Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 2: Keys to Bucs Victory over New York Giants
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To be the best, you have to beat the best.
Even after manhandling the trendy preseason sleeper, Carolina Panthers, 16-10, the Bucs head north as eight-point underdogs to a Giants team that was beat soundly by the Dallas Cowboys on national television.
Granted, Tampa is coming off its first win in 11 tries, and has not beaten the Giants since 2003.
That said, there are ways that the Buccaneers can come out of MetLife Stadium with a 2-0 record. Here are a few keys to victory for Tampa Bay in New York.
Make Eli Manning Uncomfortable
Gone are the days where the Giants were known only for their defense and a run-first attack. This is Eli Manning's team, and he is making Archie and Peyton proud. It is fair to assume the big brother spent some of his down time last year breaking down defenses for Eli. This guy became a different player in 2011.
Truth be told, he is one of the most clutch quarterbacks of the past decade.
Even so, he can still be made uncomfortable when pressured. After all, this isn't the Super Bowl and David Tyree is not coming out of the locker room on Sunday.
Manning is protected by an average offensive line that has only one true stud—in Chris Snee. They also have a banged up center in David Baas, who has been limited in practice with a sore hip. Right tackle Will Beatty is also just recovering from a back injury.
Without a doubt, pressure is something New York must be concerned about.
The team allowed three sacks against Dallas in Week 1, but besides that, the pressure Manning felt prevented him from connecting for many big plays—a staple of the Giants offense.
The Tampa defensive line must repeat last week's performance, if not improve, against New York. The level of play seen from Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn will almost surely dictate the effectiveness of the Giants attack.
Bennett South vs. Bennett North
This is more a fun storyline than anything else, but Giants tight end Martellus Bennett and his brother, Buccaneers defensive lineman Michael Bennett, will be facing off on Sunday.
While they will only really go at one another for a few plays of the game, both of these men will have an impact one way or another.
As mentioned above, the defensive line of Tampa needs to step up. Bennett South has done just that since making his way into the Bucs lineup.
He was referred to as a defensive lineman rather than a defensive end because on passing downs, he often will move inside and Dakota Watson, among others, will rush from the outside.
He needs to continue to provide a solid push and continue to build on last week's strong game.
Bennett North also had an impressive showing in Week 1, catching Manning's only touchdown pass. He displayed many of the skills that had many fans in Dallas hoping he would provide a solid compliment to Jason Witten during his time in the Lone Star State.
Finally out of Witten's shadow and thrust into a starting lineup, Bennett North is poised to have a breakout year and should be a focus in Buccaneer defensive meetings this week.
Yes, Luke Stocker.
Let's be honest: Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Rocky Bernard, and Mathias Kiwanuka just to name a few, are most likely drooling as they watch Ted Larsen miss blocks and draw holding penalties. And to think they may get single-teamed by Jeremy Trueblood, a guy who has been known to hold more than phone calls with customer service lines.
This could be a long afternoon.
This is where Stocker should become a huge part of Tampa's game plan. It is no secret that Dallas Clark's best blocking days, which weren't great, are behind him. It is also no secret that the right side of Tampa's line needs all the help they can get.
If Donald Penn can hold up in one on one matchups on the edge, that leaves the opportunity for Stocker to spend a lot of time assisting the lesser half of the offensive line.
With Stocker helping and the blocking that former Giant D.J. Ware has shown on third downs throughout his career, there is a chance that Freeman may leave the stadium with a clean jersey.
Good thing Tampa will most likely wear red and not white.
Make David Wilson Cry
Maybe the most talked about moment of the Giants-Cowboys game was David Wilson allegedly being seen crying on the sidelines after an early fumble, which caused his subsequent benching.
Tom Coughlin came out this week telling New York media that Wilson is out of the doghouse and will have a role on Sunday. Bucs fans should hope it is a large role.
It is no secret, it is rumored to have steered Schiano away from Wilson in April's draft, giving the Bucs more reason to go up and get Doug Martin.
Wilson put the ball on the ground seven times in 14 games last year at Virginia Tech. This is not a fluke, it is a trend. It's very reminiscent of the troubles Tiki Barber once had in New York.
If Wilson gets the ball, the Bucs defense should have as many hands ripping at the ball as they can. Just be certain—if this tactic backfires and missed tackles get Wilson in the open field, he has track star speed.
Test the Health of Prince and Coe
Two words: Kevin Ogletree.
Some people are under the impression last Wednesday was a breakout game for the Dallas receiver. This writer believes that Ogletree just got the right matchup at the right time.
Ogletree rode the wave of cornerback injuries in the Giants' secondary to a performance which totaled roughly a third of the fourth-year pro's career yards.
This is preposterous.
Some may notice that other than Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, no Buccaneers wide receiver caught a pass against Carolina. Only Preston Parker even had a ball thrown his way, and only one.
Arrelious Benn is still not a certainty to play, but even if he doesn't, somebody needs to force the Giants into their nickel and dime packages.
Even if Prince Amukamara sees the field, he wont be 100 percent.
Corey Webster is solid, but Justin Tryon and Jayron Hosley showed what they are all about when they made two injured stars and a nobody look like the "Greatest Show of Turf."
Even if Michael Coe can make it on the field, he deserves to be tested as well—early and often.
Captain Schiano: The Head Pirate
Who is to say that Schiano is not a brilliant mind who knew Tampa could defeat Carolina with the most vanilla of offenses?
Who is to say that Schiano didn't watch the deplorable play of the New York secondary last Wednesday and think to himself, "this could be fun, let's make them think we don't even have three receivers."
There is no way that Schiano let the Giants get a four-day head start prepping for this game; he knew what was going on.
I am sure that he has many more tricks up his Belichikian sleeve. To think Ron Rivera was under the impression having his team watch Rutgers University game film would have them prepared.
That certainly worked out well for Tampa.
What nobody knows is what kind of game plan the Buccaneers will show up with on Sunday. What we do know is that the Buccaneers have a much better chance at winning this game than anyone expected, even a week ago.
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