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Espn Insider: TB might struggle to stop the run

Dirk Diggler

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If this doesn't make you feel warm and fuzzy - nothing will.


Bucs might struggle to stop run

By KC Joyner

ESPN Insider

Most people believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense is back to its old form. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's group finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in overall defense and No. 6 in rushing defense, but a closer look shows that this unit has some significant issues.

The Buccaneers are allowing only 95 rushing yards per game, but there was a clear shift in their defensive performance after their Week 7 bye. In the six games preceding the bye, Tampa allowed only 62 rushing yards per game. A big part of this had to do with the competition, as Tampa didn't face a 2005 playoff team in those first six weeks. Over the course of the next 10 weeks, the Bucs allowed 113 rushing yards per game, a figure that would have ranked 18th in the league.

It isn't just the overall yardage in these last 10 games that is disturbing. The Buccaneers allowed more than 140 yards in four of the games, and two of the sub 100-yard rushing games during this stretch came against the exhausted and injury-depleted New Orleans Saints.

Is the Bucs' run defense really as weak as the post-bye numbers would suggest? If so, will Washington be able to capitalize this weekend? My metric analysis indicates there are significant weaknesses the Redskins are perfectly aligned to exploit...

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I've noted that and no doubt our guys have too. The Bucs have not been through the wringer we have, but they're very good. Once again, we'll ride Clinton's huge shoulders and I expect to see Betts too. Cooley will re-appear. And Moss will burn them big two-thre times (not all TD's). I also predict the defnese will deliberately be going for jersey-pull-down tackles on CP because they know it's going to piss him off and maybe distract him, or even draw a penalty from him. Whether you want to call it sneaky and despicable :D , or clever and taking advantage of every opportunity, Gruden will coach that if he saw the CP interview. He leaves no stone unturned, which is part of what makes him a damn good coach, IMO.

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It'll be interesting to see how the Bucs have matured. When these teams last met, the Bucs were still transitioning with Simms, having him under center for only the 3rd time this season, with the 1st two being losses to SF and Carolina.

The author is right that the Bucs have surrendered 140+ yards on the ground 4 times since the BYE, but there are a few things to note. Half of those were against the Falcons, the top rushing team in the league. Also, of the four, despite giving up 140+ on the ground, TB still won the game three times. So success running is no guarantee of a victory by any means. Look at the other 6 games, and the Bucs are giving up a MUCH more respectable 83 yards per game on the ground.

Monte will have his guys geared up to key on Portis and Betts and will likely line up Barber on Moss.

Ought to be a good game!

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