What you have Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium is a really unique opportunity for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
They face the Washington Redskins in the fourth game of the season. Former Bucs coach Jon Gruden used to divide the season into four-game quarters.
A victory by the Buccaneers would send them into their bye week with a 2-2 record, a really good start, all things considered. That being said, it's not only a "must-win" for the Bucs. The Redskins are probably looking at this as a must-win as well.
Here are a few of the reasons why.
Two Remodeling Projects In The Process:
The Bucs went 4-12 last year, firing Raheem Morris and hiring Greg Schiano.
The Redskins went 5-11 in Mike Shanahan's second season then promptly gave up the world for Robert Griffin III, the man who they see as their messiah. The 'Skins surrendered their 2012, 2013 and 2014 first round picks to the Rams along with a second round pick in 2012 for RG III.
This is probably the game on the schedule that fans of both teams marked a "W" next to when they were looking at opponents for 2012.
Can the Bucs offense take advantage of the Redskins defense?
Coaches: Mike Shanahan vs. Greg Schiano:
NFL veteran Mike Shanahan will be going up against the upstart, rough-housing-at-the-end-of-games Greg Schiano. Shanahan has won more Super Bowls than Schiano has games in the NFL.
Still, all talent considered, the team are probably on equal footing, so it will come down to preparation by the respective coaching staffs and halftime adjustments. The adjustment department is where Schiano and his staff are suspect.
Quarterbacks: RG III vs. Josh Freeman:
The last thing you want to see happen on Sunday is for the talented rookie, Robert Griffin III, to out-play fourth-year quarterback Josh Freeman.
Griffin's stats are more impressive than Freeman's through three games. The Heisman Trophy winner has 747 yards passing, a 67.4 completion percentage and a rating of 103.5.
Freeman's got a mere 491 yards in completions with a 51.3 percentage and a rating of 71.4.
Freeman has 14 rushing yards in three games. RG III has 209 and three touchdowns.
Who will have the better game on Sunday?
Griffin showed some vulnerability in last week's loss to the Bengals. He was sacked six times and hit way too much.
Both these quarterbacks need to play well on Sunday for their teams to have a chance.
Bad Offense, Bad Defense:
The Buccaneers are ranked last in the NFL in offense. Without its defense, the Buccaneer offense has had a hard time scoring touchdowns.
The Redskins give up yardage and points the way the federal government throws away money. The 'Skins have surrendered 101 points in three games and are allowing an average of 429 yards per game by the opposition.
If the Buccaneer offense is going to have success, this is the team to go against. Likewise, if the Washington defense is going to show any life, this is the offense it wants to get hold of.
Something's got to give.
Joe Theismann Says:
Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann appeared on 620 WDAE's Ron and Ian Show Thursday and had these tidbits:
On Josh Freeman: "Josh should be ready to make the next step. He needs a chance to process the new system."
On RG III: "He cannot take the beating he took in Cincinnati. This is a great test for him and the Redskins. The Buc defense will come after him."
There you have it.
There are a lot of dynamics at work with these two teams. Both are 1-2. Both need this game.
Should the Bucs win, as we said at the start, they hit the bye week 2-2.
Who's going to complain about that?