Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
It's incredibly upsetting for Tampa to have lost two very winnable games consecutively while having erratic differences in both offensive and defensive performance, but there are a whole slew of games left. The offense deserves most of the blame, while the rest can be pointed to the inexperienced coaching staff. For the Bucs, Washington is a beatable team. The Redskin defense has not played to its potential, and that could be just what this team needs come Sunday.
Starting with what surprises me the most, the Buccaneer defensive unit has outshined the offense this season. Although the Giants scored 41 points, the Tampa D was able to pick off Eli Manning three times in the first half and one went for a pick six. The insipid offense forced McCoy and the boys to play sixty some odd snaps against one of the Manning brothers, and things fell apart rather quickly. Coach Schiano pounded his team over the summer with gassers, however there is no conditioning routine that can prepare a defense for that.
Gerald McCoy and Michael Bennett have been playing like madmen thus far. Incessant pressure up the middle has had opponents forcing passes- allowing the defense to average two picks per game while they are finally getting to the quarterback. Apart from Quincy Black, the young linebackers are consistently making plays behind or at the line of scrimmage, and Foster is providing that thump in the middle. Losing Adrian Clayborn will take away from the rush defense, though Da'Quan Bowers may be back in the lineup come early November (no idea if he'll be effective as an RE but staying positive).
Washington is not a balanced team. The offense is their obvious strength, keeping them close as they average 33 points per contest. Two aspects of that bode well for the Bucs.
First comes the quality of defenses the Redskins have faced over the course of these last three weeks- poor at best. Between the St. Louis, Cincinnati, and New Orleans defense, collectively they have allowed over 31 points per game. Tampa holds teams to 22 points per game on average, yet that number is inflated (as are opponents passing yards) because of the aforementioned nightmare in north Jersey. The Bucs will field a considerably better rush defense than anything Washington has seen and will pressure Robert Griffin on a constant basis.
The second issue is that Washington has needed to score more than thirty points on Sundays to keep their games competitive. The Redskins allow just under 34 points to opposing offenses, and that number is unlikely to dip through the course of their season with both Orakpo and Carriker on injured reserve.
Schiano professes a desire to run the ball down your throat yet did so ineptly against the NFC East. Tampa will need to recapture the form they demonstrated against Carolina that allowed Doug Martin to rush for nearly 100 yards in order to keep Ryan Kerrigan in check.
Tampa fans are hoping for better playcalling in the future both offensively and defensively. Too often can single high safeties and blitzes leave the cornerbacks exposed. Calling the prevent defense on 2nd and 20 doesn't often get the defense a stop either. Freeman took plenty of shots downfield against New York and that kept them in the game, while against Dallas the strong commitment to the running game led to frequent three and outs. Allowing LeGarrette Blount to sit on the sideline for all but four plays each game needs to be rethought entirely.
These coaching issues can largely be attributed to inexperience. Everyone on the squad is adjusting to new personnel and an entirely different system which will require a bit of time to shake out. Bringing the team back home against a lackluster defense will hopefully return them to week 1 form. If the team can get Martin going, linebackers will start biting on play action and the vertical passing game will become effective. Washington could be the first step that Tampa takes toward successfully mirroring the Giants offense while regaining both player and fan confidence.