By Tom Krasniqi
The Bucs offense is really struggling. They are last in the league in total offense and last in passing offense. Not the way you want to be playing when you have to visit a loud environment on Sunday against a fierce pass rush.
The Bucs are in St. Louis on Sunday. The Rams have 42 sacks on the season. If the Bucs want to move the ball, they had better find a way to block defensive end Robert Quinn, who has 15 sacks and 7 forced fumbles.
“I think, from watching him, it seems like he’s just not satisfied with getting the sack, he wants to get the sack fumble. Half of his sacks he’s done that, so whatever he’s doing, he’s doing it really well,” Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon said of Quinn.
On the other side, defensive end Chris Long has 6.5 sacks. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers has 5.5 sacks and reserve defensive end William Hayes has 5.
Tampa Bay’s problems on third down are well documented. They are 6 for their last 35 on third down conversions. Needless to say, if you get into 3rd and long against these Rams, it will be a very long Sunday afternoon at the Edward Jones Dome. Head coach Greg Schiano knows his offense has to be productive on early downs.
“It’s critical. It’s really important,” Schiano said after Thursday’s practice. “We’ve got to keep ourselves in manageable third downs so we don’t have to stand back there too long. The longer the yardage you have to get, the longer you have to stand in the pocket or roll out or whatever your plans are.”
Those plans could go bad in a hurry if the Bucs don’t find a way to get production on early downs. The Rams are 12th in rush defense but just 27th in pass defense. Throwing the ball on first or second down might not be such a bad idea. The Bucs have worked extensively this week in practice not just on 3rd down situations, but on early downs scenarios as well.
“We went ahead and we always get a head start as far as in our weekly schedule to try and get it to the quarterback a little bit sooner,” Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “We just spent a, took a few more clips, if you will, looked at a few more things that they had done and put a little bit of extra, nothing out of the ordinary, but really spent a longer time I guess is probably a better way of phrasing it, normally you’d say allocate whatever ‘x’ amount of hours that you as a staff want to go through and talk protections and scheme.”
With so many injuries and inexperience on offense, can the Bucs score, say 17 points, against the Rams? That might get the job done. The Rams offense isn’t explosive by any means, but they do have a grinder at running back in rookie Zac Stacy and speed at receiver. The Bucs defense has been playing well of late-- 13th in total defense and tied for 3rd in turnover margin at +11. All they need is some help from the offense to get a road win on Sunday.
As far as the Thursday injury report, Schiano said on Thursday that DE Da’Quan Bowers (knee) did not practice. Schiano says the knee is bothering him a bit. Meanwhile, safety Mark Barron (hamstring) was limited on Thursday. Schiano says Barron is “improving and is day-to-day.” Aren’t we all.
News & Notes:
- Bucs CB Darrelle Revis admits his surgically repaired knee still isn’t 100%: “It still bothers me here and there.” It’s scary to think what Revis will be like once he’s 100%. He’ll probably look more like the Revis that dominated back in 2009 when he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year.
- Revis knows Rams QB Kellen Clemens all too well. They were teammates with the Jets from 2007-2010: “Saw him in practice every day when we were teammates so I’m very familiar with his game. I’m sure he’s very familiar with my game as well.”
- Schiano on his defense: “We’re a couple pieces away, I think, from being a dominant defense.”
- Bucs TE Tim Wright is in the record books—He has 45 receptions for 486 yards and 4 touchdowns. All are records for Bucs rookie tight ends. His 45 catches are tied with Washington’s Jordan Reed for the most among NFL rookie tight ends.
- Sunday will be a homecoming for Bucs DE Adrian Clayborn. He’s originally from St. Louis and he’ll have a large group of family and friends at the game.
- According to reports, Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan will interview for the Army head coaching position on Friday.
- In their last meeting, the Rams beat the Bucs 28-13 in the 2012 regular season finale.
- No matter how you feel about the head coach, this is a very cool thing—On Friday, Schiano is visiting Metropolitan Ministries to bring holiday cheer to underprivileged families and children.
- Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is 5-1 lifetime against the Bucs.
- This Sunday, the 4-10 Bucs visit the 6-8 St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. You can catch the game on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM with our coverage beginning at 9am with Countdown to Kickoff.
- For the latest Bucs news, keep it locked all day long on 620 WDAE and 95.3FM, your home of the Bucs and the best Bucs coverage. Don’t forget to check out the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the latest news and audio clips.