The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have yet to win a game in 2013, and Monday Night’s game against the Miami Dolphins represents one of their best chances to snag a victory from their remaining contests. But how do they earn that victory?
Lots of media members are quick to bring up the distractions in Miami with the bullying situation and the lack of depth on the offensive line caused by the suspension and departure of two players from that unit. But Miami is still a formidable opponent who will want to set aside their frustrations with a victory against Tampa Bay.
Here are the four things the Buccaneers must do to overcome their in-state rivals.
Run the Ball Early and Often
Mike James should be given every opportunity he can get early in the game to set the tone against a defense that is weaker against the run than it is against the pass. According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA statistics, the Dolphins are a top-12 defense in the NFL overall, but are weighed down by a 30th ranked rushing defense. The Chargers and Jaguars are the only teams with less effective run stopping efforts.
If the Buccaneers can run as well as they did against the Seattle Seahawks, and continue to run into the second half and not let off the gas, they’ll secure a victory. So that means Mike James and Brian Leonard should carry the ball as often as possible and the Bucs must force Miami to stop the run before considering going pass-heavy against a decent pass defense.
Connect on Big Plays
Mike Glennon has been weak on deep throws all season, but Monday night presents an opportunity to redeem himself against a banged up Miami secondary. Brent Grimes will likely be one side of the field, but the other side will be manned by Will Davis or Nolan Carroll at cornerback. The Dolphins also allowed some impressive performances to tight ends earlier this season, meaning Tim Wright may be able to break loose for a deeper completion as well.
Vincent Jackson will have a huge height advantage on Grimes, and even Tiquan Underwood will be able to win some matchups against the backup corners for Miami who will be pressed into action in place of the injured Dmitri Patterson. But Glennon has to connect on some of these passes for the offense to do what it needs to do to win. Dropping the ball off to running backs and tight ends on short routes works for a while, but once it becomes clear that there’s no threat down the field, teams will creep up and take away the short gains and taunt Glennon to throw it deep.
Stop Charles Clay
The Buccaneers have Darrelle Revis at corner, and he’s commanded respect from every quarterback he’s played this season. That means Mike Wallace will likely find himself “out” of the game while he spends his time on Revis Island.
That means Charles Clay emerges as one of the primary options in the passing game for Ryan Tannehill. Clay is a versatile tight end who will get open and make catches if the Buccaneers don’t properly account for him. Lavonte David and Mark Barron should both be capable of manning up against Clay, so he should never be left alone. Too often in recent weeks have the Buccaneers allowed tons of yardage on short throws and screen passes that are poorly defended, and Clay could victimize the Buccaneers in that way.
Pressure and Contain Ryan Tannehill
Russell Wilson was under fire from the Buccaneers in Week 9, but that didn’t translate into any sacks or truly negative plays. Instead, Wilson usually broke contain and found open receivers while on the run, or he simply took off to run himself. Ryan Tannehill is capable of doing the same thing if the Buccaneers don’t respect his athleticism.
The former wide receiver will be a threat with his arm and legs on Monday night, so even if Gerald McCoy or Adrian Clayborn make their way into the backfield, the other members of the front seven must remain disciplined and keep Tannehill contained, otherwise he’ll take off and run and negate the benefits of a good pass rush.
And according to Pro Football Focus, Tannehill is not fazed by the blitz, but he does struggle when facing pressure. That means it’s not enough to just send guys after the Miami QB, they have to get in his face and force him to make a bad throw. His passer rating is actually better when being blitzed, and the Buccaneers blitz a lot. So the Bucs need to get their hands on Tannehill or he’ll tear them apart for a big day through the air and on the ground.
Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers