This is it Bucs fans: the week 8 match-up that could make or break the head coaching job. Obviously it has been a rough past seven weeks for Tampa Bay, going 0-6 with a few near-win games and the fan base losing all hope of making the playoffs and losing all trust in head coach Greg Schiano. Fans had to watch the entire Josh Freeman vs. Schiano saga unfold in the middle of the season and that was not pretty. Tonight’s game is going to be a challenge for the Bucs as they face a 3-3 Panthers team for the first time this season.
Looking into the match-up tonight, I couldn’t find much to hope for. Tampa Bay ranks 29th in passing so far this year and that comes as no surprise. Freeman didn’t perform well when he was the start and rookie Mike Glennon is still learning the system and getting it down. The fact that EVERY wide receiver on the team is dropping passes doesn’t help much either. The run game is also struggling to produce offense, a sign that the offensive line isn’t opening up the needed holes for Doug Martin and Mike James to run through. It’s also a sign that the play-action offense isn’t doing much either. Unless the offense can start producing by scoring points, there is no way the Bucs can win this game.
Offense isn’t the only problem Tampa Bay has. The defense has not done much of anything to help support the team either. Two long, game-ending drives down the field and costly penalties by the defense is what caused the Bucs to lose their first two games of the season. The pass defense has been mediocre this season, ranking 18th in the league allowing an average of 258 yards through the air. However, the run defense has remained stout as it usually does each season, ranking 5th in the league allowing an average of 88 yards per game. The unnecessary penalties though have plagued this defense. Dashon Goldson and his hard hits have calmed down since he was fined earlier this year but they are still getting whistled for stupid mistakes.
The same goes for the offense when it comes to penalties. They have gotten called for so many unnecessary penalties (ie holding, illegal hands to the face, offensive pass interference) in every game this year. The team as a whole has been called for 54 penalties amounting up to 516 yards this season which is unreal. That shows that the entire team is completely undisciplined and cannot succeed until they get some discipline.
Overall, this game will not be a pretty one for the Bucs. Unless they can cut down on penalties, receivers start catching the ball, and the running game can get established, tonight’s game will end up in a loss for the Bucs. We will have to wait and see however, game starts at 8:25 in Tampa tonight. Go Bucs!