TAMPA FL - DECEMBER 19: Running back Earnest Graham #34 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs through the tackle of linebacker Bobby Carpenter #59 of the Detroit Lions during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 19 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
When a team is on offense, the best way to attack a defense is to find its weakest point and overload it. For the Lions defense, that's easier said than done. Not because it's a great defense, but because there are two weak spots: run defense and secondary depth. Which weakness should the Bucs attack?
Running the ball is easier than passing the ball, which would argue for a run-based offense. But there are some reasons to re-think that strategy: the Lions improved their run defense this offseason by adding linebackers Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant. Couple that with a dominant defensive line and the Lions' run defense should be much improved. But the same can't be said of the pass defense.
The Lions starting corners aren't worth writing home about, but once they get to their third and fourth cornerbacks they really lack some quality. Brandon McDonald and Aaron Berry are the only other cornerbacks on their roster, and neither of them is going to stop anyone.
Which is why another viable option is forcing them to get their third and fourth cornerbacks out on the field and then going after them. With Dezmon Briscoe and Sammie Stroughter the Buccaneers have the depth to exploit poor cornerback play. With Kellen Winslow on the field as well, they can put that defense in a real bind.
The problem with running a pass-first offense is stopping the Lions pass-rush, however. There are ways to slow down a pass-rush, though: draw plays and screen passes, both surprisingly absent from last year's offense. Besides that, the Bucs should go with an offense based on quick passes if they take this approach.
The Bucs can take two completely opposite approaches to this game. They can try to pound the ball and run a play-action based, deep passing game. Or, they can try to force the Lions defense to put its weakest players on the field and go after them in the passing game. It will be interesting to see which approach the Bucs take tomorrow.