Mark Schlereth is a three time Super Bowl champion, green chile aficionado, former ESPN analyst, podcast host, and current FOX Sports analyst. He knows a thing or two about football. In fact, he’s hands down one of my favorite sports personalities out there. He’s entertaining, funny, informative.
However, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with any and everything he says.
On the latest episode of Schlereth’s “Stinkin Truth Podcast”, he had a few words about the Buccaneers. Bucs fans are currently riding high after a Thursday night win in Carolina where the defense was dominant, shutting down Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton. The Bucs are in first place and the best team in the division just last their quarterback for at least six weeks.
In Schlereth’s eyes, however, it’s not anywhere near enough.
Schlereth was speaking about the Saints’ chances now that Brees is out and how they have to rely on Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill. Schlereth went on to say;
“I just feel like New Orleans has a better opportunity to weather that storm than does, say, Pittsburgh. Based upon the division with which they play where Carolina and Tampa are both garbage, obviously Atlanta was pretty good the other night against Philly. I just think that, for me, that feels like they’ve got a better opportunity to win in New Orleans and weather that storm with the combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill.”
Whoa there, Marky Mark. Let’s rewind a little. Yes, we’re only two games in and yes, the Buccaneers have been the media pick for surprise team the past few season only to poop the bed, but if what we’ve seen through two weeks is any indication as to the direction of this team, the Buccaneers certainly are not garbage.
So far, the defense has allowed merely one touchdown in two games. They are ranked as the fourth best defense in DVOA. They are eighth in yards allowed, seventh in rushing yards allowed, and tied for tenth in points allowed if you eliminate the two touchdowns the offense gave up which (for some reason) counts against the defense.
Offensively, yes they have struggled. But that will come together before too long as I outlined here. The Bucs are fifteenth in rushing yards per game, twenty-fifth in passing yards per game, twenty-fifth in total yards per game, and tied for seventeenth in points per game. Again, not ideal, but certainly not “garbage.”
For a team that just shut down one of the most prolific offensive weapons in the league, the Bucs will have another opportunity to do the same against Saquon Barkley this Sunday. On top of that, they’re facing a Giants defense that is one of the worst in the league. This could be a “get right” game for wide receiver Mike Evans as well as tight end O.J. Howard. The Giants have given up nine touchdown drives of 70 or more yards - as Schlereth pointed out on the same podcast - as well as giving up 16/22 for 256 yards and three touchdowns on first down passes.
There are plenty of teams in the NFL that are garbage. And with all due respect, Mr. Schlereth, the Buccaneers are not one of them.