Nov 11, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Donald Penn (70) is congratulated by teammates after he caught the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally won their first game of the season, the question needs to be asked: Can the Bucs continue winning? Tampa Bay has been in close games for seven out of nine contests this season. And some of those seven came against some pretty stiff competition. They’ve lost by a combined nine points to the Jets, Saints, Cardinals, and Seahawks, four teams that could make a push for the playoffs. With games at Detriot, Carolina, and New Orleans and hosting the San Francisco 49ers, the road ahead is very tough. Here are some ways for the Bucs to continue to be competitive and win.
The offense is going to have to do exactly what it did Monday night against the Miami Dolphins. Tampa Bay got back to it’s roots and ran the ball with authority, even with their third and fourth string running backs. The Bucs rushed for 140 yards on a pretty good front seven for the Dolphins. With RB Mike James and fellow RB Doug Martin both gone for the season, Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey will split carries for the Tampa Bay from here on out. They produced last night as Leonard finished with a team-high 20 carries and 57 yards and Rainey rushing eight times for 45 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully they can handle the load, otherwise the Bucs may have to look at a Beanie Wells or Cedric Benson.
As for the the passing offense, QB Mike Glennon needs to do exactly what he did against the Dolphins. After the end of the season it might still be in question whether he can lead the Bucs in the future, but winning more games and not making critical rookie mistakes will help him. Glennon finished with 139 yards, a TD, and a pick. With WR Mike Williams out for the year and teams keying in on WR Vincent Jackson, look for Glennon’s nights to continue to look like this.
It should be noted that even without G Carl Nicks, the Tampa Bay offensive line looked really good against some really good defensive lineman and linebackers. They dominated the line of scrimmage, kept Glennon’s jersey clean for the most part, and Donald Penn even caught a touchdown. Pretty impressive for a group that had been maligned earlier in the season.
The Buccaneer defense has been strong all year, with mental lapses from time to time. DT Gerald McCoy gets off the ball faster than any interior lineman in football, LB Lavonte David keeps making plays all over the fields, and the secondary lead by CB Darrelle Revis, S Dashon Goldson, and S Mark Barron continues to hit hard. The weakness in the secondary is depth. The Bucs options in the secondary with S Keith Tandy, CB Michael Adams, and CB Leonard Johnson have been less than stellar when their time has come in Nickel and Dime situations. The Dolphins picked on Adams and Johnson on Monday, and as a result, QB Ryan Tannehill threw 12 straight completions and WR Rishard Matthews had a career day with 11 receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Besides that, however, the Buccaneers defense held the Dolphins to two yards rushing, sacked the Tannehill twice and had nine tackles for loss. The TB D-line dominated a beleaguered Miami offensive line and in turn, played one of their best games of the season.
Overall, these Buccaneers haven’t played that poorly over the entire season. They’ve kept good teams close and have really been blown out only twice. If Tampa Bay can continue hot starts in their games and the defense continues to play well, they could string together a couple more W’s. They just need to build leads and keep leads. No letting teams back into games like they have against the Dolphins and Seahawks. The real question is, do you want to see the Bucs do well and win more games? Or would you rather say this is a lost season and hold out for the number one overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft?