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Week 11 Player Profile: CB Aqib Talib

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Well, we certainly have Aqib Talib covered well here on Buc'Em this week!!!  Talib will have a major role in the Buccaneer defensive scheme come Sunday: blanket the big, explosive go-to WR Marques Colston.  So far this season, sticking to opposing #1 WRs hasn't been a problem for Aqib.  He's stayed with Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith, and Santana Moss pretty well. 

Let's take a look at some video highlights Niko put together:


 

Tampa Bay vs. New England: Looking first at Talib's interception against New England, I have to tip my hat to Jim Bates and the Buccaneer defense on this play.  They managed to pull a fast one on the New England offense.  Talib was lined up on the same side of the field as, but off the line from, Randy Moss, who ran a hitch route.  With Talib naturally up the field from the hitching Moss, it appeared to be a perfect catch and run opportunity for Moss.  However, Quincy Black, with an underneath zone responsibility, stepped into the passing lane, forcing Brady to look downfield for an alternate option. 

At this point, Talib peeled off his responsibility by design and hustled downfield to catch up to the streaking Patriot WR Brandon Tate, who had several steps on Rhonde Barber.  However, Brady underthrew the pass a tad and Talib was able to get under the pass with ease and make a leaping interception (near the highest point of reception, to boot...which shouldn't go unnoticed) ahead of Tate. 

What made this play so successful is the Buccaneers knew that Brady would look first to Moss on a mid-range route, and settled in for it perfectly with underneath LB help.  With Sabby stepping up to surround Moss with Black, and Tanard Jackson stepping up into the box on play action, Brady thought he had Tate open deep.  However, the Bucs suckered Brady by sending Talib deep from the other side of the field, who flashed impressive speed and instinct to get down the field and meet Tate at the football.  Just a great call by Bates and terrific execution by Talib and the rest of the Buccaneer defense.  That's a defensive call to keep in their back pocket.

Tampa Bay vs. Washington

Looking at the first of Talib's 3 interceptions against the Redskins, the Buccaneers are employed in a nickel package, man coverage, two-deep safeties.  The interception was, in part, a foreseeable result of a myopic Jason Campbell, who looked at WR Kelly all the way from the snap, into his break, and across the middle.  With Ruud following Cooley away from the middle, Sabby stepped up into middle underneath coverage.  With help from Sabby, Ronde Barber was able to pull off his inward-bound receiver and backtrack to Talib's trailing receiver.  This allowed Talib the ability to make a play on the football and, in case he missed, have help from Barber to bat the ball away or jar it loose.  Simple, but effective.  That said, it was an athletic play by Talib to undercut his defender and extend for the interception. 

The second interception on the video was simply a great individual effort by Talib on a fast, fast wide receiver.  The Bucs were stacking the box on 3rd and 2, looking for the run.  With the Bucs having one safety deep, there wasn't as much deep help as usual if a player got by them.  Talib jammed Kelly off the line, forcing him outside, then turned and ran with him...literally with him.  He turned his shoulder into Kelly and ran with him stride for stride, effectively pinning him to the sideline.  He remained with him stride for stride, while turning his head to find the football.  As the ball came down, he maintained his position, stayed between the receiver and the football and made the play.  He effectively limited the area in which Kelly could catch the ball by forcing him to the sideline with a good jam and stayed in (legal) contact with him down the field, not giving an inch of room to catch the ball, while giving Jason Campbell very little room to drop one in between the WR and the sideline.  Great individual effort there. 

Overview for Week 11: the key, in part, to stopping somewhat containing the Saints offense the past two weeks has been the ability of the opposition to keep WR Marques Colston down.  Colston is a big boy with good speed who's very effective over the middle and on inside-breaking routes.  He's the guy that, when Drew Brees needs 4, 5, 6 yards, he'll fly off the line, cut a slant route, and catch a high pass over a smaller defensive back.  From the opponents 15 yd line, he'll make a head-fake and cut it towards the goalposts on a skinny post for a TD.  Point is, if he gets inside position on a smaller cornerback, it's big-time trouble on a route.  Talib has done a pretty nice job on opposing #1's by himself, and with the wealth of talent the Saints have at their skill positions, he's probably going to be asked to single cover Colston alot.  It'll be essential for Talib to come out and, metaphorically, punch Colston in the mouth, push him around, stay with him.  Let him know he'll be there all day.  Tall task, but Talib just might be up to it. 

What do you guys think?