Most of the focus around Bucs Nation will most likely be on the long term suspension of safety Tanard Jackson. This is a major blow to the secondary, which was a major problem in 2009. Although the team has gotten off to a good start, there are still signs that the secondary will sorely miss T-Jack. They have given up a big play in each contest so far (touchdowns to Mohammed Massaquoi and Steve Smith), something that has to be alarming considering the schedule is about to get much more difficult. That said, Bucs have "got what they got" so to speak, and must find a way to come together as a team. The most important thing going forward is Sunday afternoon at 1 PM. This week our Bucs take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are also 2-0. The similarities of course do not end here. Both squads have used dominating defensive schemes that propelled them to a championship (two in the case of
Perhaps the biggest mismatch heading into this game is the Buccaneers offensive line taking on the Steelers front 7. They do a tremendous job of swarming to the football, while eliminating any cutback lanes. A week ago,
Titans Ball 7:03 left in the first quarter 2nd and 2 from the
After an 8 yard gain on first down (in which Johnson broke about 5 tackles), the Titans attempt to pound the ball to move the chains. They line up in a bunch formation with two wideouts, a tight end on the right side, and a fullback to the left. At the snap, the fullback moves over to the right. By the time Johnson gets the ball in his hands, there are 9 Steelers in the box. Instead of following the formation, Johnson cuts back in an attempt to get the two yards. They show tremendous gap discipline on this play, and Lawrence Timmons drills CJ for no gain.
Titans ball, 14:02 left in the second quarter 1st and 10 from the
The Titans line up in a full house backfield on this play, with a receiver to each side. The Steelers show blitz with their two outside linebackers at the line of scrimmage. The play is a designed run to the left, with both fullbacks pulling to that side. However Johnson is met at the line by Troy Polamalu and is unable to cut back. Another gain of 0 on the play.
Titans ball 10:47 left in 4th quarter 1st and 10 from the
The Titans line up in a single-back formation with one wideout split left. On this play, the Titans run a stretch play to the right side this play is a complete mess from
The other aspect of the Steelers defense is their vaunted blitzing schemes in passing situations. Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau has an uncanny ability to disguise coverages, causing opposing offenses to make mistakes. Against the Titans, Vince Young and Kerry Collins struggled mightily to sustain drives, and whenever they did they often made mistakes that undermined them. Here are a few passing plays from this game that show what challenges the Bucs will face from
Titans ball 5:54 left in 1st quarter 1st and 10 from the
Titans ball 8:28 left in 2nd quarter 3rd and 6 from the
Another simple mistake from Young that could have been avoided. The Titans line up in a simple shotgun formation, with Chris Johnson to Young’s left. The Steelers only have one down lineman (which happens to be LaMarr Woodley), with about 4 or 5 other defenders showing blitz from a standing position. When the ball is snapped, Woodley drops into coverage while the Steelers send the 4 standing defenders. Young is looking to hit Justin Gage on the slant pattern because of the blitz, but fails to see Woodley dropping back and he is able to make the simple interception. Young didn’t have anyone to have anyone open on this play, but his ability to scramble could have led him to at least threaten to get a first down. Instead, field position is flipped and the Titans are on the back foot once again.
Kerry Collins is now in the game for the Titans.
As for a game plan? I feel running the ball is a lost cause, as BucWild has pointed out we rank dead last in rushing DVOA on the season. The debate on this website at the moment is about running game and to what degree should the Bucs abandon it if it is ineffective. Of course Freeman can’t win the game by himself, and making him throw the ball 40 times would probably backfire as well. The only chance