passing game from Josh Freeman, combined with a 150-yard rushing game from Doug Martin. Vincent Jackson will be moved around into the slot and all over the formations to keep Antonio Cromartie on his toes, and Mike Williams will have what should be a favorable matchup against rookie Dee Milliner.
The Bad: Just like the good, this begins up front. If the Buccaneers can’t protect the quarterback, Josh Freeman could resort to his error-making ways while under pressure from the pass rush. There are playmakers at cornerback for the Jets, so Josh can’t afford to make rash decisions.
And if Doug Martin can’t get going with good blocking, the Buccaneers will have a tough time succeeding on offense. The running game will help set up opportunities to pass, so if there’s no run game, the Bucs become more predictable.
The worst case scenario for the receiving corps is Dee Milliner being NFL ready from game one. Mike Williams hasn’t had a terrific offseason, and it won’t be great for his confidence to be dominated by a rookie in Week 1.
The Likely: I have a feeling that the offensive line is going to be inconsistent, but we’re going to see enough moments of brilliance to set up the offense for the points it needs. Josh Freeman will likely take a few sacks from holding onto the ball against pressure, and against the Jets that’s probably going to be alright.
Doug Martin will need to get 22 or more carries, no matter what the run blocking situation looks like from the offensive line. The Bucs can’t afford to keep him bottled up, he has to be the featured player in this offense.
And I believe that Vincent Jackson’s ability to move around the formation on offense will cause trouble for New York, and he’ll get open for some key plays.
The Good: If the Buccaneers can keep Geno Smith on his toes with decent pressure and solid pass coverage, this game could get ugly quick. Geno isn’t ready to start in the NFL, and while he has the skill to burn the Bucs’ defense, he has to be in the right situation for that to happen.
The front seven will need to get in his face early, and force him to make quick decisions. Because if he makes quick decisions, he could revert to this thought that entered his head and exited his mouth this week:
— The Pewter Plank (@ThePewterPlank) September 4, 2013
If Geno Smith tries to evaluate whether someone is open against Darrelle Revis while under pressure from Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn, or Da’Quan Bowers, he’s probably not going to make the right decision.
The linebackers will be fine, even in the worst case scenario. But to make sure they’re as good as can be, Mason Foster is going to need to be strong in pass coverage in the short middle of the field. The Jets have a decent tight end and slot receiver, and so Mason will be tested. If he can get in the way of a couple of passes, it will further shake Geno’s confidence.
The Bad: If Geno Smith has all day to throw, he has enough weapons in New York to move the football. Jeremy Kerley isn’t a bad receiver, and Stephen Hill is an athlete and a half. Giving Geno time is truly the worst case scenario.
And if the Jets can find a way to open up the running game against the Buccaneers, this game gets a lot tougher than it should be. Chris Ivory won’t be as tough of a matchup without Drew Brees at QB, but he’s proven he can run against the Buccaneers in the past, and his partner in crime Bilal Powell is a very efficient runner.
Plus, if the Buccaneers can’t get a good enough performance from the “Non-Revis” corner, they could have some problems. If Geno is smart enough to not test Darrelle, that means Johnthan Banks and Leonard Johnson have to be on top of things to keep the Buccaneers defense on track.
The Likely: See, “The Good.” Geno isn’t ready for the NFL, and the Buccaneers aren’t the ideal first encounter for the Jets’ new signal caller. If the Buccaneers’ offense puts the defense in a bad spot, they might give up a few points. But this New York offensive unit isn’t good enough to take apart the Bucs’ D.